My Physics teacher will probably kill me for the title of this article. What’s your BHAG? The Big, Hairy audacious goal. The one that scares you a little when you think about it. I’m sure you had one for the year. That’s why you are here. The year is almost over. Are you likely to get it achieved before the year ends? Many people come up with a great BHAG but struggle to commit to the work needed to achieve them. Does that sound like you?
BHAGS need not be impossible. You can make great progress on them if you are willing to commit to making a small change in your daily schedule. Suppose you had a task to do and you estimate that task would take an hour to complete. You could get that task done in small chunks of 15 minutes punctuated by breaks (the pomodoro technique) or you could sit down and focus on it for one hour (deep focus). Chances are if you blocked out an hour and focused on that task alone without interruptions, you might even finish the task before the hour ends.
That is the power of deep focus. Deep focus is what happens when you choose to block out an hour during which you are unreachable on your phone, you ignore all distractions and don’t try to sneak in a 15 minute (or is that one hour) facebook break. During deep focus, you pick a task, normally one that is tied to your BHAG and focus on completing that task within an hour.
Does it sound familiar? It’s how athletes train for the Olympics. Every serious athlete has a number of hours they practice everyday. During those hours, they go through their routine. They don’t answer the phone or have conversations during those hours. They just practice. It may be just an hour or two today but those hours of deep focus done consistently everyday quickly add up to thousands of hours in practice by the end of the year. By that time, you would have seen a lot of progress. Deep focus is what separates award winning musicians from the average musicians. Those who block time to practice and only practice move up the ranks in the music world over time.
In a world where we are being bombarded with information across multiple devices, (As I was writing this article, a colleague’s phone beeped six times) it can be difficult to disconnect from everything long enough to focus on any task no matter how important that task is. If you want to make progress on your BHAGs, however, deep focus is necessary. Most of the articles you read on this blog were made possible by deep focus. In the middle of a “busy schedule”, I made the commitment to block out an hour on a particular morning to write the first draft of this article, another hour to edit that draft and another hour to schedule it on this blog. It doesn’t happen by accident.
What is that important goal you want to achieve? What is the next task you need to do to achieve it? Have you blocked out time to get that task done? If you do, I can guarantee the chances of achieving that goal drastically increase.