C-Suite Network™

Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Focus on What Matters Most

Whatever You Focus on Expands

Just as a photographer focuses on taking the shot of their subject, leaders need to focus on.  Seeing things as a photographer sometimes has its advantages to a leader. You need to look from every direction to see what’s working and what’s not. Solving problems, challenges, and difficulties allow you to visualize better for what you are looking for. Imagine what your sense of accomplishment will feel like when you are able to focus and get done what you need to complete. You can actually create habits to help you focus without distractions to get things done.

“Life is like a camera…focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot.” – Unknown Author

Focus means paying attention. Essentially, if you want to develop focus, develop the skill of paying attention to a particular thought, task, or goal for a specified amount of time – without allowing distractions to break your concentration. Don’t expect it to take place overnight. Be patient and pay attention each time you are about to do and say things that pull you back to your old habits and patterns.

There are so many ways where your attention gets distracted. If you want to try this out, start working on something and your phone will ring, you want to look at your emails, and then again you have someone who wants your attention to ask you something or …You get the idea. So it is very easy to focus on something you don’t need to really focus in on. Your mind wonders and your attention drifts off somewhere else.

Is Your Leadership as Focused as You’ll like it to be? 

“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. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” — Steve Jobs

Everyone has a different meaning for the word “Focus”. The word focus means the concentration of attention or energy on something. Focus means paying attention. So if you want to develop focus, develop the skill of paying attention to a particular thought, task, or goal for a specified amount of time – without allowing distractions to break your concentration. The more you focus your attention, the more you get accomplished.

It’s easy to focus when you have a clear goal. How do you maintain your focus when you don’t have a well-defined goal, or when your mind is confused with many thoughts? Choosing what matters is incredibly hard because no one can do it for you. Staying focused on the task, clarifying the goals, articulating the vision, and encouraging others to stay the course are characteristics of determined leaders.

Prioritizing tasks is the First Step toward Working Easier

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” -Jack Dixon

The smallest things can make the biggest difference. Take a few minutes to think about how focused you are as a leader. No matter what you do your thoughts, ideas and opinions distract you from focusing on what you need to do is key to getting things done. How you manage to focus on what matters most needs you to constantly stop and re-focus to work on what’s in front of you. Focusing on where you’ve been slowing your progress.

Keeping the Focus on What Matters Most

“My key to dealing with stress is simple: just stay cool and stay focused.” -Ashton Eaton

Are your best efforts where you should place your focus? Often that focus isn’t the best direction for the company. How distracted do you get while working on a project or task? What do you do to get back on track?

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”

– Denis Waitley

Sometimes when you focus on negative situations they can paralyze you by making you stuck. Where You Look Is Where You Go. It is very easy to lose sight of what you need to do as so much information overload comes at you every second of every day. How you keep things straight and knowing what to focus on takes skills and training.

Where You Put Your Efforts

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack

Moving yourself or your organization forward requires you to focus on what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. If you continue the way you are going, most likely everything and anything will distract you. Phones rings, having to look at emails, having others asking you questions or just wanting to chat, and so on are just a few examples of distractions you need to close off.

“How can I focus on positive stuff when all I have in my life is negative stuff?” By making a choice to create a new habit and find something positive to focus on. Where you focus is your choice. What will you focus on today? When you focus on things do you notice the detail or are you oblivious to the specifics around you?

Shift Your Priorities

If you’re stuck in a rut you are unable to go anywhere. By shifting your priorities you get to think better in order to uncover valuable insights to help move you and your organization forward. You then can see other things that are more important to focus on. You are blinded by one thing that is not what matters most. The problem, challenge or difficulty may not go away, yet it does not need to be the centerpiece you focus on.

“The one thing you can always control is how you REACT to the uncontrollable.” -Dr. Alan Goldberg

Have you figured out what matters to you and your business?

In the end, Focus on What Matters Most for greater productivity and the results you work towards. You choose where to put your focus. Be aware of what you are doing to accomplish your goals.

