How to improve your focus

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

You’ve heard many bloggers talk about how you should ‘focus’ on a few key projects. Trouble is, not everyone intuitively knows exactly how to turn that ‘focus’ knob up to 100%, and even if you know how to do that, what do you focus on?

The two keys to having a clear focus in your blogging are ‘priorities’ and ‘concentration’. If you have priorities but no concentration (like me), you’ll know what to do but never get anything done because you’ll get distracted all the time. On the other hand, if you have concentration but no clear grasp of your priorities, you will be excellent in something but won’t make much progress (because you’ll be focusing on the wrong things).

It’s clear then that we need a strategy for focusing our time and energy. I would recommend using the following model:

Focus 70% on Strengths

Take stock of your strengths as an entrepreneur and blogger (make sure you ask your friends and co-workers for input as well). Are you good at monetizing your blogs? Do you have a knack for creating social bait (linkbait)? Are you a good designer?

The first step is knowing what you’re good at. The second step is to ensure that a major portion of your working time is spent focusing on these activities – this is what you’re good at, so make sure you profit the most from it.

As a personal example – I gave up on trying to design my own themes or code my own software a long time ago. I had to choose between blogging and designing, and with writing being my strength, I chose to blog and outsource my designing / programming chores. You don’t have to become a specialist, but even as a ‘jack of all trades’, it makes sense to spend most of your time doing what you’re good at.

If there’s a situation where you have two equal strengths but you have to choose between them (management and writing, for example), you should always choose the one that is best aligned with your priorities. If your goal is to have fun, hire someone to manage and stick to the writing. If you want to make money and grow, then shift to management and hire a good writer. Put yourself where you can serve your own priorities the best.

Focus 25% on New Things

Yesterday we talked about taking risks and expanding your horizons by doing new things and moving out of the blogging comfort zone. The need to constantly take risks and learn new things can be explained in very simple terms:

Growth = Change.

If you want to get better, you have to keep changing and improving. This means taking risks and stepping out into new areas. This is also your chance to be the generalist and channel your creative efforts by taking out focused time for side projects that help you build new skills and expand your knowledge. If you’re the kind who likes to play it safe, this time is crucial for you – it will help you push forward and grow past your current limits.

If you dedicate time to new things that are closely related to your strengths, you’ll find yourself becoming a far better blogger and entrepreneur than you were before. For example, if you love writing but are average at writing link bait, it would pay if you focused 25% of your time on learning how to write great headlines and crack social bait.

In the online world where change is the only constant, you cannot afford to ‘rest’ on what you’ve learned and achieved as a blogger. In simple terms – grow (evolve) or fail (die).

Focus 5% on Areas of Weakness

You can’t get up one day and just avoid dealing with your weaknesses. The key is to minimize it as much as you can and delegate (tell / ask someone else to do it for you) or outsource (pay someone to do it) it whenever possible. I wouldn’t suggest avoiding areas that are closely related to your strengths or avoiding something that is a necessary component to your life goals, but when it comes to everything else, figure out a way to have someone else work on it.

3 Steps To Improve Your Focus

  1. Shift to Strengths: Make a list of three to four things you do well as a blogger. What percentage of your time do you spend doing them? What percentage of your resources is dedicated to these areas of strength? Devise a plan to make changes, allowing you to dedicate 70 percent of your time to your strengths.

    Staff your Weaknesses: Identify three or four activities necessary for your blog’s managment that you don’t do well. Determine how you can delegate the jobs to others. Will it require hiring / outsourcing? Can you partner with another blogger to share responsibilities? Develop a plan.

    Create an Edge: Now that you’ve looked at priorities, think about concentration. What would it take for you to go to the next level in your main area of strength (be it link baiting, design or programming)? What new tools do you need? Rethink how you do things, and be willing to make sacrifices. Time and money spent to take you to the next level are the best investment you can make of your resources as a blogger.

This article was originally written on 26 Sep 2007 for Performancing.com.

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