Do you ever get the feeling like the gap between what you intend on doing in a workday and what you actually accomplish is steadily growing? Between email inboxes, a steady stream of text messages, and the occasional voice to voice conversation — not to mention the pressures of a poor economy, an increasingly competitive work force, and the never-ending onslaught of our subconscious — it can actually be quite a challenge to maintain the kind of focus needed to get through a simple to-do list, much less a sentence as long as this one.
Fact: We live in an over-stimulated society — yes, even in the Islands.
Fact: We are not powerless over our own lives or success.
Conquering Distractions and Achieving Goals
In a recent interview by Harvard Business Review magazine (June 2012) Peter Bregman — a Princeton and Columbia graduate, master cooperate leadership strategist and CEO of the global management consulting firm Bregman Partners, Inc. — makes a few simple suggestions on how all of us bustling away at our days can re-center ourselves and find our point of efficiency, our communicative flow. Labeled “The Power of Pause”, Bregman describes how, “it’s easy to become unfocused and equally important, so easy to focus on the wrong things.”
With nearly two decades of experience coaching top-level executives on leadership and communication efficiency, Bregman has noticed a pattern develop. “We live in a culture where there’s a fear that we’re going to miss something if we don’t check everything and we don’t read the thousand emails. We end up getting overwhelmed with information that’s not so important — and the most important things fall through the cracks because we don’t filter unimportant stuff out.”
Bregman’s suggestion, simple as it may seem, is to daily identify what’s most important and valuable to us, and give ourselves permission to pass over the information that doesn’t align with our goals. Then it’s up to us to hold ourselves accountable and ask, “Am I really focusing on these things?” By setting a timer to beep periodically throughout the day we can create an automated trigger to realign our focus and get back to doing that which will help us achieve our goals.
If Only They Made an ADD/ADHD App For Our Smart Phones
Bregman also recommends we build a “mental ‘pause’ button,” allowing us to respond rather than to react to given situations. Whether we have an important speech to give, receive an angry email, or something demands our immediate response, Bregman proposes, “we need to hit pause, to take a deep breath and ask, ‘What is the outcome I want here? Do I want a relationship with this person? How do I want this to end? Then shift to acting on the ending you want, the future you’re trying to achieve.”
And therein lies the power of pause.
To learn more about Bregman’s methods of babysitting our own minds, read his new book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get Things Done.