get focused faucetYesterday morning – a very busy morning — I noticed that our bathroom sink was leaking in a significantly distressing way. The day was packed with work commitments so I couldn’t get to it right away.  (Never leave a leaky faucet operational and unattended.  Turn off the water at the source. Trust me on this.)

I’m pretty handy so when evening came I tried a few things but wasn’t able to fix it. My husband tried, too.  Nothing.

This morning I called my trusty plumber who said a guy could get here in four days (there’s a weekend in there) but would also call me if something opened up tomorrow, but no chance of today. About 90 minutes later I got a call saying there was a cancellation and the plumber could be here in an hour.

An hour! Great! Except that the bathroom looked like a tornado hit it since so much had been pulled out from the cabinet. And some cleaning needed to be done. Fast.

You see, I believe that when you have someone work on your house or your car, they’ll take about as much care of your house or your car as it appears you do. If your car is really dirty and filled with trash, the mechanic may just figure you’ll never notice a little extra dirt and oil on the car mats.

So I dropped what I was doing and set to work. With a laser-like focus I cleared out the bathroom so he’d have room to work without tripping over bottles of glamour sauce and manly-man grooming aids and cleaned faster than I ever do.

This is how you get focused fast.

Have a defined deadline that involves someone else with whom you want to leave a good impression. I had one hour to make certain the plumber (whom I know a bit) didn’t get the impression we live like slobs.

If you’ve been putting off a task because it’s important but not urgent, here is a two-step process to get focused fast:

  1. Set a clear, defined deadline. I understand that not everything is urgently time sensitive like this appointment which is exactly the problem. You have to act like it IS urgently time sensitive. Create a deadline as if getting this thing done really matters, because it does. It’s the important but not urgent work that really builds a business. Make the deadline ambitious. To light a fire under yourself time has to be limited.
  2. If no one else expecting to see this work, (which is usually just the kind of stuff that gets put off) involve someone else in your commitment anyway. Someone you would prefer not think of you as a slacking procrastinator. It’s fine to tell the person what you’re doing. “I’ve been putting off this task but now I’m committing to get it done by (enter date and time here) and I will follow up with you to let you know it’s complete.”

A colleague and I used to dread developing proposals so we’d follow this very process. (Since then I changed my business model so I don’t have to write them very often.)

In these tech-heavy, social-media-saturated, information-overloaded, responsibility-laden times, getting distracted is a given. Being able to get focused isn’t an option, it’s mandatory. Use any trick in your arsenal to make sure you can get focused when you need to in order to accomplish what you need to make happen.