Career Success: Sharpen Your Focus

Few people can do a zillion things at once, and even fewer can do them well. Career success and the actions that achieve it are just one example of that fact. You might consider yourself a super-multitasker, but I’m betting you don’t do it as well as you think. You only have a certain amount of energy (although some of you have more than others), not to mention a limited amount of time. Even the best of you can’t get more than 24 hours into a day.

To quote a well-known celebrity: “Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus.” (Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, July 2003)

Career Success: Choose One Thing

A recent post on Quartz by Vickie Elmer, titled “Forget the long to-do lists and choose one thing to be good at,” indicates that focus is critical to success. She mentions a new book called The One Thing, by Gary Keller (of Keller Williams Real Estate) and Jay Papasan, and cites three principles contained in the book:

  1. Success is sequential, not simultaneous. [Keller] would ask [people] the focusing question: “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
  2. Nail your “one thing” by lunch. Make the most of your best productive time. Then you can look back at what you’ve accomplished and feel happy about it.
  3. Everyone blows it. The authors started out with a 400-page manuscript and whittled it down to about half–after being put on the spot by their publisher to “walk their talk.”

How Do You Sharpen Your Focus?

The above list gives a few clues. Here are a few more tips for job search and career success:

  • Identify possible or probable interruptions, time-sucks, etc., and plan to avoid or postpone them as long as possible. If the likely culprit is a person, you might need to get creative about how you do this!
  • Be realistic. If you’re at all like me, you start out with a list that you know (if you’re being honest with yourself), you’ll never get done in one day. That’s not only likely to be nonproductive (as Keller’s work indicates) but also to set you up for failure, which is a demotivating factor.
  • Work on better prioritizing. If you know you can’t do it all, take a few minutes to decide what’s most critical. Move along to the less critical only when you’ve accomplished the highest-priority item.

Then reward yourself by acknowledging your successes and avoid beating yourself up for the times when you fall short of the target.

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