Best Practices Body Language Culture Health and Wellness Management

Elevate Your Success with Five Simple Steps

People often convince themselves that highly successful individuals who possess a special gift set themselves apart from everyone else. However, the reality is that your ability to have success, however you define it, can be accomplished with a few simple steps.

Personal responsibility for our actions is seldom championed in society these days, and like it or not, we all live with the consequences of the lifestyle choices that we make every day. We can sit in an office staring at a spreadsheet waiting for our situation to improve or make a few changes that will put us on a path to shaping a better future for ourselves and others. The following are five simple steps you can take to elevate your level of success.

1. Challenge Your Habits and Change Your Routine

It is incredibly easy to fall into the comforts offered by habits and routines, those that make our lives feel like a scene from Groundhog Day, in which the alarm wakes us at the same time every day as we hit the snooze button at least once before jumping into the shower. The familiarity of the daily grind, in which grabbing a coffee as you head into the office before performing the same tasks, can be comforting, yet we often wonder why nothing ever changes.

Our education system tends to encourage everyone to learn one correct answer and basically think in the same way. And when it comes to creativity, only a small number of people might be thought of as “creatives,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Technology is increasingly replacing laborious and repetitive tasks with automation. Creativity and critical thinking have become essential skills in the 21st century and possess the power to make you stand out from the crowd.

There are countless self-help books that advise you how to create new patterns and habits to help you achieve your goals. However, simply getting off the hamster wheel of life and allowing yourself to mix things up by both thinking and doing things differently is a great place to start, and it will stimulate creative thought.

2. Surround Yourself with People Who Lift You Up

They say that we become like the five people we spend the most time with, and ultimately they have the power to either inspire or drain us, so maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the amount of time that you spend with toxic individuals who only bring you down.

Surround yourself with like-minded souls on a similar journey or, better yet, those who can see the big picture better than you can. They will help you see failure as an opportunity and will certainly increase your odds of achieving your dreams.

Business is 80% people and 20% everything else, and this illustrates the importance of investing your time in getting to know open-minded individuals who enjoy helping turn others’ dreams into reality. What if you surrounded yourself with inspiration?

3. Fuel Your Creativity

If you begin your day reading the news that reminds you of all the negative aspects of our world, followed by looking at social media sites that show snapshots of lives that are edited to look much better than your own, you will never increase your productivity or creativity. I like to start each day thinking of all the things I’m grateful for. It’s hard to have a bad day when you start your day like this. Try it!

Whether they are stuck in a traffic jam or are on a delayed train or airplane, or even doing household chores, highly successful people unleash the power of refueling their creativity during these moments of “dead time” by reading books or listening to podcasts.

Books and podcasts on subjects that stretch your thinking are a fantastic way to stay inspired and learn new tools you can use to resolve problems that are stopping you from reaching your goals. Try having fewer calls with people who pull you down and don’t help you move forward, and instead call people who lift you up, or watch a good TED Talk or listen to podcasts or audiobooks that offer advice and insights from others.

Removing yourself from a routine or familiar surroundings and going for a walk in a direction where you haven’t gone before instead of staring at a screen will help a lot. Highly successful individuals often find that their brains will naturally join the dots when they expose themselves to new ideas, surroundings and experiences.

4. Bring Focus and Clarity to Your Dreams

Bringing focus and clarity to your dreams while working alone in front of a computer in a dimly lit room is good, but is not enough on its own. Do not underestimate the importance of sharing and communicating your vision with others. It will attract the right people to you who will begin to see where you are going and offer ideas to help you get there.

By sharing your passion for a future vision and communicating the message with transparency on how it will be achieved, you will find people who can help you to create a solid path to achieve your goals.

5. Embrace Marginal Gains

When Dave Brailsford became the manager of Great Britain’s professional cycling team, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. However, he had a simple concept known as “aggregation of marginal gains” that would revolutionize the sport and lead to his team members becoming tournament champions and Olympic gold medal winners.

The philosophy involved improving tiny areas that were traditionally overlooked by 99 percent in the belief that a long list of 1% improvements would be the difference between being champions or losers.

Researching for a pillow that offered the best sleep for cyclists to take to hotels, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection, were just a few of a long list of improvements that, although they looked tiny, ended up making a massive difference.

