You know what a photo looks like when it’s out of focus. In some ways it seems as if it’s really multiple images of the same thing, all stacked up and a little out of sync.
Just the same, it’s hard to tell what you’re looking at.
But when you lose focus in your career on a long-term, or even a short-term basis, your problems start because you don’t know what you’re looking at, or you’re looking at too many things. Your energy becomes scattered and you become less effective.
The prompts that encourage you to take your eyes off the prize, whether on a short-term or long-term basis, are too numerous to mention in their entirety, but here’s a short list of some of the worst offenders, as well as tips on how to banish them:
E-mail – Just because it beeps or whistles doesn’t mean you have to answer it. Don’t be suckered into checking your e-mail too frequently. On the other hand, don’t let those e-mail newsletters and alerts pile up to the point where you need to set aside a morning to clear them out. Depending on what’s normal for you, think about setting aside 45 minutes or so a day, at the same time of day each day, for e-mail. Except for those things which truly are urgent…
Telephone – Some small talk is essential for collegial interaction, but don’t let gossip, the weather or sports distract you from the real reason why you’re calling or answering.
Tiredness – It’s hard to concentrate when you haven’t had enough sleep. People need sleep to be healthy and productive. Don’t try to tough it out. Get the rest you need and you’ll be able to pursue your goals more effectively.
Bad Nutrition – Do you tuck into sweets in the morning and then nod out in the afternoon? Skip breakfast altogether, then eat a huge lunch and crash by about 3 pm? Try combining complex carbohydrates and proteins at all your meals so you’ll have a more stable source of energy. And stop thinking of caffeine as the answer.
Lack of Direction – Losing your way is one thing, not having a destination is another. Set clear goals for yourself for the short and long term. Otherwise, you risk wondering where your day went. The same could happen to your career, too.
Clearly, each of these topics could be the subject of several more posts, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of those gotchas that can getcha to drift off course, so stay tuned.
by Danielle Dresden