The word focus, like many words, has several meanings.  The “focus” of this blog post is on identifying what we pay particular attention to – and what we spend time on, that is what we focus on.  I enjoy the definition of focus from the point of view of a cognitive process as “selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things” (Wikipedia) because this is exactly what I am trying to do in a work environment – staying on point and filtering out all the noise of what is not important but that may be coming across as urgent.


This was presented by a wise leader at a strategic get away:

First things first

Other things second

Cut out unimportant

Unify behind vision

Stick with it

It is from a book by Scott Wilson called Steering Through Chaos: Mapping a Clear Direction for Your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change.


Another useful tool to use for focusing comes from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People where he breaks down tasks into four quadrants:


  Urgent Not Urgent
Important Urgent and Important

Immediate and Important Deadlines.

Do it Now

Not Urgent and Important.

Long term strategies and development

Decide when to do it

Not Important Urgent and Not Important

Time pressured distractions.

Delegate it

Not Urgent and Not Important.


Dump it


Don’t be so caught up in what is urgent and important that you forget your long term development – it is better to ensure that when you schedule time to attend to the important but not urgent that you stick to it – this is where you self-development and long term goal fulfillment fits in.

Imagine how much more productive we can be if we delegate or dump the not important.  As Stephen Covey says “Time management’ is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.  The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”.  So:  Stick with it, unify behind the vision, and cut out the unimportant, do other things second and first things first.  First things being what is urgent and important and what is not urgent and important.   And the really important “first things” is actually the important and not urgent – working on the future before it gets urgent.