Whether you want to lose weight, build a business or achieve any other goal in life, it’s clear that heading straight for the moon with only one step will almost certainly result in failure or demotivation.

Small changes to your daily routine, such as creating a new email signature or changing those boring, stuffy group meetings by asking better questions, could boost your momentum and enthusiasm. All these changes not only deliver long-term improvements but also improve the overall quality of your life.

Will what got you to where you are be enough to take you to the next level? There are entire chapters on how to act in the future in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. I’ll buy the book, you pay the shipping cost. Click here to order your copy.
Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Summer Strategies to Focus Attention on Business Growth

Does your business slowdown in the summer? If so, summer strategies can create ways to pay attention to your team and your business during slower months. The summer is a wonderful time to take business outside, to meet clients outside when possible. This is a great way to mix up otherwise mundane workdays and create an exciting change of pace for everyone.

The first thing I would suggest is to take advantage of the weather. If there are opportunities to meet your clients outdoors, make the most of it. If you have a patio or a facility for team members to take their lunch outside, make the most of it.

Next, consider using this time to review where you’re at in the business. The six-month mark is a great time to review your business plan, to review your marketing plan and do a quick health check of the team you have in place. The results you’re getting, the productivity you’re enjoying, the sales you’re making, this is a really good time to dedicate time to actually do a review at the six-month mark.

Another idea would include doing a summer clean. For me and my team, this is a really good time for us to update policies, procedures, operations manuals, logistics, it’s a great time to just take a breath and have a look at how do we want to complete the next six months.

Also consider, this is a brilliant time of year to focus on your personal development. There might be conferences you can attend, put on by your industry, where you can develop your skills or maybe send some of your team. It’s a really great time to catch up on your summer reading. Hint, hint, if you haven’t read Attention Pays, great summer reading. There are so many books I recommend. You can find additional details on my blog.

But it’s also a brilliant time to invest in your team. Is there an activity you can all do together? Is there something fun you could plan, maybe you leave early on a Friday and you do something together. Maybe there’s a volunteering opportunity for a charity that you want to support.

The summer is a great time to review where you’re at as a six-month strategy. It’s a great time to do a summer clean and focus on your personal development and do something for the team. What would you add? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Best Practices Growth Industries Management Personal Development

Pay Attention to Peer and Partner Departments

What are you doing to pay attention to other departments? That’s right. In today’s organizations, we have so many different business models, we have matrix organizations. Whereas a leader you might have virtual relationships with you, that don’t have a direct line to you but maybe they have responsibilities that impact your team. Or maybe you have other departments who have to get work done before you can touch it in order for you to proceed. We need to pay attention to other departments. So, today, what I would like to consider is how do we have that profession attention commitment to other departments?

The first step is an obvious one and that’s about building relationships. Now, building relationships sounds so easy but how are you doing it? Are you inviting people to your team meeting so that they can get an insight into what your team’s talking about? Are you shadowing people to understand what’s going on in their business?

One of my clients is a major media company, and they have an advertising and sales decision. Now in advertising and ad is called a “spot”, so what I was able to do was to follow a spot. Like a day in the life of a spot from the moment they sold the ad to the client all the way through until it was placed on television. What as fascinating about that was working with all the different departments to understand how everything impacts something else.

When was the last time you developed department relationships by reviewing end-to-end processes for efficiencies? What relationships could grow? What policies could you update?

The first step in truly paying attention to other departments is build relationships. This can often happen through things like affinity groups. Another one of my clients has major affinity groups for all kinds of different reasons that people meet. Can you build relationships through affinity groups?

The second strategy is to share success. That’s right. So what does that mean? Understanding objectives of other departments is really important because you can know how to celebrate when they get some great things happening. But in the same way, if another department has an implication, has and impact is probably a better word, on what you do, then share with them when that goes well. Share the successes and not just the challenges. Too often we only reach out to another department when somethings gone wrong.

Wouldn’t it be cool to proactively pay attention to celebrate success together? Share new stories, share customer experiences, testimonials, emails that are great. Share success stories with other departments, so they have a greater appreciation of what they’re doing and how it impacts you and vice versa.

