James Eaton

March 23, 2021

Daily Blogging Challenge - Day 23 - Narrowing Focus

There is a tendency as we build out projects to add more and more to the scope of a project. You start brainstorming what needs to happen and then you realize all that needs to be added  to make the effort a success. There is value in considering all that you need to accomplish in a project, but with that expansion of focus there is also a tendency to slow down and get stuck in the in the “mud” of those problems. 

Has this ever happened to you, or a team you are a part of? You set out to move forward but the conversation around the new initiative actually drives your back. I’ve been there and it can be a deflating. So, how do we get past the obstacles and gain some traction? You narrow your focus. 

Instead of seeing all of the things that you could do, focus on something that you can do. Is there an action step that would accomplish most of what you want to do? Could you rally around a tangible step that would push the project ahead? If you can’t think of something, try narrowing your focus until there is a step that you can actually take. 

How do you actually narrow your focus? Take your project and turn them into a series of tasks that you can check off when it’s completed. David Allen talks about this in his book (and system for productivity) Getting Things Done. Tasks are items that you can actually mark as completed. If you can’t mark a task complete, then it needs to be simplified to one step. If you want to fix you marketing system, you are going to need some action steps because “fix marketing” is not something you can check off. A focused step would be something like, “find the current number of people on our email list.” That step has a clear direction and is knowable. 

If you break apart the project to tasks and it’s still overwhelming, take another pass at narrowing your focus. It’s not something you so once and move on from, but rather a mindset
or philosophy that you can use every day. I’ve been trying to narrow my focus this year and it’s honestly helped me accomplish more that I ever have by taking small and focused steps. If you are struggling to get big ideas accomplished, take some time to narrow your focus and decide what you actually want to do. Then, just take that step. 

My goal is to write every day. This month I am sharing that writing publicly. I might not do that every day, but I plan on writing each and every day because I feel a sense of accomplishment and added clarity when I write.