The Importance of Building Your Day Around FOCUS Blocks
Oct 08, 2019
Have you ever started the week with good intentions about a particular goal or action item, but when you got to the end of the week it was still undone?
We’ve all been there. But we don’t need to be again. We can fix this broken system by building our days around FOCUS blocks.
What Are FOCUS Blocks?
Simply put, it’s a block of time, built into your calendar, and devoted to an action-oriented, goal-specific activity. Meaning, it’s time set aside to intentionally work on your goals. The point of a focus block is that it is strategic in nature, and gets treated with the same priority as a doctor appointment or a client meeting.
Think of it as making an appointment with yourself to take daily, intentional action toward the achievement of your goals.
The Importance of FOCUS
Many people think they’re focused, but still get lost along the way - often because they forget what being focused is really about.
It’s not about staying “busy” or diligently working on a task or activity that doesn’t support larger goals.
Rather, it’s about being crystal clear about your goals, and then maintaining FOCUS to achieve those goals:
When your crystal-clear goals are set as the “one course” you’re focused on, daily “FOCUS blocks” become the stepping stones that get you there.
How to Set-Up & Systemize Daily FOCUS Blocks
Firstly, keep in mind that 3 is a magic number
. The research has shown that setting more three priorities each day will result in lower performance AND cognitive depletion. In other words, you’ll have less brainpower.
So, limit each day to three FOCUS blocks.
In addition, since the tasks you work on during these focus blocks should be your most important, goal-oriented action items, make sure to schedule them when you’re cognitively at your best, which for most of us is earlier in our day.
(Notice I said, our day, and not the day. That’s because not everyone is an early bird. Here's an article about The 5am Myth, if you’re curious. It’ll also walk you through how to uncover your most productive hours.)
How Long Should FOCUS Blocks Be?
Think about FOCUS blocks like muscles. When you first start using them, they may tire easily. And that’s ok, it’s normal. But with consistent training, your muscles get stronger and stronger, and you can train for longer and longer.
In the beginning, your focus blocks may be limited to 30 or 45 minutes… which is actually a long time. Think about it - when was the last time you went 30 minutes straight, working on a single activity, without allowing yourself to get distracted?
What makes FOCUS blocks so powerful is that they are distraction-free. No social media notifications, no phone calls, no falling down the Google rabbit hole. Just deliberate, focused time spent working on your biggest goals.
For most of us, it doesn’t happen as often as it could or should. But why is this so?
Why Are We So Easily Distracted?
, who is the world’s leading researcher on the subject of flow, found that when people do not have clear goals, they open themselves up to distraction.
But on the other side of that equation, when goals are crystal clear and meaningful, the natural result is a level of complete involvement. It’s that place when you’re in the zone, experiencing a state of flow, and time seems to fall to the wayside because you’re so fully immersed in the task at hand.
(As a quick side note, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a phenomenal book called, FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, so if you’ve ever wanted take a deep dive into human consciousness and learn how it is that we humans can control our various states of consciousness, then you might find this to be an interesting read. Like I said, it is a really deep dive, but it’s also super fascinating.)
FOCUS Block Recap
- No more than three FOCUS blocks each day.
- The activities we work on during our FOCUS blocks are intentionally goal-specific.
- They’re scheduled during a time of day when we are cognitively at our best.
- They have a reasonable time frame allocated.
If you find yourself struggling to stay on task during your FOCUS blocks, then remember what the research revealed… if our goals are not crystal clear, it’s an invitation for distraction! So, it may help to look at your goals - both the overarching goal that you’re working towards and your individual goals for the day - and make sure you’ve got complete clarity.
Obviously there may be days when working your day around FOCUS blocks simply isn’t possible - especially if you’re traveling or have a big event taking place - BUT, if you can hold yourself accountable to this approach on more days than not, you’ll make consistent progress in the direction of your goals, and the results just may astound you.
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