I often encourage co-workers, friends and family members to “remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!” This quote by Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits books, has helped me on more than one occasion to work on my own focus when the environment screamed out, “be distracted!”
Even now, as I write this blog, I’ve responded to email, answered and made several calls, and worked on lesser priorities. Focus!
C’est la vie! Right? No, it doesn’t have to be that way.
As we go through life, much of our days are determined for us. Yet, each of us has the ability to focus on the priority at hand – to get a job done, work on an ongoing task, fulfill a promise. We should be determined to focus the time we call our own in such a way that a priority is prioritized.
When I was young, my math grades, were… well, a challenge to my school teacher mother. I remember many an afternoon going over my “times” tables with Mom. 6×8 is 48, 6×8 is 48, 6×8 is 48. On and on we would go with my mother occasionally encouraging me to think! She would then punctuate each letter, T – H – I – N – K!
While I’m no math genius, I know my “times” table and have instilled those same words into my children that my mother drilled into me, whether math facts or many of the myriad other knowledge bites we desire to pass along. T – H – I -N – K!
Come to think about it (pun intended), that is the basis for keeping the main thing the main thing. Call it what you will – Focus, Priority, Keeping First Things First, each of us has to make a conscious decision on what to do with our most precious commodity. Time.
Many books have been written on Time Management and Priorities. Our desire to end the day with a sense of accomplishment cries out to us. We want to be more efficient, more effective, get a job done. How can I squeeze more out of each minute and hour. Some people schedule their day into 10 or 15-minute increments. In fact, a recent article pointed to successful executives parsing their time into 5-minute work segments. Focus?
This reminds me of a joke by the comedian, Brian Regan. While waxing eloquent on the packaging and instructions for the breakfast food, Pop Tarts, he joked that if you had to microwave your pastry for 3 seconds to get on your way that possibly you needed to free up your schedule a bit.
What is your main thing? It changes. Patrick Lencioni writes in The 3 Big Questions for the Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable that family priorities change frequently, establishing a need to prioritize on the current need, which should be reviewed and revised at least quarterly. More frequently, if needed.
Write down your highest prioritized items right now – take no more than 60 seconds to compile your list. Spend another minute determining what is most important (not necessarily what is most pressing). Voila! You should have 2-3 items that are most important, and probably most pressing, as well. Focus on these things.One last thought… mak a habit and you’ll find that
One last thought… make finding Your Main Thing a habit and life may become more directed and focused. Your life.