Nov 17, 2020

Focus

Part 1: Prioritization

Written by Jesse LaDousa, Chief Operating Officer

For many reasons, this year has been challenging. It’s required us all to rethink how we approach daily activities like work and school. For most of our lives, these have been a stable constant that we spend little time thinking about. My two daughters have been attending school in a hybrid fashion (three days at home, two days at school) up until last week when, due to the staggering increase of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, the school district made the decision to go full distanced-learning for at least the remainder of 2020. While not surprising, already strapped parents are now taking on some extra responsibility to ensure their kids are well positioned to be successful in a schooling model that none of us have experience with.

As my wife and I talked about this with our two children, we found ourselves coming back to two concepts over and over: Focus & Prioritization. Many of us that were lucky enough to have the option of working from home prior to this year have become accustomed these two concepts – spending little time thinking about them. But as others transition to home-based work (and school), these two critical concepts can make or break the success of working remotely.

Our homes are filled with distractions, even more so when we’re all at home together. This can be detrimental to productivity. Some are lucky and have dedicated office spaces with doors that can close to minimize distraction. Many are working at kitchen counters, dining room tables, or on living room couches; and now that the weather in Minnesota has turned, the outdoors are not as viable of an option anymore.

Each of us has a list of things that need to get done each day and each week. Prioritization becomes even more of a key element in our current situation. Without prioritization, focus is elusive, and distractions will take over.

I’ve always been one that creates and works from prioritized lists. From daily work tasks to grocery store lists, they help me lay out the work, identify the dependencies, prioritize the most important things, and stay focused on accomplishing them. We use this approach in our team’s projects as well, ensuring we are always focused on the highest business value feature for our clients. This is a key tenant to the success that Clientek has achieved with hundreds of customers over our almost three decades of work. Why not translate this to your personal situation as well?

We’ve adopted a pattern of using Sunday night post-dinner to look at the upcoming week for each of our family members. We identify times that require focus (important work meetings, work time, school activities, etc.) and then look at dependencies (kids need to be on a school Google Meet at 8:30 AM each day, I have an important presentation to give Wednesday at 2:00 PM, etc.). We use these inputs to build an overall schedule for the week, helping each family member know when other’s focus is needed. It’s not perfect, and disruptions still occur, but it’s a great starting point!

What have you been doing to prioritize?


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