The Structure of Focus



I want to have an important conversation with you about ‘focus.’ It was just the other day when I had a coaching client say to me, “Colin, I have so much going on at work. I’ve got distractions, I’ve got emails, I’ve got people asking me for my time… How do I get focused in the midst of all of this?”

I’ve heard a lot of great advice about productivity over the years, like “get focused” but how do you actually do it? Many people say you should get focused, but I haven’t heard someone tell me HOW! So I’ve done that for you… I think there are three key elements to ‘focus.’

Let me introduce you to what I call the Structure of Focus.

Colin Boyd - Venn - The Structure of Focus1. A clear task — It’s a specific outcome or task that you’re trying to achieve. Sometimes people say, “I want to get a project done” but that’s not really a clear task. A specific task might be making three phone calls or sending out a specific email. You need a specific task that the brain can focus on.

2. A distraction-free environment — For you, it might be a cafe; you’ve got some buzz in the background or it might be a meeting room where you’re not going to get distracted.

3. A set time frame — Rather than saying “I’m going to work for six hours or seven hours today” — I would suggest: for ninety or fifty minutes, you work on a specific thing. Set an actual countdown timer on your iPhone (not a stop watch as it has no alarm).

I’ve built a Venn model for this. Let me explain it:

When you’ve got a clear task and a distraction-free environment, what you get is clarity, so you’re able to concentrate. When you’ve got a distraction-free environment and you’ve also got a set time frame, what that creates is flow; in other words, you’ve got the right amount of time to get absorbed in your task. When you’ve got a set time frame and you’ve also got a clear task, that creates hustle; in other words, you’re not procrastinating — you’re getting things done.

When you have a sense of clarity, flow and hustle, you will have real focus.

That’s today’s tip.

Question: What is your biggest distraction? Please share this in the comments below.

Look forward to speaking to you soon. Look after yourself.


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  • Andreas
    Posted at 10:40h, 27 January Reply

    Haha – I’m a lost case… I let your email distract me from what I intended to focus on just then. But thank you for the three points and the good reminder. I’m going straight back to my proposal writing, while applying your Structure of Focus:
    1. Review/edit the complete proposal document
    2. Close Outlook (without checking my emails again…)
    3. Be finished in 60min

  • Tom Abbott - Soho Sales Coachi
    Posted at 11:46h, 27 January Reply

    Great video Colin. My greatest distraction (and pleasure) is working from our home office. Today, I’m going to go through my Google Alerts, with a “do not disturb” sign on my back from 10AM-12PM.

  • Tania Harris
    Posted at 12:37h, 27 January Reply

    Really helpful Colin. Simple but sometimes difficult. Think my biggest distraction is email – learning to shut it down after spending an hour on correspondence in the mornings

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