Focus, Focus, Focus

Last week I tweeted this.

A friend asked me to elaborate on this. Why is that the theme? What does this mean for me?

My Answer

To me, focus is more of a mindset than a verb. It’s a way of operating that guides your actions and decisions.

It’s a mindset of prioritization. Setting a goal and creating a prioritized list of actions that will cause you to achieve it.

It’s being relentless in pursuit of that goal. Delegating more and understanding how to best use the resources you have.

It’s force-ranking everything. Eliminating anything that distracts from achieving the end goal.

What This Means For Me

This means changing how I spend my time. There’s a lot of calls and meetings I would have said “yes” to that I’ll now say “no” to. It means being protective of my calendar, rather than at the mercy of other people’s schedules. It means structuring my day in a way that optimizes my time and moves the company closer to our goal.

Nothing great in life gets accomplished without focus. So focus.

Structuring A Day

I didn’t publish a blog post yesterday. An urgent request upended my morning. It took me until 2:30pm to finish before doing any other work (or eating).

This is not the way I like to start my day. Unfortunately, it happens in a startup. It’s the nature of the beast. On all other days I have a specific day structure I like to stick to.

The optimal structure of one’s day depends upon who that person is and how they operate. I’ve designed mine to take advantage of the creative thoughts I have in the morning. I then batch my meetings, phone calls, and “manager time” in the afternoon.

If you’re not familiar with the idea of a maker’s schedule vs a manager’s schedule, I recommend this post (and/or this one). If those are too long, here’s a great video that I showed our team this morning when discussing this very topic.

The Structure of My Day

I like my mornings to be for making. I write. I work on product. I think and problem-solve. I try not to check email until I’ve completed at least one big “maker to do”. I’m not always successful in that but I’m getting better.

Around noon I switch from maker to manager. The rest of my day breaks up into 30 and 60 minute blocks of calls, meetings, and administrative work.

Each week I audit how I spent my time and adjust from there, optimizing for the highest yield activities. I break those activities into inputs and outputs.

My highest yield inputs = talking to people (to gather information), reading, and research.

My highest yield outputs = talking to people (to deliver information), writing, and product work.

I work to structure my day and my role to optimize for these as much as possible. It’s an exercise of continual iteration and improvement. Time is a finite resource. It’s the most precious thing we have. How are you spending your’s?