Have you ever thought about how many times a day your focus is divided among different tasks — and the consequences that follow? Often when we try and do two (or more) things at the same time, none of those tasks end up being done nearly as well as they could have been had we exercised more discipline and focused our sole attention on one task at a time. While some things lend themselves nicely to multitasking (i.e. taking a phone call while walking the dog), many other tasks suffer terribly when we try and do both together (i.e. studying and playing video games). This week I offer a simple, yet powerful solution to maximizing the results of any given task you are faced with in the future: Do the next thing best.
Do the next thing best
Think about the power of the sentence above — when we put all of our effort into doing the next thing on our list to the best of our ability, only then will our focus be pinpoint, our motivation channeled precisely in the right direction, and our resiliency galvanized and ready to take on stress and adversity. The message, while simple, is incredibly powerful and yields great results to those who commit to focusing on only one thing at a time, while ignoring everything else in the very moment.
So many times in life when we fail or come up short, it is not because we aren’t intelligent enough or able to carry out the task, but instead because our attention is divided. In other words, we have “taken our eye off the ball,” and rather than focus and give 100% to what it is we are doing in the moment, we instead only give it partial attention why simultaneously directing some of our attention to other things. It is in this precise moment where our effort lapses, the results we had hoped for do not happen, and our confidence takes a big hit while we process how we really weren’t good enough to get the job done. This thinking, of course, is not necessarily true as we really might have been capable, only that our own thinking and focus wasn’t where it needed to be.
Try this approach instead
When I work with clients I often give a homework assignment to have them go through an entire day giving 100% to whatever they are doing in that moment. I am very literal in this assignment, meaning the goal is to do the next thing best whatever that next thing is, including having an enjoyable breakfast with family, driving to school/work with a clear focus and not being disrupted by phone calls and text messages, and locking in when at school, practice, or work. The goal is to feel what it’s like to be completely immersed into an activity and minimize all outside distractions. While this might sound easy, it is actually quite challenging for most people.
Focus is a really big part of life success, and it may be even more invaluable today with so many things around us constantly battling for our attention (i.e. text messages, social media). Focus is a big part of discipline and mental toughness, and it is one of the best ways to maximize human potential — and the best part is that we can all improve in this area.
Invest everything you have moment to moment and take note what happens. By fully engaging with company the relationships in your life will strengthen; by putting your full focus into your studies your grades will suddenly improve; and by directing your full attention to your job and/or sport you will very quickly see your talents reach a new level. It may not always be easy to turn off the outside noise and focus on only one thing, but the return on this investment makes it very well worth your effort to try whenever possible.