Many readers will identify with a corporate environment where the day is filled with conflicting priorities, too many meetings, an enormous burden of e-mail traffic and working long hours.

WHAT IF there were a few small changes or habits that an executive could adopt to increase his/her effectiveness, dramatically increase productivity and reduce stress.

As an amateur photographer, I made a few simple discoveries that I keep in mind as I approach my work to keep me focused. Let me explain!

In photography, the “Point of Focus” refers to the object in a photograph at which the photographer wants to draw the most attention. Getting a quality object into the “point of focus” is sometimes luck. More often it is a result of following a process.

Photography is a “fun, enjoyable experience that challenges me”. The more I learn, the more I want to stretch myself further and get better by working on my skills. Without this, I would probably find a different hobby.

When I take photographs, I like to plan. I typically target “specific locations and subjects”. This requires “removing distractions” to ensure that I am in the right place at the right time. There are some important habits. For example:

  • Before I go to bed, I Will charge the battery in my camera (& be prepared)
  • If I am getting up early in the morning, pre-sunrise (very common), I will make sure that: After I get up, I Will not switch on my cell phone or computer (thus, avoid losing focus)

Once I am focused on my target subject, something interesting happens. My brain starts to “see other connections and opportunities” and the creative juices begin to flow. This can open the door to other photo opportunities beyond the planned subject matter.

The photograph above was taken in August as I was shooting scenery photographs on the Ring of Kerry, in Ireland. Out of nowhere, a beautiful Peacock Butterfly landed on some wild flowers in front of me. The outcome for me was the most interesting shot of the day.

As I reflect on my photography experience, a few BUSINESS INSIGHTS come to mind. The 4 INSIGHTS below help me as I enhance my own productivity and help my clients as a financial and manufacturing consultant and executive coach.

Insight #1: FOCUS on What You Enjoy Doing

There are only so many hours in the day and you might as well FOCUS most of them on what you enjoy doing. You will enjoy yourself and be more successful when you do tasks that align with your strengths, not your weaknesses. Saying YES to something you don’t want to do means you are saying NO to something you do want to do. This requires being honest with yourself and others about how best to serve your customer, your organization, your community and your career.

Also, be prepared to add dimensions to your job to make it more interesting or challenging. For example, take a leadership role on a project, get involved in an external activity to give you a broader business perspective, get involved in college recruiting, or whatever works for you. For me, I enhanced my financial position by coaching people at all levels and instructing corporate leadership programs.

Insight #2: Narrow Your Focus for the Day

Of course, this starts with the big picture. What long-term goals come into play for you and your organization? How do these translate into monthly and weekly plans? Ultimately they must translate into daily activities and tasks. To narrow your focus, pick one or two important, value adding tasks that MUST BE ACCOMPLISHED TODAY for the “day” to be considered successful. FOCUS on these first. When you are done, you feel great and you will be energized to work on or eliminate lower priorities items. Also, be prepared to delegate other tasks, as appropriate, to people in your network or organization.

One great validation is to ask yourself at the end of the day about what you accomplished today. If you missed on an important priority, you will know and it will not go away. It will come back tomorrow, the day after and even into the weekend.

Insight #3: Remove Distractions

Build some positive habits that put you in the right mindset for the day.

Bad Habit: reaching for the cell phone and checking e-mail, LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other forms of social media the minute you wake up or early in the day. Welcome to DISRUPTION. Welcome to OTHER PEOPLE’S PRIORITIES.

Good Habit: Giving yourself space early in the day to think, reflect, plan, prioritize, even learn. For example:

  • After I Get Up, I Will Exercise
  • After I Exercise, I Will Reflect and Plan my day
  • After I Reflect and Plan, I Will Read something inspirational.

These are easy to repeat and don’t require a lot of motivation. What habits would work for you and what triggers could you use? How could you start out the day on the right footing and not disrupt your FOCUS? Check out the TED-X from BJ Fogg for some outstanding insights on leveraging “tiny habits” to bring about big change in your life.

Insight #4: Getting to Your Point of Focus

By applying the learnings in Insights #1, #2, #3 you put yourself in position to find your “Point of Focus”. It is amazing what happens when you do what you enjoy, align with your strengths, narrow your focus and remove distractions. Now you can see the other connections and opportunities and you will start to contribute at a higher level and realize your goals.

What other learning would you add to those shared above? I would be interested in your thoughts and comments?

I help organizations, especially manufacturing organizations, increase their productivity, by optimizing financial and leadership processes, and improving financial and leadership literacy. I also coach executives in manufacturing and corporate settings to improve their effectiveness and advance their careers. Contact me at for a free assessment/consultation.