We’re back again to expand our discussion on January’s theme of the month: ORGANIZATION. In our first round topic we discussed three key METHODS OF ORGANIZATION: INTENTION + RITUAL + ACCOUNTABILITY.
THIS week we want to talk about two more VERY important aspects of getting and staying organized which are WISDOM and FOCUS, and how accessing and utilizing these traits have allowed us to feel more prepared, confident, and READY to maximize productivity. Learning how to recognize, organize, harness and utilize these monumentally useful qualities, have helped shape and strengthen our business, life and organizational strategies; and ultimately, it has richly increased our value to our clients. We hope this will inspire a deeper understand of not only their significance, but their demand.
As we humans grow, experience life, learn, and become more independent, habits form and they become embedded into our character; thus [in their entirety], becoming, well, US; all the great, the not so great, and the unfortunate ugly. At times, the “US” in us often battles the thing we wish to become. Reprogramming can often be the hardest part of running a business, and it can also yield the grandest results once the reprogramming has occurred.
So today, we want to share with you a few insights and techniques on HOW we have optimized and reprogrammed our techniques; how we utilize these tools to grow our business, hit our deadlines, build strong teams through them; and how we keep stress levels low and joy high. For any entrepreneurs, moms and dads, designers, colleagues, and/or students reading this, we hope sharing our insights will inspire expanded discussions within yourselves, and with others, to see how you can enhance and strengthen your focus and channel your wisdom to achieve greatness!
So…Here we go.
No. 1 | F O C U S
As a single, over-achieving mom of three (for thirteen years from 1992-2005) who all suffer from some form of Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder (ADHD), let me start by saying that I have first-hand experience in the many challenges that are assigned to a life without focus; and I have further learned, that you can’t reach your goals if you aren’t willing to take the time to create and embrace a winning personal strategy for yourself, your team, and your family. In response to this great creative blessing that is ADD, I have come to develop and sharpen many proven FOCUS techniques which continue to bring great value, depth, empathy, discipline, and a one-of-a-kind richness to our company operations, and to all the design, build, and project management services we provide our clients; but more on “tapping wisdom” later. Here are a few key insights…
FINDING FOCUS: HABIT-FORMING RITUALS
Learning to commit to the discipline that is required to create a new habit is key. As we all know, creating any new habit is always toughest at the beginning, but there are many new apps, tools and techniques available today that are great for creating and maintaining structure and thus, as a result, focus.
Finding your “best method” may take a few tries. It has been said that you can create a new habit in 21 days, but the reality is, that it can take anywhere from two to eight months to re-program a behavior. One thing is clear, consistency, patience and discipline are required. All pretty tall orders for someone living with focus issues, but it CAN be done.
4PT FOCUS TIP 01: KNOW THYSELF. One of the biggest reality checks came when a phone app calculated and charted my phone activity time. I remember looking at the chart and thinking, “Naaaaaahhhhh, NO WAY did I spend that many hours on word-scapes”. I’m laughing now, but wow, it was a wake up call. I urge you to be brave and take a good-hard-look at how you are truly spending your time. I admit, I do enjoy a few brainless calming word puzzle moments to break up the chaos in a day. However, [thanks to the 20 minute rule and my iPhone “timer”] now, I put it on my schedule as sheer joy, no guilt, free-activity reward time and I find that it is plenty of time to enjoy it, regroup, and my day is a thousand times more productive.
This further proves that WISDOM has great value when determining your schedule for longevity, thus creating boundaries for FOCUS to operate at its optimum. Focus is a by-product of structure. It’s not the other way around.
4PT FOCUS TIP 02: PREVENT RUSHING. In an environment where hard DEADLINES are the norm and expectations run very high, there can be an overwhelming sense of rushing. Rushing CAN be avoided with good planning. Rushing will only enhance the anxiety you already feel to complete work on time, and work will be produced that isn’t as polished or refined as it should be. However, especially to those ADD creatives like me, there seems to be an overwhelming acceptance and romance around the creating of chaos [as a result of procrastination] that seems to “wake up” the brain. Been there. Done that. However, (and this is a HUGE however), when running a business, it does not work. Period. I HAD to learn and adopt new techniques in order to create a company who’s brand is synonymous with reliability and quality. One solution? Set realistic goals that take into account your BEST process and practice (here’s WISDOM again), and your goals, objectives and schedule MUST include rest, review, self-care, and then add 20% to your timeline for what life brings to the table. A well rested leader with appropriate time planned for each task that includes restoration and balance…WILL, in fact, promote FOCUS.
