by Megan Howard
Every time you step into a leadership role, your job becomes a little more complex. Suddenly, there are more facets of work to consider, and approaching them from a leadership angle is a real game-changer.
New leaders and veterans alike can find themselves spread too thin. This often leads to a lack of focus and even workplace burnout. It would be perfect if there was a single trick to honing in focus — especially at work. Of course, such magical solutions don’t exactly exist in the real world.
However, steps to become a more focused leader can be surprisingly simple.
Simple Step #1 to being a more focused leader: Learn When to Delegate
…..And learn when not to delegate tasks.
It can be difficult to know what tasks you should handle yourself and which ones you can safely pass off to other members of the team. You can’t, of course, expect to do it all yourself. On the other hand, some things are safest in your hands. This is where risk analysis can come in handy. Projects or tasks that come with a low probability of failure, as well as low impact in the event of failure, are an example of something you should consider delegating.
These low-impact projects should be in safe hands with other coworkers or even a team of them. Depending on the level of the employee, you can even consider delegating moderate risk and moderate impact tasks. This is not only an opportunity for you to focus on more important things, but it also gives others a chance to gain trust and experience.
High impact projects with a moderate to high risk are things you’ll understandably want to oversee yourself. Handing something important off to an under-qualified individual is unfair to them, the company, and to you. When everyone is working on things appropriate to their rank and experience, it allows focus and concentration to flourish.
Simple Step #2 to being a more focused leader: De-stress Early and Often
Sometimes, dialling down the stress level is easier said than done — especially when schedules are full. It can be a challenge to give yourself permission to take time for self-care. Waking up an hour before your morning commute to attend a yoga class sounds great on paper, but it’s not always a realistic option. Instead, try starting with small changes — both at home and at work — that will decrease stress.
De-stressing at home starts with healthy boundaries. Bringing work home from time to time might be acceptable, but having it as a permanent thing isn’t sustainable. If you don’t have time for your favorite relaxing activities, stress will inevitably reach a boiling point. Avoid making it a habit to bring work home with you. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your time off, either. As a leader, you’ll be doing everyone a favor if you don’t put your team in a similarly uncomfortable position.
Burnout will come at the speed of a bullet train if you and your team have little to no breaks — and what messes with focus worse than burnout?Don’t forget to take appropriate breaks and be sure your team does the same. Hungry stomachs, full bladders, and stiff backs will interfere with focus and increase stress. Don’t take things too seriously all the time, either. Of course, there are times when you have to put your business face on, but leave room for fun and happiness in the work environment.
Try things like friendly competitions, pot lucks, and humor bulletin boards to break up the intensity of long workdays. Even a well-styled, decorated space can go a long way in creating a laid-back work environment. When there is an overall light and relaxed feel in the workplace, you’ll find it easier to focus on important things and not the things that are stressing you out.
Simple Step #3 to being a more focused leader: Start With the Right Space & and Headspace
It might not seem like such a big deal, but your workspace can have a big impact on your focus. Ask yourself some questions if you’re struggling with focus:
- Do I have enough physical space to work?
- Am I well organized?
- Am I comfortable with my workstation?
Small tweaks made to your workspace can go far in increasing focus, but don’t feel guilty if you think you need a significant change. It’s perfectly acceptable to expect things like a comfortable chair, enough room to effectively organize, and a reliable PC. If your work involves a lot of sitting, providing yourself and your team with things like ergonomic chairs and standing desks are a great way to avoid physical discomfort. While some breaks are necessary, getting up for a stretch or a walk a dozen times a day doesn’t exactly lend to a focused environment.
If you do a lot of standing, comfy shoes are a must. Regardless of whether you sit or stand at work, comfortable clothes that don’t keep you too hot or too cold are equally essential. If you spend a lot of time before a screen, look into glasses that block blue light. Eye strain can make it quite uncomfortable or impossible to sit at your PC after too long.
Don’t forget that the right headspace is a vital component to focus and productivity. Distractions aren’t always physical — loud sounds, talkative coworkers, and our personal devices can throw a wrench in focus. If your workspace has a door or blinds, don’t feel bad about using them when you really need to. Set your IM system to “do not disturb” if you can’t afford any interruptions. And put that smartphone on silent in your drawer until it’s time for a break.
Hocus, Pocus, Focus
It’s not as fun or easy as waving a wand and saying a spell to give yourself extra focus. It is, however, not as tedious as it might seem to make small changes that provide a substantial payoff to your concentration. The best part is that changes at work that make you a focused leader have a similarly positive impact on the entire team.