Some things are better spread thin.
Marmite comes to mind. Even those who love it (I stand bravely as one of those people) know a little goes a long way.
But focus is not one of those things. Focus is more like ice if we’re picking abstract comparisons. You can build some incredible things with it. You can even "walk on water" (or skate) if it's thick enough. But too thin, and you’re asking for trouble.
What happens when you spread your focus too thin.
Focus is a finite resource. You have as much as you have, and that’s it. There’s no way to create more. It’s like time in this way. There are 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much you wish there were more than 24, there will always be 24. How you use them is up to you.
You can make more money. You can learn new abilities. But focus is what it is.
Say you have five projects you want to tackle at the same time. Spread equally, each gets 20% of your focus. Is that enough to complete them successfully? If one needs 30%, another will get only 10%, or a couple of them might go down to 15%. Not everything you do needs 100% of your focus, but the thinner you spread it, the more likely you will fail to give each project the focus it requires.
And when things don’t get the focus they require, they cannot live up to expectations. By spreading your focus too thin and trying to accomplish too much, you limit the potential of what you actually can achieve.
How to avoid spreading your focus too thin.
This is easier than it seems:
Start with strategy.
Yup. That’s it. End of blog…
…alright, I’ll explain further.
When you start with strategy, you’re not just planning out tactical resources like time, money, abilities, etc. You’re also planning out psychological resources like focus. In fact, planning the rest of your resources becomes that much easier by starting with focus.
On a macro level, this means you’re identifying the things that deserve the majority of your focus as your higher priority items. Usually, they’re going to be the things that make the biggest positive impact on your business. You can then identify what you need to do to accomplish those goals.
If 50% of your focus is on your employment brand, for example, that means 50% of your resources (time, money, talent) needs to go towards reaching the goals related to your employment brand.
On a more micro, project level, if you have a project that will take 100% of your focus and is going to take a month under that condition, you know it’s the only thing you should try to accomplish that month. If there are other things you need to accomplish that month (and let’s be honest, we all have multiple things on the go at once), you know that your one-month project will take two or maybe three to do right.
Don’t do it all, do it all right.
By starting with strategy and then sticking to that strategy, you’re less likely to chase opportunities that might be appealing but will not, in the end, have a material impact on your business. Strategy keeps your focus where it should be and helps everyone work towards the same goals effectively.
Don’t try to do it all. You’ll spread your focus too thin.
Identify what’s most important.
Figure out what you can actually accomplish.
And then give it your full attention.
Your business will be better for it.