How do you Focus?

Last Tuesday I was invited by our Training & Development Specialist to attend her training course, Franklin Covey Focus. The name Franklin Covey comes from a combination of Stephen Covey, the creator, and Benjamin Franklin.

She said I didn't need it, I just needed to become familiar with our courses ... Hmm

I was excited to go because it is a part of my department and being new to the company I want to become involved, know what's going on and find my niche within the organization.

I also REALLY wanted that nice leather Franklin Covey planner.

The class began by discussing the "Time runaround dilemma". Put simply our time dilemma stems from:

Because we don't know what is really important, everything seems important.
Because everything seems important, we try to do everything.
Others see us doing everything, so they expect us to do everything.
Doing everything keeps us busy, so we don't have time to think about what really is important.

Sound familiar to anyone?

The first step is to understand the difference between "Important" and "Urgent". At first thought, these words might seem the same. But they are in fact, very different. Defined, important means "of much or great significance or consequence". Urgent meaning "requiring immediate action or attention; pressing". To understand these differences, our tasks are split into 4 quadrents of the Time Matrix.

Q1: Necessity. Items in this quadrant are crises, pressing and deadline driven. They are important AND urgent.

Q2: Productivity and Balance: These items include preparation, planning, prevention and relationship building. They are important but NOT urgent. Many of these actions may prevent an item from reaching Q1 status.

Q3: Deception. Needless interruptions, unnecessary reports, unimportant email, meeting phone calls. These are urgent but NOT important.

Q4: Waste and Excess. Busywork, time wasters, TV, internet ... the list could go on and on. Not only are these items not urgent they are also not important.

Think about the feelings you have when you are experiencing each quadrant. The only quadrant associated with positive feelings is Q3. While it is impossible to eliminate items from other quadrants, spending time in Q3 will alievate stress from other quadrants while creating contentness and feelings of accomplishment. Spending time in Q3 also makes us more capable to say NO to Q3 and Q4 activites.

One should strive to Manage Q1, Focus on Q2, Minimize Q3 and Avoid Q4.

We were then asked to set a defining set of values for ourselves and following up with a clarifying statement. These are things you value personally and/or professionally. A few examples include: Teamwork, Faith, Integrity, Humor, Family. The clarifying statement is there to elaborate what that value means to you.

These values are what you feel you should live by. These are pulled into your Q2 items. But are you fulfilling them?

After defining our values, we were asked to set achievable goals and create timelines and action plans for our goals.

One important thing they touched on was "Sharpening the Saw". This is your YOU time. Schedule it out, plan for it. If you let your Q1, Q3 and Q4 items take from "Sharpening the Saw" you will spend less time in Q2 which is where you want to be.

There were numerous other activites throughout the course that explanined focus and time management and how to better organize ourselves. It was extremely helpful and I am proud to be apart of an organization that invests in developing these skills in associates. This is a course I would recommend others to participate in or offer to others.

Its been a week and I have been diligently using my planner and accomplishing my action items. I am setting weekly and daily goals and it is a good feeling to be accomplishing the things I am setting out to do.

This is one life lesson I'm happy to have learned.

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