The third strategy is to invite collaboration. When you have someone who comes into your team from another department, they have a very different perspective. They might look at the world more creatively. They might have a great idea so ask for their input, encourage them to share, openly, about anything they see that might improve the way you do things, might enhance the client experience.

I have one client where they do regular Lunch and Learns for other departments. It’s a great way for them to meet other people, to share success stories about what’s going on but also, to be able to collaborate on how they can perform better as a company overall.

Three ways that you can pay attention to other departments. Build relationships, share success and invite collaboration. What would you add?

You see I believe that when we truly pay attention to others, attention comes back over and repeatedly. You’ve heard me say it before and in our book, “Attention Pays”, that when you pay attention, attention pays, right?

What are some additional ways that you can really pay professional attention and commit to other departments? Other departments impact your success as a leader. Like I said, “When you pay attention, attention pays.”

Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Create Exceptional Experiences for Customers

With Exceptional Attention to Detail

Do your customers know how important they are to you? And when I use the word customer I’m talking about your clients, your patients, your members, your students, your team members, whatever you call them, let’s use the word customers today. How are you paying professional attention to your customers, whoever they might be?

I want to share with you what I call BDA, which is just a fancy name, or process, for before, during, and after. When it comes to truly paying professional attention, and committing to our customers, I want to share with you an experience I had, and a great example of an organization, or really a hotel, that demonstrates what I call intentional attention through their BDA process.

I wanted to surprise a dear friend and she lives in North Carolina, and so I had booked a weekend in New York as a surprise. Now, what happened was before I even got to New York I had the opportunity to go to their website, register all my details, but it was quite a fun check-in process. And one thing they asked about was there any special occasion? So of course, I mentioned my friend Leslie’s birthday. Then, I was thinking about what made it a really great attentive experience before I even got to the hotel. Well, their website’s well designed, there are so many great pictures. All my questions were answered, their registration process was simple. And I had done quite a bit of research on them through social media.

The Exceptional Customer Experience

I had heard about this unique property called the Library Hotel, and I had personal endorsements from others who’d stayed there. So, I want you to have a think about what are your customers telling others? What are people looking at when they view your social media accounts? Are they sharing and seeing what you stand for? And do you make it easy for your customers to do business with you?

There are some ideas before you even get that customer interaction. But let’s talk about what happened during my stay at the Library Hotel. It was a very hot summer day, we had both got into the city in very different ways, and we jumped in a cab to get to the hotel. It was a hot, sticky day. Imagine our delight when we were offered water by the attentive, kind staff who offered us water upon entering. We were early, so our room wasn’t ready for us at that time.

But, what was amazing was that they wished my friend a happy birthday as soon as she walked up to the counter, which is incredible, and they offered us a hospitality suite to be able to change so we could then go and enjoy a luncheon. Not only that, the hospitality suite was equipped with lovely complimentary drinks and snacks, and it was a gorgeous beautiful facility.

We told them a little bit about our day’s plans, a little bit of shopping in Soho, and then lunch at Balthazar. Now, Balthazar is one of my favorite French bistros in New York, and it is just a hustling and bustling very New York type place. I go there whenever I have a chance.

We had mentioned this as we jumped in our Uber to go out after leaving our luggage at the Library hotel. We had a lovely lunch and after returning from lots and lots of shopping, they told us our room as ready and they had sent our bags up to our room.

Now, here’s what’s interesting. When we got into our room there was a birthday card for Leslie, some little chocolates. There were two mugs with the Library Hotel so that we can enjoy them after we left. And I looked across the room and I saw a bundle of my most favorite champagne. How did they know? What was even more remarkable was when I found this. This is the cookbook for, you guessed it, Balthazar.

They had organized for a copy of this book, including a lovely handwritten note from the manager about our experience. Now, this is attention to detail! They gave us a beautiful room overlooking the New York Library – the hotel’s namesake.

Every room is on the Dewey Decimal System. Isn’t that interesting!? You might remember, if you’re as old as me, going to a library and pulling out the draws. And they had those little-indexed cards with the number and then you had to go find the book. I know, before the internet, I’m that old.

