Do you have trouble finding time to focus on your goals?
Are you overwhelmed by all the urgent tasks you have to do, along with the hustle and bustle of everyday life?
In our busy, technology-driven world, it’s easy to get pulled in a million different directions every day. We have to shoot off urgent emails, submit work reports, help our kids with their homework, whip up a healthy dinner, all while trying to stay on top of our own goals too.
Short of adding more hours to our day, what can we do to manage our time and our workload, without overstraining our energy and our emotional bandwidth?
How to focus: Choose your top 3
While we can’t add more hours to the day, we can amplify our efforts by prioritizing one thing: focus.
We suggest focusing on your top 3 priorities for maximum impact every day.
That’s right. Only 3 priorities. No multitasking or cramming every work assignment in a 24 hour period, just focusing on the big essentials, the projects and goals that matter to you. By streamlining your never-ending to-do list, you will end up having more focus and energy to take action on the things that matter most.
But how will I accomplish everything on my to-do list?
That’s the point! The key is to work smarter, not harder. And this often means focusing on the tasks that are important, not deadline-driven, and letting go of tasks that don't need to be done by you or don't need to be done today.
According to this Harvard Business Review article: “It’s natural to want to get deadline-driven tasks squared away and off your mental to-do list. A paradox many people face is that our most meaningful tasks are less likely to have deadlines than tasks that are relatively unimportant.”
That’s why it’s essential to write down your priorities and make time for them. By clearly defining your top 3 priorities for the day, you ensure that your most important tasks are getting the time and attention they need. And by clearing away the excess work, your mind can better focus on managing your goals.
With the top 3 technique, you’re not going to exert your energy trying to cross off every miscellaneous task off your list. Instead, you’re going to look at the big picture goals of your day and determine what’s a real priority and what’s not. Maybe responding to office emails about meeting logistics is time sensitive, but is it important to your overarching career goals? If taking an Adobe workshop is important to your career development, then prioritize that and then work on email responses after.
Remember: focus on the things that serve you and your goals. Eliminate the tasks and obligations that don’t align with your purpose.
So how do you choose your top 3? First things first, you have to be realistic about your expectations and the amount of work you can take on. Sure, it would be fun to take up gardening or learn a new language, but do these activities truly light you up? Yes, it would be great to organize your closet and donate unused items...but is it truly a pressing priority or can this wait until a later time?
Choosing your top 3 doesn’t mean ignoring your work deadlines or family commitments or abandoning important chores like doing laundry or the dishes. Your top 3 allows you to focus on the important things first, so that your brainpower and energy are conserved for your most valuable projects. Then, with your leftover time, you can give your attention to secondary tasks.
And we’ve made choosing your top 3 even easier, with our new Top 3 Notepad. At Ink+Volt, it’s no secret that we love a good notepad. And our Top 3 Pad is a great way to clarify your priorities and strategize for the day ahead. You can use this pad as part of your morning routine--identify the top 3 things you want to achieve, and then approach the day with more refined purpose.
10 focus quotes to help you accomplish your goals
If you need extra inspiration on how to focus and prioritize, we’ve gathered some of our favorite focus quotes to help you win your day. From finding purpose in your career to overcoming obstacles and staying true to your vision, these focus quotes will surely inspire.
- “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” ― Bruce Lee
- “Busy is a decision.” ― Designer Debbie Millman
- “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done.” ― Steve Jobs
- “When I play my match, everything else is completely not in my mind anymore.” ― Naomi Osaka
- "I would tell players to relax and never think about what's at stake. Just think about the basketball game. If you start to think about who is going to win the championship, you've lost your focus." ― Michael Jordan
- "It doesn't matter what else is going on. When you walk into your arena or your - whatever you excel at--you're there to take care of the job that you have to do."― Michael Phelps
- “Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” ― Serena Williams
- “I work a lot. Like, a lot. I feel like I must have been watching TV as a kid and that cartoon parable about the industrious ants and the lazy grasshopper came on at a vital moment when my soft little brain was hardening, and the moral of it was imprinted on me. The result of which is that I’m usually hyper-prepared for whatever I set my mind to do, which makes me feel deserving of attention and professional success, when that’s what I’m seeking.” ― Mindy Kaling
- “So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”― Phil Knight, Shoe Dog, Nike founder
- “Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.” ― Octavia E. Butler