3 Ways to Make the Best Use of Time and Talents

 image by Karin Christensen -Scientific Animation & Illustration

As a communication skills and speech coach, I repeatedly see how professionals get held back by lack of focus. We are interrupted throughout our day by stop-ins, callers, email notices, text messages, Facebook updates, LinkedIn status/connection requests, noise and trips to the coffee pot. The one thing we are good at is turning our head. But at the end of the day, it makes us feel miserable. That which needs work is focus.

This barrier-producing pattern hugely impacts our results. We delay projects yet another week, postpone meetings with our referral partners, tell our direct reports or team members we need to reschedule lunch, and once again delay our follow-up on phone messages and emails. Simply because our attention was alerted to the urgent, yet unimportant.

This lack of focus habit affects all average people. 80% of us (average people) fall behind out of lack of focus.  This not only delays results, it communicates volumes to us and those around us. To us it says, “I’m never going to get ahead.” And we start to believe it. The next day, after reviewing our list and the many adjustments we’ve made over the past months, we wonder if things will ever change.

Others see this pattern in us and they wonder where our hearts really are. If we have committed to something for them, they are skeptical of the outcome – they’ve seen us struggle with focus before and wonder if we’ll really commit to what they are expecting. It affects our credibility, our trust and our relationships.

This is the core of what leads people to use my services. Their focus is fuzzy and their ability to make decisions is impaired by this overwhelming feeling of being Average. They are starting to get an inferiority complex, and they want it to stop. They can tell that their key relationships are doubting their abilities – all because focus has been fuzzy and they can’t move forward on their own. On top of it all, they don’t know what to say, let alone what to do.

As a communication skills coach I help them in a unique way. I first help them remember what they are good at. This is vital – it gives them renewed hope in themselves. Up until now, they’ve lost most of that feeling and most of what they say and do reflects this. From there we address their self-management skills. These are skills that make all of us wish we were just a little better. Yep, all of us wish we were just a little bit better at either the Task- or the People-related skills that tells us whether we’ve effectively done our duty today.

Our strengths will help us become better at these tasks. But we tend to forget we really have all it takes to feel good about ourselves. Instead, we focus on the wrong things – the things that make us feel inadequate. Then we get in a funk about never being good enough, and there you have it. We get stuck in a rut.

When people see me for help, I recommend 3 ways to make the best use of their time and talents.

  1. Select one skill in each area (Task, People) to work on for 30 days. It keeps you from being overwhelmed, and it gives you something to assess within a definite amount of time. What I want you to assess is, how did you improve? For those of you who may want to know what these skills are, contact me.
  2. Build a structure that will support this focus. By this I mean, how will you remember to focus on this every single day? A post-it note on your computer screen? Move a chair out of place so it reminds you every time you look at it? With this structure you will regularly focus on the desire, which means you will follow-through. If these suggestions don’t work, contact me. It’s important to find a structure.
  3. Make yourself accountable to someone. It’s one thing to hold yourself accountable. But when we are accountable to others, we try a bit harder. Nobody wants to feel inadequate. Especially in public. Making ourselves accountable helps us take the extra steps to see our focus through.

For those of you who don’t trust folks enough to ask them to hold you accountable, see me. We can work on this together.

People not only want to focus on improvement, they want results. They want to feel motivated. And they want to feel good at the end of the day.

Here’s a final tip for Focus that Makes the Best Use of Time and Talents

1.Write out the following affirmation, 7 times:
Today I am focusing on my best use of time and talents.

It’s really that simple, folks.

2.Then repeat the statement aloud throughout your day.

Writing it will commit it to mind. It will encourage you to plan your day, to work on your priorities, to have a gentle and sincere response to those who interrupt you, to handle distractions and to get back on track.

Repeating it aloud several times will be your way of coaching yourself back into focus, to follow-through with your commitments, to showing up credibly, to building trusting relationships and to speaking with confidence.

Want to know more? Get in touch. You deserve to feel good at the end of the day.

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On May 2nd, 2011, posted in: communication skills, focus, Merri Bame, speech coach by