But the Library Hotel was a fantastic case study in how, from the moment we set foot on their property, they paid attention, the staff was trained, everyone was attentive. They listened to our conversation and added little tiny moments that would make us remember it for a lifetime. We had an amazing time at the Library Hotel.

Interesting. After we left, so remember BDA, before, during, and after, they also reached out to see how was our stay. They asked for feedback. We got lovely responses, and obviously, we shared our experience on social media. What are you doing for your customers to make them feel seen and heard, before they interact with you, during their interaction with you, and then after they leave you?

Create Your Exceptional Experience

We work hard to get customers to support our business. There are so many tools available for you to you to pay attention and commit to your customers. Your website, your marketing collaterals, your advertising, your social media, your staff training, your policies, your procedures. And the experience of your physical environment if you have one.

What are all the things you could be paying attention to? All those touch points that leave an impact on your customers? I want to challenge you today to have a look at one of these areas, before, during, or after. Think about what could you do differently and commit to your customers in an even deeper way.

Best Practices Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Personal Development

Answer the Call for Rest and Recovery

You know that I’m Australian. But, I’m also a US citizen. Now for me, my entire family is in Australia. Now my honey and I moved here many, many, many years ago and I still call Australia home, and I call the US home as well.

I think it’s important I go back to Australia to see my family. Now so many people say to me, oh I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, but it’s so far. Well here’s how you think of Australia. It is very simply just six movies from LA. That’s right. Once you get on the plane, have a little snack, have a meal, have a little nap, watch six movies and voila, you’re there.

But why I think it’s so important to share this message about why I go back to see my family, is I think it’s really important to live a life that we don’t have any regrets. I think so often as busy professionals we think, oh, I’ll make a vacation when I have time. I’ll make plans when I have time, I’ll put it off, I’ll put it off, I’ll do it when I’m not so busy. Well here’s the reality. We are all busy. And one of the things I want to challenge you about is as a leader you are role modeling for your team about the importance of recovery. If you don’t spend time with your family or do whatever recharges your batteries then you become a tired leader and honestly, you become a boring leader.

My team knows that I have to go back to Australia every year because I get homesick. There is literally no cure for homesickness except being with people that I love. There is something about the Australian concha, the food, the sense of humor, the beauty the sunshine, the animals and it’s very different to what I experience here. I love living in the US. I love working with my American clients and my Canadian and also love being able to go home to Australia, see my family, wrap my arms around my mom, see my baby sisters, well they’re not really babies anymore, see my nephews and nieces. To shop at my favorite stores, to see my dearest friends there.

What are you doing to take care of your recovery? How do you recover? How do you show your family that they mean so much to you? You see when we pay attention it’s not just about what we pay attention to professionally, it’s who we pay attention to personally. And for me, that involves a trip to Australia every year. Sometimes even twice.

While you may not need to go to Australia. When was the last time you visited with your family? And if you can’t physically visit them, when is the time last time you videoed with them? I want to encourage you, what’s your Australia. What’s a trip maybe that you’ve always wanted to take but you keep it off? Now is the time to book it. I go back to Australia every year because I love and adore my family. I enjoy spending time with them and frankly, I need to see them. They are a recovery opportunity for me. What’s your version of Australia? I’d love to hear from you.


Best Practices Growth Health and Wellness Human Resources Management

Increase Summer Focus by Embracing Intentional Distractions

Boost productivity by embracing distractions.

Have you ever considered having summer hours? In my small business, we have summer hours that start in June and go all the way to the end of August. Well, what does that mean? It simply means we finish early on a Friday afternoon.

Now, what I know to be true about where I live is everybody wants to escape and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. Some people have shore houses or lake houses or they want to go to the beach.

Can you create summer hours? What about giving your team flexibility to be able to work from home, outdoors or remotely on a Friday? Could they leave the office a little earlier so they can enjoy the beautiful sunshine and maybe avoid the crazy traffic that starts on a weekend? Does your business allow people to be more flexible in the summer?

