All successful people have developed the ability to concentrate single-mindedly on one thing, the most important thing and to stay with it until it is done. There are some skills that are peripheral to success and there are some skills that are central. Your ability to concentrate on your highest value task is the key to you getting more done, sooner. It is the key to you maximizing your value and your productivity. The ability to concentrate is the critical determinant of your success in everything you accomplish in life. (Brian Tracy, Perform At Your Best)
Brian Tracy called this ability to have laser beam like focus, ‘Focal Point’. He believed that Focal Point enabled you to cut through enormous amounts of work and get more done than anyone else around you.
One of the greatest examples of Focal Point at work was, Johnny Wilkinson. Johnny Wilkinson was arguable the most famous and most talented rugby player to grace a rugby field. Having retired in 2015, he left a timeless legacy.
Wilkinson’s success was not by chance. He had a clear understanding of his role within the teams his played and he applied laser like concentration in striving for perfection. Having the responsibility of the teams place kicker, Wilkinson took it upon himself to work towards being the best in the world; he was driven by a relentless quest for improvement and the impossibility of perfection.
A former England team-mate Richard Hill, spoke of Wilkinson’s drive and focus in an interview, commenting that many times while in camp with the England National side, when the team had finished training and he would be driving off after his shower, he could still see Jonny out there goal-kicking. Hill said Wilkinson would set out to do 50 kicks, it would be heading towards dusk, damn near darkness and on the 49th kick out of 50 he might shade it to the left and so he’d go on to do another 50.
Focus means knowing EXACTLY what you want, and concentration is having the discipline and willpower to CONCENTARTE single-mindedly in the single direction, until you get it done. Johnny Wilkinson knew exactly what he wanted, and that was to be the best in the world. But Wilkinson also knew that knowing exactly what he wanted wasn’t just enough, he knew what work, what effort, what sacrifice it would take to achieve his goal, and he had the Focal Point (laser like concentration) to achieve it.
The story of Johnny Wilkinson is a great case study. Focal Point is not just about high level goals or your life’s major purpose statement or a larger business strategic purpose. These form the foundation and are very important in setting your ultimate destination, however Focal Point can be brought right back into the activities of our daily lives, helping us achieve more each day than we ever thought possible. The key to peak performance is long-term vision combined with short-term focus.
Focal Point is all about prioritizing your activities into high productivity tasks and low productivity tasks. The starting point is simple, make a list! Here are a few steps to assist you in developing the techniques of Focal Point – The Power of Concentraion.
Each and every day prior to commencing with your day, write out a list of activities –your to-do list. First and foremost ensure that the list contains activities that will take you closer to your goals, goals which you have also written down, goals which are specific, have measurable metrics and have a deadline (refer to last week’s blog for more on goal setting).
Prioritize your list, use the 80/20 Rule, and always work on the 20% of your activities that contribute to 80% of your results!
Use the A B C D E Method, to help you prioritize:
- ‘A’ things are things that you must do. These are PRESSING and need to be done immediately
- ‘B’ things are things that you should do. These are IMPORTANT and have long-term potential consequences
- ‘C’ things are things that would be nice to do
- ‘D’ things are things you should DELEGATE
- ‘E’ things are things that you should ELIMINATE
If you are struggling to categorize your activities into A B C D or E, here are a few questions you can ask which may help:
- What is the limiting factor that sets the speed at which you can achieve any goal or complete any task? In other words what is your CONSTRAINT? If you can identify the constraint focus all your energies on resolving this one problem. In other words activities that will help you overcome your constraint will be category A or B.
- What can you and only you do, that if done well, will make a real difference? Again, these are category A or B activities.
- What is the most valuable use of your time? In other words what activities will result in revenue? We call these Dollar Productive Activities, and they should be category A or B.
Block out chunks of time – it varies from individual to individual, but we all have ideal concentration spans. It is commonly between 60 and 90 minutes. Depending on this number create Focal Point ‘Block Outs’, for example 90 minute Block outs.
The goal is to use these time periods to laser focus on a selected activity or activities without any interruptions of any sort from anyone. That is, no emails, no phone calls, no IM, no fielding questions from colleagues, NO INTERRUPTIONS!
After each block out you take a time out where you will completely relax and remove yourself from the work environment. The length of the break will be determines by the length of the block out. A 90 minute block out may require a 15 minute break, whereas a 60 minute block out may only require a 10 minute break. Use these breaks to catch up with colleagues, grab a coffee or simple to take a walk and get some fresh air. Be disciplined with your time!
Plan your day in ‘block outs’ and add your activities from your to-do list into these block outs. High priority activities MUST go into the earlier block outs.
Working on high-priority activities, and disciplining yourself to stay at them until they’re done, gives you a tremendous sense of control and personal power. When you develop the habit of high concentration and focus, your future will be unlimited.
For more information on The Power of Concentration and ‘How to Perform At Your Best’ contact Anton Zackey at [email protected]