4PT FOCUS TIP 03: PLANNERS, APPS, AND THE 20-MINUTE RULE. Nothing has helped me be more focused and productive than accepting that, for me, a “paper and pencil check-box practice” is my personal BEST process. AND I admit, I LOVE MY PHONE calendar and Google Docs, especially as my entire team can share the same calendar and updates in real time. BUT, for me, I love my rituals, check lists, and now I LOVE my “timer”. I can’t tell you how much I have grown to depend on this tool.
THE 20-MINUTE “FOCUS” RULE.
It’s pretty basic and data backs it up. The belief is that anyone can do anything for 20 minutes. If done consistently for 30-days the brain’s neural infrastructure (how the brain cells talk to each other) adapts and begins to actively seek engagement with the new habit format, thus reducing brain-work and stress, making it easier to complete tasks. It goes like this…
- Clearly define any new task you wish to complete or any new habit you with to adopt.
- Devote a full 20 minutes a day to it.
- Take a quick break at the 20-minute completion point and breathe.
- Do this for 30 days consistently or until the task is completed.
I set my timer in manageable segments that align with realistic goals. I will even break down the 20-minute chunks into 10-minute segments which break up a larger goals into hyper-focused bite-sized segments and do NOTHING ELSE but that one thing I have assigned to that specific time segment. It’s unbelievable how valuable this tool has become to the team. It also is aligned with my timesheet app so that our billing has almost doubled! Can I get an AMEN!
Now I know what some of you may be thinking… Yeah, right, but it’s just not THAT easy! And boy, I get that.
And you’re right, it’s not always as simple as separating yourself from the outside world to get things done; especially, creatively. At times it can feel impossible to stop thinking about all of the things you need to accomplish and when that happens, our best solution is to separate yourself from the emotion altogether; create clear boundaries and a quiet workspace; create a positive workflow by identifying your personal best process; and set that darn timer! If you really can’t seem to get your creative juices flowing and feel stopped in your tracks, it might be best to take a break and come back to it later. I take a 5-10 minute brisk brain-walk and recharge. This typically gets things moving again.
When working in the design world, attention to detail is EVERYTHING. It’s the smallest features that bring a space together and make it feel cohesive and unique. Each project has it’s own personality with it’s own ecosystem of clients, designs, architecture, administration and management, making it essential to be able to focus when needed. When a client hires us, they expect a professional, efficient, orderly system to take care of all of the details. If we can’t get organized in our own office how can they expect us to create a smooth-running project process and ultimately, an environment for them to live and work in.
So, identify your personal best process, means and methods, maintain consistency and structure, and create tools of accountability; and rest assured, you WILL get everything done and have plenty of time to celebrate your victories.
No. 2 | W I S D O M
There is a visceral and visible grace and natural organization that comes with WISDOM. It can be felt and seen. THIS WISDOM is our VALUE.
Knowing which colors compliment each other, knowing which shapes and proportions will elevate a space, knowing which materials and space plans will create wellness and joy, is a result of many years of education and experience. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to gaining the beautiful knowledge that comes from experiencing mistakes and solutions that come from getting your feet and hands dirty. There will be no tips or tricks anyone can tell you to truly prepare you for risk-free life as an entrepreneur, mom or dad, or business owner. What I CAN tell you from being in a business based on human interaction for over 30 years is that people relate to EXPERIENCE and they gravitate towards a business that they can TRUST. No book can truly prepare you like experience can. Accessing and harnessing the wisdom that comes from experience will ultimately support how you organize, manage and accomplish your day to day tasks. Wisdom and organization go hand-in-hand. Wisdom is the fuel and grace that supports keen management, projected anticipation and prevention, and productivity.
We hope our January Theme has inspired you to seek your own best practices to organize your business, your home, your family; embrace your wisdom (it is your richest resource); design your rituals; set bold intentions; and create healthy focus techniques to achieve greatness! CHEERS to ORGANIZATION!
Next Month’s THEME: RELATIONSHIPS
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Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next time!