Get more done in your business through hyper-focusing

The phrase ‘I am so busy’ is often bandied about in businesses and it is a pet hate of Co-Founder Kate Cousens. Herself a reformed workaholic who used the ‘busy’ term as something of a badge of honour, Kate is now passionate about helping clients to reform the habit of busy-ness and get more done in their businesses through mastering the art of hyper-focusing. In this blog, Kate shares her top tips on how you can do the same.

I would love to ban the word ‘busy’ when it comes to the working world! When you love your career or your business, like I have and do, it can become all-consuming. I know that there are always more things I want to achieve and that my ‘to-do’ list could be never-ending if I allowed it to be. I call myself a reformed workaholic, but I am still wired to want to work every waking hour I can, making myself ‘busy’, but I have learned that it is better for my mental wellbeing and my family for me to self-impose boundaries that stop me from doing so.

I have spent a lot of time in various types of therapy exploring where the drive to be busy comes from, and I can share that it is deep-rooted in that I like to be needed. I like to make myself indispensable, and ultimately, I am prone to attributing my self-worth with it. Put simply, if I am busy, I am important, I am needed, therefore I am worthy. Thankfully I am self-aware enough to know when this is a useful driver for me and when it starts to go into over-drive, tipping into overwhelm.

Personal disclosure over, but this is a pattern I recognise in others straight away whenever clients say to me they are ‘so busy’ and that they don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that needs doing. My solution, and something that I have learned to master the art of, is hyper-focusing.

Traditionally, hyperfocus was described as an experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. In this case, I’m talking about hyperfocus as a theoretical state of being where you obtain an intense focus on an action to the point that it results in extreme productivity.

Hyper-focusing on important work tasks throughout the day is what I attribute to getting so much done in my business. I am a perpetual do-er and creator. Over the last few years, I have created a huge amount of material that supports clients in all areas of running their business. From business strategy and marketing templates to a full CPD accredited 15 month leadership development programme – you name it, I have created it to support DICE clients (and if I haven’t yet, then I will!).

It is this hyper-focus that has enabled us to franchise the DICE offer, teaching other passionate business professionals to use the breadth of training materials we have covering every aspect of business strategy development, people leadership, workplace culture, employee engagement and communications. It is what enabled me to write a complete business operation manual, outlining every single process we do with clients so that we can teach our methodologies and practices to franchisees.

My business partner and Co-Founder, Steve Lloyd, will tell you that this hyper-focus of mine does come at a price – in that I will block out chunks of a week to get specific tasks done – often leaving Steve to pick up the mantle with any arising issues with clients during that time! But that is how we roll – we are a great team and Steve supports me when I need to get into this mode.

So, what is the secret to mastering the art of hyper-focusing? It starts with stopping the bad habits of multi-tasking, or multi-failing as I like to say! You can’t focus on everything – you need to prioritise what is important and then create space to get it done. It starts with the decision that you are going to run your day, rather than letting your day run you.

Here are some tips to get you started:

We all get distracted and lose focus at times but with the average internet user getting distracted every 40 seconds, it is time to close down your email inbox, switch off any and all notifications on your computer, and put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ (better yet, switch it off and hide it!).

I am someone who always under-estimates how long something will take, often thinking I can achieve more than I realistically can in a single day. Get honest with yourself and do your best to limit your list to one or two things at a time. Use your diary to plan out your day, and if you don’t get everything done in the time frame, block out your next available day and repeat until the task is complete.

You need to be strict with yourself when you are hyper-focusing. That means no procrastinating – this isn’t the time to clear out the kitchen cabinets or that messy drawer – you need to get that thing on your to-do list done. Eat the frog, stop putting it off!

Make yourself un-contactable. Put on your email ‘out of office’ message, chat to colleagues, clients, and family members about what you are planning to do and ensure you have their support. Give them a time when you will be available if they need you for anything, but other than that pretend you are on a desert island and let them fend for themselves (yes, that means you kids!).

Stay away from the things that distract you. It might be that you are used to scrolling through your social media feeds, watching lunchtime ‘Bargain Hunt’ or making a brew every 30 minutes. Whatever it is that you are prone to being distracted by, stop it! These things might seem fun and give you some relief in your day, but they do nothing for your productivity. I mean it – step away from the kettle! Get yourself a flask if you need to – this is time to knuckle down!

If you are committed to getting something important done, stick to your guns and do it. This means staying true to what you choose to focus on for that day and not falling into the trap of running on autopilot. By that I mean that when you switch on your computer when you’re on autopilot you automatically open your email inbox and the Internet tab. Don’t fall into that trap – be very deliberate in how you set yourself up for your day and escape autopilot mode!

Hyperfocus goes deeper than time management – it is about managing your attention so that you waste less time. It really does maximise your productivity and helps you to do more purposeful work. We can all make ourselves busy if we want to, equally we can all get things that are important to us done if we want to through a hyper-focused approach. Give it a try and see how you find it. I’d love to hear how you get on, so please get in touch via social media with your experiences!

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