The Daily Focus Area is a simple habit that helps you focus better.
(This is Part 4 in a series about My Productivity System.)
A Daily Focus Area is an area of your business or job that you focus on for the majority of the day. It’s a great way to harness more focus for critical parts of your work.
I first started having a daily focus back in college where I would set aside one day of the week to study for each of my classes. For example, I would set aside Monday to study for Class X. I usually would have a 4-5 window of study time during the afternoon. I made it a priority to not study during the evenings or weekends. The scarcity of study time for Class X encouraged me to take that time seriously and to pack in my study efforts. I was incredibly productive.
Setting aside days or even parts of days for specific focus areas is a smart habit.
The Example of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs would set aside different days or parts of days for different focus areas. According to Isaacson’s biography, Monday morning Steve would meet with his top management team. Wednesday he would meeting with marketing team. Friday (before he sold Pixar) he would drive up to Pixar’s headquarters and spend the day working on Pixar. And Sunday evening (according to Walt Mossberg’s accounts) he would frequently set aside to call up his contacts in the press. (I’m not sure about the other days of his week, but I’d assume he had some day(s) set aside for product and meeting with Jony Ive… as well as other days or parts of the day for other aspects of the business.)
Daily Focus Areas are smart because they create a weekly habit to work on the most important aspects of your business. Eventually this bears great fruit as these important aspects get the attention they deserve.
Another reason the Daily Focus Area is a great idea is because it creates a sense of order and purpose to each day. Without a Daily Focus Area, you might have some unrelated daily desired outcomes or a list of tasks. But nothing brings your day together better than having a singular daily focus.
Focus Area vs Task
Some people advise on focusing on one task for the day, but I like the Daily Focus Area to be a general area or aspect of your work. As a startup founder, my main areas are Product (2 days), Distribution, Engagement, and Monetization. Under each of these areas, there are various tasks and projects I’m working on. But as long as I keep the Daily Focus Area in mind for each day of the week, I am confident that I’m not forgetting or ignoring regularly anything very important.
I don’t think the Daily Focus Area is for everyone because some people have jobs where everyday is the same kind of work. The Daily Focus Area works better for people who multi-faceted jobs. However, even if you’re working on the same thing every day, I still think it’s possible to set one day a week for a special focus. For example, if you’re coding Monday-Thursday the same project, you could set aside Friday to focus on a special aspect of the project like backend optimization. Let your team know that Friday’s you’re focusing on that aspect. You don’t need to spend the whole day doing just that, but having a daily focus can get you at least a few focused hours diving deeply into it.
A Weekly Habit
The Daily Focus Area is simply a weekly habit to focus on one aspect of your work each day. Try it out together with the Week Chart and my alternative system to productivity, and let me know how it goes.
Hint: If you’re using the Week Chart, try drafting 3 Desired Outcomes each day that are directly related with the Daily Focus Area.