Distractions come in all shapes and sizes and they are everywhere. For me, a self-employed, work out of my home sort of guy, distractions are a challenge I face every day (I should add I am no stranger to succumbing to them now and then). Face it, life is more than just work after all. Whether you live to work or work to live, it’s not always easy to maintain your focus.
So how can you maintain your focus? You might start by noting that distractions are not all bad; it’s a matter of timing and priority. If a golfer chose to focus on the view rather than the ball, his game would surely reflect it. When he is swinging his club he knows that his priority lies in focusing on the ball. However, between shots the view may serve to soothe and compose him; the distraction may actually improve his game. In fact if you focus too intently you may be at greater risk of failure. People who bury themselves too deeply in their work are less likely to observe what is going on in the environment around them. When focus becomes tunnel vision you are at a disadvantage. Your livelihood depends upon your ability to be aware of and responsive to your employees, clients and your’ environment.
The Big Picture
The bigger question is how do you balance the need to focus with the need to be open to the stream of information that bombards you each day? The answer is to develop a clear understanding of the big picture; to appreciate the big picture requires that you observe (and filter) the daily information stream and at the same time maintain a close connection with your core purpose. Yes, you still need to apply deeper focus on particular tasks; the big picture is not a substitute for applied focus. The big picture keeps you aligned with your strategic purpose while reminding you of the importance of being responsive to the external and internal changes that impact your business. This approach brings a bit more sensibility and harmony to the task of mapping out the direction your business is moving in.
So go ahead and play the game and while you are at it enjoy the view. Think of the view as a bonus rather than a distraction. When you need to bury your head into the details, do it (it is essential) but remember to always keep the big picture in mind.