Micro and Macro Focus

OK! this may sound like a pho­tog­ra­phy title, but one of the top­ics which my stu­dents always want to talk about is focus. So I thought I would have a go at talk­ing about this topic.

The Micro Focus

This first expres­sion of focus is all about get­ting the every day things done. When you have a task to do and you need to hunk down and get it done. 

Let me share a quick sto­ry with you and tell me if you have expe­ri­enced some­thing sim­i­lar: a few years back I was trav­el­ing too much and when I would come home I would have a many dead­lines loom­ing, pro­duc­ing doc­u­ments, pre­sen­ta­tions, strat­e­gy etc. This built pres­sure and stress…. worse, because I just arrived from abroad, my bio­log­i­cal clock would be a bit off and I would be quite tired anyways….. 

The morn­ing com­mu­ni­ty into the office was always a chore, try­ing to wake up ear­ly, get into the tube and stum­ble into the office. First thing I would do is get a cup of tea (I pre­fer tea to cof­fee) and as I sipped it and tried to wake up ful­ly I would browse the inter­net a bit and check the news. Check emails to make sure there is noth­ing too urgent, answer a few of these urgent requests and then  I would list the things I need­ed to do, a pre­sen­ta­tion for a con­fer­ence… read the brief, think through the top­ic and plan the con­tent… then just as I am on slide 2, the phone rings, a new email arrives and before I know it my col­leagues are at my desk ask­ing me if I am going to have lunch and i’ve only got the cov­er of the pre­sen­ta­tion ready…

No focus… too many tasks, too many dis­trac­tions…. noth­ing done… This is a lack of Micro Focus. 

The Macro Focus

This expres­sion of focus is much more com­plex. This is all about a longer term aspect, it is about  being able to select the areas of the busi­ness, the activ­i­ties in our lives, the con­nec­tions and oppor­tu­ni­ties which will most con­tribute to achiev­ing the results we desire in life. 

A stu­dent of mine had a great exam­ple of this Macro focus when we were dis­cussing his life’s habits… he asked me: “how can I get rid of the bad habits that I have?”

I would like to take a moment to walk you through my thoughts, this guy clear­ly is aware that the habits and behav­iors are “bad” and there­fore counter pro­duc­tive…. yet there is not enough focus for him to be able to avoid them… 

So here is how I define this Macro Focus: focus­ing on the 20% that will bring 80% of your results.

The Tip to Improve your Focus

Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing the first thing to do to improve your focus is not to rely exclu­sive­ly on your mind, instead build a focus totem. Don’t just think “oh, i need to write this arti­cle”, “i need to do this or that….” make a commitment!

My sug­ges­tion: write down your tasks and pri­or­i­tize so that you can stay dis­trac­tion free on the micro lev­el and use this list as your focus totem. Write down your mis­sion state­ment for your life, for your busi­ness, for your medi­um and long term and use this state­ment as your macro focus totem. 

Keep this list and mis­sion state­ment where you can eas­i­ly refer back to them in case you feel any dis­trac­tion creep­ing in!

Bonus tip:

Well, anoth­er impor­tant tip: ded­i­cat­ing more hours into a task may not be the most pro­duc­tive alter­na­tive. Don’t be afraid of tak­ing a break, of reset­ting your mind so that you can get back to the task fresh and productive. 

At a macro lev­el I would rec­om­mend that you build a sup­port net­work, a brain trust, of indi­vid­u­als who are key for you (and who you may even reward for their sup­port) so that they can help you to main­tain the focus on the key things which will pro­duce the most results.