Admit it: You feel a bit of consternation each morning when you turn off the alarm and turn on your phone or fire up your computer.

You brace yourself as the emails download, filling your screen as though you hit “triple sevens” on a slot machine. In seconds, your day suddenly is booked full with everything from a meeting with the GM, a request from the green chair, an invoice from a supplier, a newsletter from your chapter, a cancellation from a contractor, and a reminder to pick up the kids from baseball practice.

All of that, on top of what you had planned to do before you logged on. It’s nothing at all like hitting the jackpot.

Keep your eye on the ball

Golf course superintendents, like other professionals, perform a multitude of tasks and interact with many people. It is easy to see how they can become distracted and moved off task by events, both planned and unplanned. This dynamic is not only frustrating, it is also an attack on efficiency and quality. So how do you keep your focus and reject the distraction?

In his newsletter, “Sunday Snippets,” Missouri Western State University business professor and consultant John Stevenson offers some excellent tips to help those who find they are prone to losing focus. I encourage you to try some of these techniques and share them with others:

  1. When you need to focus on planning, find an environment that helps you concentrate or stimulates critical thinking. Many times, that requires a change in your physical location or environment. Perhaps you should find a spot in the clubhouse, or at the coffee shop on the way to work. Maybe there is a shade tree far away from your office where you take your work cart and collect your thoughts.
  2. Prepare your mind and body. Put your mind at ease with meditation, prayer, music or some other activity that soothes the mind. It washes away anxiety and makes it easier to focus. Engage in regular exercise to keep your body strong and fit so you are not distracted by restlessness or fatigue.
  3. Make lists so you can organize and prioritize your tasks. It also keeps you from missing or forgetting an important or time-sensitive task.
  4. You need a strong and uncluttered mind so you can react and adapt quickly. Take some time to memorize prose, poetry or memorable quotes. This helps build a better vocabulary and fosters more deliberate, calm and articulate speech. Have you ever heard someone say a person “thinks on his feet”? It refers to people who are not caught off-guard because they have a quick and agile mind.
  5. When I start to feel overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of my work, I remember a quote I saw years ago on a page in my day planner: “Life by the Inch is a Cinch, but by the Yard is Hard.” With that in mind, break down your day and tasks into smaller increments rather than one large task. You will find that as you begin to complete tasks and “check off” items on your list, you create a sense of accomplishment and feel positive about what you’ve done.
  6. Test yourself with a work sprint for a defined time-period or specific task. Allow yourself an hour to work on a project, with a hard stop for a 5-minute break. When you know there’s a break or change in activity coming soon, you’re less likely to be distracted.

Everyone understands the value of focus, but that does not make it any easier to achieve. A distracted person is less efficient and a lack of focus will impact quality – or lead to disastrous consequences. Imagine what could occur if you’re distracted when filling a chemical tank, calibrating mowing height or operating heavy machinery.

Make focus the goal of your personal development today.