Focus is vital to get work done and as a COO, you need to know how to stay focused. Having a list of tips that will help you keep your focus can be beyond useful to look back on every few months. It’ll give you a little inspiration and boost your focus so that you can get more done.
We compiled some tips for you to refer to or add to a list of your own!
The speaker Victoria Labalme, during one of her talks, mentioned the famous mime Marcel Marceau, under whom she had studied. She said that Marcel used to say, “breathe, breathe.”
It sounds strange for a COO to be taking tips from a mime, but it really is amazing how simply slowing down to breathe as though you’re in a yoga class really helps your brain to find the focus it needs.
- Compress Time
Try pretending that you only have two hours a day to work. What three to five things would you do during those two hours a day? As a COO, it can be hard to imagine getting everything you need done in that small amount of time but just imagine it.
Now, only you know what those three to five things are, delegate or stop doing everything else that you currently think you need to do. Instead, keep your focus only on those three to five things all day every day.
- Eat Something
Even COOs get hungry. It’s certainly hard to concentrate when your stomach is rumbling, so make sure you have a light snack before you settle into work on your top priorities. Not only will you avoid the “When is lunch?” distracting thought, but a healthy snack will also give you more energy and help you think better, too.
- Get Off Your Email
Email has to be one of the worst time-wasters ever, even if it’s a necessary thing to have, especially as a COO. Start your day by working on one of your top five projects of the day then don’t check your email until 4 pm—not a moment earlier. It really can wait. Don’t worry about missing anything important. If something is an emergency, someone will eventually call. As soon as you start checking your email, the temptation will be to get sucked into it which totally drains your productivity.
It’s a tip a COO should give everyone on their team. Try sending an email to your team that says, “Don’t tell anyone, but come find me in the boardroom right away.” If anyone is there within the five-minute mark, it shows how little they’re focused on the critical projects and how distracted they can get by their emails.
- Let Fear Guide You
You may think that a COO shouldn’t get scared, and if they do they should work to get rid of it. Actually they shouldn’t. Nothing helps you focus quite like fear, so harness it. It’s a tool to be utilized, not a tool to be forgotten.
- Minimize Distractions
“First things first: You need to eliminate distractions. While you can’t do away with everything, you can make an effort to reduce or get rid of as many distractions as possible.” – Healthline
There is a Latin phrase that essentially means, “a messy desk is a messy mind.” It’s absolutely true. The more clutter you have on your desk, workstation, and walls around you, the more distracted you are. Keeping a clean work area will help you focus.
- Put Your Headphones On
Put headphones on, put on some great tunes, and start on your tasks. Even COOs can rock out to their music once in a while. Music actually helps a lot of people be hyper-productive, especially when listening to a certain genre. Try playing around with different kinds of music. What you normally listen to might not necessarily be what keeps you focused.
Try playing around with volume, too. Some people work better when the music is quieter, like background noise in a coffee shop. Others need to put the volume up as high as it goes to block out the world around them. Find what works best for you.
- Reward Yourself
A COO is going to have a lot of huge tasks to complete.Try breaking your projects up into small, achievable parts. When you finish each part, give yourself a reward. This could be a night out or a glass of wine with dinner. As long as you have something to encourage you to keep getting things done.
- Set Timers
It may seem odd, but a simple timer can help you focus immensely. Try setting it for thirty minutes and then focus on one thing until those thirty minutes are up. The pressure of it can really help anyone get their work done.
“Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day.” – Entrepreneur
- Slay the Dragon
One single task can really tear you down and break your focus if you’re constantly thinking about it. Often that’s the task you’re dreading the most—as a COO, you probably get a lot of these. Instead of avoiding it, figure out what the big ugly task is that you have to get done today and do it first. Once you have the thing you’re dreading out of the way, the rest looks easy and achievable.
“If a task is too easy, it’s hard to stay motivated and feel challenged. However, if a task is too hard, you run an equal risk of giving up or feeling overwhelmed. Balance is key.” – COO Alliance
- Tell Two Others
Tell two to three people that you are going to do something and by when. Be very specific about the date and what the outcome will be. The pressure of other people knowing you need to do something and the embarrassment you’ll feel if you don’t get it done can really help you to focus.
- Turn Off Your Notifications
Turn off the notifications on all your devices. The last thing you want if you’re focused on a task is something breaking that focus and dragging your attention to it. You don’t need these distractions when you’re trying to be productive. Just like your email, you can worry about them later.
- Write Them Down
The saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” applies to the tasks of a COO, too. If you want to focus on things and get them done. Put your weekly and daily tasks on a whiteboard, a to-do list, or even a Post-It note stuck to your monitor. Seeing your key projects in front of you all day will force you to focus on them.
Focus is vital in every job, especially that of a COO. Knowing tips such as this can really help you to find strategies to stay focused. Learning these strategies is definitely worth the time.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.