The Powerful Lever of Focus
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.
Like a splinter, a bee sting, or a hangnail—barely even visible but we all know when we got one!
Maybe a positive metaphor is more fitting. How about a lever? A small lever can move an object many times its size and weight if placed well.
I recently found a couple of powerful levers thanks to Michael Hyatt and his team. They developed the Full Focus Planner. This planner is deceptively simple in its design. If used consistently, though, the results are dramatic. I began using it seriously roughly three months ago and it has been an integral part of my daily life for the past 90 days. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
First of all, the planner helps me think, live in and plan in quarters versus the whole year. I noticed that when I used to do yearly planning, I tried to figure out a whole year’s worth of goals. Then, in June, I’d lift my head and realize that I lost steam on some very important goals. Planning in quarters forces me to review my longer-term goals every 90 days and make course corrections as I go through the year instead of getting uber inspired in Q1 and then cramming to get everything left unfinished into the last couple of months of the year. I’ve been amazed at what I can accomplish in a quarter of focused attention. I also love the flexibility of re-calibrating on my longer-term goals as the year progresses.
Secondly, I’ve come to depend on—and “depend” is not too strong of a word!—on my Daily Big 3. The Daily Big 3 are the tasks that I absolutely must get done each day to feel like that day was a success. Think about the focus of having three—just three—tasks that must get done in a day and how doable that feels. It’s truly liberating. Of course, my to-do list is much longer than three tasks each day. But unlike a normal to-do, My Daily Big 3 are the highest leverage daily tasks that tie directly to my larger, long-term goals. And doing them first creates a sense of momentum to tackle all the others on the list, as well.
Third, I love the weekly preview, which is really a weekly review of the previous week, coupled with a forward look at the week ahead. Michael compares this to the military’s “after action review.” This is where we look back on the previous week and ask: What worked? What didn’t work? And what can we learn or do differently going forward? Simple. But profound. The weekly review also helps me round up all the unaccomplished tasks that still need my attention and makes sure that they get put into the week ahead. It also previews what is to come in the week before me as I set a weekly Big 3 that ends up guiding my Daily Big 3 for each day of the upcoming workweek.
Next, the daily rituals. Now, don’t let the religious overtones of the word “ritual” scare you. We all have rituals that we do almost without even thinking, like brushing our teeth and letting the dogs out. Or at the shop, we all have open-up and close-down rituals. Unlock the door, turn off the alarm, fire up the computer and estimating system, set the temperature and make the coffee. On the way out, we reverse it. The Full Focus Planner helped me determine healthy rituals for starting and ending my days, as well as what ramping into and out of the workday can look like. Once we set these up and get them on autopilot, we have ingrained healthy habits in our transitions that make the day feel way more doable and enjoyable.
I once had a discussion with a business coach where I lamented that I brought work home with me. I would come home to be with my family but they all knew that, mentally, I was still at work. They could read it in my face and body language before I ever said a word. The business coach told me it was like I went from fifth gear on the intensity scale and then tried to downshift to second or first all at once. And we all know what happens to an engine when we do that: It just ramps the RPMs right back up even higher! He encouraged me to find something that might take me from fifth gear to fourth to third and so on, rather than make that leap all at once. This is the power of rituals. They help me find the right gear and downshift or upshift at the right times each day.
Lastly and most powerful of all is the cascading nature of the whole Full Focus Planner system. I’ve gained so much clarity on how to take my lifetime goals and cascade them into annual goals, quarterly planning, weekly reviews, and daily tasks. I know that I’m working on things that truly matter to me in my business and personal life each and every day as I can see how it all ties together. Pro tip: One of the ways I personally do this is that I have made part of my morning ritual to read out loud my lifetime and annual goals, review my weekly top three tasks, and then I set my daily Big 3.
As always, if I can be of any help to you or shop’s success, I’d love to hear from you! Please reach out at the email below and let’s start a conversation.