You see, what I think is important is if you want to boost productivity, if you want to pay attention to what needs to get done, it means you also have to make time for play. So often, our team works so hard, working and answering emails at night, taking meetings after hours, attending conferences, and yet we don’t always give them the time to play.

Take the Summer Challenge

Can you make your more productive summer more fun? Can you have more play? Now, the easiest way to do is book it in. Create easy things. Like maybe people can go home early every other Friday or maybe you have people who alternate so that something is also covered in your office, but that they get the opportunity to work remotely. What are some ways you can implement summer hours or intentional play? Book it in.

Create systems allowing your team can work remotely. Provide employees with a flexible work schedule so they are off every Friday, or every other Friday. Maybe they could even extend the weekend. It could go to Monday. You just need to find what works for you.

Turn on your “Out of the office.” Make the message fun so others know you won’t be around but would be delighted to help them when you return.

If you decide on summer hours, can you make it fun, make it playful? Maybe with a few systems in place, you can have meetings outside.  Allow the team to understand the systems, make sure the team understands the protocols and policies. Let’s redirect phone lines. Let’s put “Out of office” messages together, and let’s make sure we make the most of our summer. Step away from your devices. Hang up the phone. Get out in the sun and enjoy your summer.

Best Practices Growth Health and Wellness Human Resources Management

Achieve the Ideal Workday

Sit back and imagine your ideal, perfect workday. What would it look like? Would it be a day without meetings? Perhaps it would be a day without interruptions. Maybe your ideal workday is one where you are focused on accomplishing the monumental task that has been occupying too much headspace.

When you consider what your ideal workday looks like, it’s important to make it a reality. While not every day can be ‘ideal,’ many can with a little strategic thought and attention to planning.

Here are some strategies to help you achieve your ideal workday:

Prepare today for tomorrow. Schedule the last 15 minutes of each workday to review what’s on deck for the next day. These strategies will ensure you have an ideal start to the next day.

1. Scrutinize your calendar and the meetings scheduled. Are they necessary – do you have to attend? Are you prepared – do you have an agenda?

2. Consider what projects you want to accomplish and the deadlines that are looming. In your calendar, set aside chunks of time to focus exclusively on accomplishing those tasks.

3. Tidy up your workspace to eliminate distractions upon starting work in the morning.

4. If you travel for work, host video conference calls or face-to-face meetings, take a few moments to consider what you are going to have to take with you and set it aside.

5. Visualize what you need to wear to be comfortable, sharp and focused at work the next day. Lay it out, press it and accessorize the night before.

6. If you’re going to make it an early day, prepare your breakfast the night before.

Make a Game Plan: At the beginning of each workday, write down three non-negotiable tasks that must be accomplished before ending your day. Maybe it’s making sales calls or completing a project. Either way, keep the list short to help increase the sense of urgency and focus needed from you.

Contemplate Quiet. When you allocate time for specific tasks, use the time wisely. The best way to achieve this is to have a quiet, distraction-free workspace ensuring your total focus.

  • Honor the time set aside in your schedule for accomplishing specific tasks, as if it were a client meeting. Don’t be late or allow interruptions.
  • Close the door. Our pro-open-door society is great for engaging employees and colleagues; however, can be challenging to working in an uninterrupted environment. It’s okay to close the office door when you need the time to focus exclusively on the tasks at hand. If you don’t have a door, consider using headphones as a ‘do not disturb’ message you can send to others.
  • Go off-site or seek an alternative, quiet location when you need to ensure interruptions won’t occur.
Best Practices Entrepreneurship Management Personal Development Women In Business

Intention Makes Attention Valuable

Ever thought about the value of paying attention?

Attention sometimes gets a bad rap in today’s society. Perhaps that is because we’ve come to associate the concept of attention with unrelenting selfies that scream “look at me’ and the constant sharing of eery details of one’s life on social media. That is not the type of attention I want to discuss. The type of attention that truly matters and makes a difference in our lives is intentional attention – the kind that helps you show up as the best version of yourself in all roles of your life.

We all want and need attention from the people who are important to us. We want to feel we are the center of somebody’s attention, even if we don’t want to be the center of everybody’s attention.

