3 Ways to Focus on Your Objective

Focus on the Bullseye

When you’re striving to be productive, you probably have a method or means of getting things done. You’ve laid out all the steps, written out your benchmarks, and plotted the due dates for each piece of your project.

Planning things out like that can be a huge help in accomplishing your goals, but it’s important to keep your end-goal in mind while you’re going through the steps you’ve laid out for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and forget the big picture, and when you do that you run the risk of taking less productive paths to get to your final goal. When you’re aiming to get things done, it’s important to focus more on your objective than your method.

Determine Non-Negotiables

When you embark on the project, you need to determine the non-negotiable objectives of the project. Which deadlines can’t change and which can handle some blurring if your work demands it?

Finding your non-negotiables can be as easy as defining why you’re working on the project in the first place. The first place I was told to focus on my objective over my method was in lifeguarding class—it was more important to keep someone’s airway clear of the water than to get your lifeguarding tube in the right place (which was a good thing, because the tube was as tall as I was so I had a hard time using it in the water). Remembering that my purpose in the water was to keep people alive determined my non-negotiable: air is necessary for life, thus keeping the airway above the water trumped any other requirement I might come up with. If I couldn’t maneuver the tube and keep the victim’s airway out of the water, the tube needed to go.

If you’re designing an ad for a Black Friday sale, then you need to have a final draft to press in time for it to reach your customer before Black Friday. It’s that simple. If other things make that objective impossible or unlikely, they need to go.

Reevaluate Mid-Project

Once you’ve defined your non-negotiables, you’ve arrived at your criteria for evaluating your method. These criteria are vital in the evaluation process. I’ve talked a lot about checking up on yourself and tracking your progress, and each time I’ve emphasized the importance of knowing your goals and objectives in the process.

If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, reevaluating could lead you to find a new method that you try out and follow because it is new and shiny—it may not do anything to help you. If you have criteria defined by your non-negotiable objectives and goals, you have a standard to compare against. Is your plan for completing market research going according to schedule, or are you going to get the information back too late to accomplish your goals? If it’s going to put you off schedule, you’ve found a problem with your planning.

Reinvent Your Method

If you identify problem areas when you reevaluate your work in the middle of a project, you need to find a new way to accomplish your goals. Your new method could be as easy as dropping some of the milestones you haven’t determined to be non-negotiable; other times it could mean developing a shortcut, like getting the market research for your ad from a company that has already done some recently. The degree to which you need to reinvent your method will vary widely from project to project, but one thing you always need to remember is to not be afraid of thinking outside the box. Sometimes run-of-the-mill solutions will work just fine (there’s a reason they get used so often), but sometimes—especially in dire emergency circumstances—you’re going to need more creativity. So practice keeping your mind open to out-of-the-box opportunities and you’ll be able to see them when you need them.

Image by pakorn via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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