Prefer to listen? Listen to Dermot’s audio recording below:
Have you ever noticed the strong connection between attention and traction? The things that are front of mind for us, that are most pressing, that are holding our attention, are the things that tend to get traction and progress. Every day we shift multiple pieces of work forward and may experience a sense of satisfaction from all this positive activity.
But what if we have a bias towards creating traction for other people’s priorities rather than our own? What if we are holding only some of the things in the front of our mind that deserve our time, energy and attention?
At Adapt, so much of what we teach in our productivity programs is about balance. And one of the critical ones we need to get right is the balance between the reactive and the proactive. I worry that we can sometimes fall into the trap of reacting to the work that other people demand of us, without balancing that up with the work that we should be demanding of ourselves to truly fulfil our role.
To this end we encourage participants to take time out each month to get clarity about their Top 10 priorities for the month ahead. We teach them how to go through an exercise to list and prioritise ten big-picture priorities they would like to get traction on over the coming month. The value of taking the time to do this piece of thinking is to gain clarity and focus, but also to create traction.
You see, when you get clear about the things that are most important to you, it brings them to the front of your mind. These proactive priorities join all the more pressing priorities that are sitting there. They don’t necessarily take over, but they sit side-by-side with them and therefore have more chance of being shifted forward.
I strongly believe what has my attention gets traction, so I try to make sure my priorities are visible and top of mind. Think about whether you have a habit of clarifying what is important to you over the coming month. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Make a list of the priorities, issues or opportunities that deserve your attention. Try to avoid listing just urgent things – imagine you could wave a magic wand and create a limitless amount of available time over the next month. What would you put your time, energy, and attention into if that were true? Maybe these things should be on your list.
What you achieve in life is a direct result of what you do, and what you pay attention to.