Attention is critical throughout all aspects of our lives – including our jobs. We need focused attention from our leaders and employees to get work done, to achieve results, and to succeed. our customers and our teams need attention, too. People want to be seen and heard and to know that their concerns are being addressed.

Attention is not optional; it’s vital. It is attention that drives the results we all want and need.

Perhaps this why we always hear the phrase “Pay attention!” Our parents told us to pay attention. Our teachers told us to pay attention. We tell our kids to pay attention. These are all valuable life lessons.

The issue is that most of us are giving distracted, unfocused attention (like texting while driving) to everything and everyone we come in contact with. That kind of attention is worthless. It sends the message that the focus of our attention has little value, meaning, or importance to us.

Intention is what makes attention valuable.

Intentional attention is active. it involves seeing, hearing, and thinking about who is with you and what needs your focus right now. it requires us to choose consciously, act deliberately, and invest transformationally with our attention.

If you are ready to intentionally invest your attention in what matters at the moment; the people you are talking to, the priorities you are acting on, and the passions you are pursuing, it’s time to pick up a copy of Attention Pays and start paying attention to what matters most.

Best Practices Entrepreneurship Management Marketing Personal Development Women In Business

Protect Your Schedule, Time and Attention

Are you constantly competing with others over your schedule? Do you feel inundated by a barrage of interruptions and distractions each day that leaves you feeling as if you worked like a crazy person all day and accomplished nothing as a result?

In my new book, Attention Pays, I outline strategies for busy professionals to protect their time and attention from being fritted away by anyone and anything asking for it.

Here are seven strategies you can being implementing today to take control of your schedule and permit you the time necessary to leverage your attention to accomplish more each day.

Create a personal daily strategic 15-minute appointment – Take this time to determine your top three non-negotiable activities you must complete before you sleep tonight. Several years ago, I challenged an executive leadership team at Comcast to invest 15 minutes of their attention every day in a strategic appointment. They say awesome results, become the highest performing team in their region. Their shared increased focus allowed them to prioritize completion of strategic objectives and invest in their people’s development instead of being distracted by everyday busyness.

Schedule your morning routine – We outlined this routine in Chapter 3 of my new book, Attention Pays. It’s critical that you get this on your calendar so that phone calls or meetings don’t encroach on this important time.

Assign certain activities to specific days of the week – This system has you group regular activities together to maximize productivity and minimize distractions. Will it work seamlessly with every week in the same way? no, but with a system, your team or assistant can schedule meetings on designated days. We worked with a financial services executive to design her ideal week. here is what hers looked like. Yours, of course, will be different:

  • Monday: Meet with team members, senior leadership, and her boss in the office.
  • Tuesday to Thursday: Industry and vendor networking events, client appointments, presentation preparation, and travel. These days were spent outside the office and included a work-from-home day.
  • Friday: As she enjoyed being home for weekends, any meetings were local and never scheduled to finish later than 5pm. If no meetings were scheduled, she focused on strategizing for the upcoming week and catching up on administrative work.

Schedule no talk days – My best friend manages multiple companies, raises my two beautiful God-daughters, volunteers in her community, and enjoys working with her clients. She discovered that on days she doesn’t talk to anyone, she’s massively productive. So, she started scheduling no-talk days – days with no appointments, which are dedicated to strategy and achieving goals. As an extrovert, I found this strategy especially helpful. Could you do this once a quarter to make more progress toward your bigger goals?

Schedule service days – I allocate one day a month on my calendar for pro bono assistance to people in my industry who need help. could you add a service day to your calendar?

Time block – Schedule space in your calendar for strategy, email review, meetings, social media engagement, and personal time.

Create visual recognition systems – Use color-coding to simplify your life. My calendar uses a variety of colors to show speaking, travel, consulting, personal appointments, and administration and business development.

Block out personal time in advance and honor the appointment with yourself as you would a client or employee.

Pick up a copy of Attention Pays to learn more about creating an extraordinary life by ‘unplugging’ from the constant barrage of disruptions and ‘plugging in’ to the tools, strategies, and mindsets that allows you to harness your attention to reach your highest potential.