155: The Art of Knowing Where to Focus | Tanya Dalton
December 31, 2019   |   Episode #:

155: The Art of Knowing Where to Focus

In This Episode:

Knowing where to focus can be a huge barrier that, if faced successfully, can have a profound impact on our lives. Today I was joined by Taska, an entrepreneur who is facing a curveball in her personal life that has her feeling off track and unsure about where to focus so she can continue to grow her business. Recently, she’s stepped up as the personal caregiver to her mom facing health issues, which is causing her to feel out of touch with running her business. We talk about prioritizing tasks that will get you closer to your goals and honing in on the vital few rather than the trivial many. I share how to use themed days to focus on specific tasks and how the 80/20 rule can help you make a more significant impact.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Focus on fewer to make a bigger impact.

Questions I Answer

  • How can I stop feeling overwhelmed?
  • What’s the 80/20 rule?
  • How can I figure out where to focus?
  • Where should I spend my time?

Actions to Take

  • Start using the 80/20 rule to design your days. Tap into where to focus and start using that as a catalyst for where you’ll spend your time and attention to drive a greater impact.
  • Purchase your Goal Setting Planner so you can focus with awareness on how you spend your time, so you can lean into each of the areas of your life to not only set goals but to truly achieve them.

Key Topics in the Show

  • Supporting your work life when your personal life has thrown you a curveball

  • Prioritizing what you need to do to get closer to your goals

  • Designating themes to specific days to help drive yourself forward and focus

  • Using the 80/20 rule to help design your life

Show Transcript

Welcome to productivity paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on finding 

true happiness through productivity. Season 12 is different from any she’s done before with real conversations with real women, applying strategies and concepts explored in The Joy of Missing Out. 

This season, you’ll learn how to live more by doing less. And now here’s your host, Tanya Dalton. 

Tanya: 

Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, 

Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 155. Today, we’re talking about the art of knowing where to focus. I feel so often that when we talk about the resources that we have, of time, energy, and focus, time is the one that gets the most talked about. I don’t have enough time, or there isn’t enough time in the day, but our focus is so important in helping us really feel like we’re spending that time on what matters most, which of course, is the heart of our entire season, about the joy of missing out, right? 

So I like to tell people that, yes, I’m a productivity expert, but once you start listening, it’s about more than just productivity. It’s about living with intention, living a life that’s centered on your priorities, and that means focus. But here’s the question. How do you know what to focus on and how do you really allow for more focus when life happens? It does happen, doesn’t it? What if you’re in a position that is reactionary, where you’re a little bit at the mercy of other people? This is one of the things that I’m truly loving about this special call-in season that we’re doing, that’s so different than what we’ve done before, is I’m able to really talk to people who are in positions like this, that are maybe different than what I’m doing currently in my life, and to really apply a lot of these strategies that we talk about in the book, and you see this idea of knowing where to focus. 

That’s what I’m talking with Taska about today, and you’ll meet Taska here in just a few minutes, because I’ll let you listen in on our conversation, but you’ll see that Taska is a mom on a mission. Her mission is to help families connect together and to build in a love of nature, through her new business that she is just getting off the ground. She is incredibly passionate, and she loves what she’s doing, but life has thrown her a curve ball, a really, really big curve ball, and now, Taska is feeling a little unfocused and she’s feeling unsure about whether she can continue to grow her business, while she’s in this state of flux. We talk about this idea of flexibility, we talk about the fact that real life has to 

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happen. We can’t talk about these strategies and these techniques in a vacuum, pretending that the world is perfect. Life happens, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. 

Now, Taska and I talk about figuring out how she can really make the most of the time that she has, and how she can focus in to make the impact that she really wants. Now, full disclosure here, Taska and I are talking about this in terms of growing her business, but the strategies that we talk about apply to all aspects of our lives, no matter what we do for a living, and where we should focus and how to really allow time to dive into our deeper work, is something that every one of us needs to think about. I think it’s so important to really dive into that deep work, even when we don’t feel that we have a lot of time. So, I am thrilled for you to listen in on this conversation I have with Taska. I cannot wait for you to meet her. All right, here we go. 

Taska, I am thrilled to have you on the show today. 

Taska: 

I am super excited. I am a one-person business owner, and I am really only accountable to myself, and it’s been slow to get my product developed and then go to market, although, I’m incredibly confident I’m on the right path. I’ve worked on my North Star, and I’m feeling good about that. But in the last few weeks, unfortunately, my mom has become really ill, and it’s fallen to me to become her primary caregiver. 

Working for myself leads to a lot of freedoms that other people might not have, but my entire business, I’ve had to let go to some extent, and it’s been really derailed, and I don’t really know what to do to regain some momentum, and establish those good work habits that l’ve been having and have developed over this last year. So I’m wondering, how can I support my work life when my personal life is really throwing me a curve ball? 

Tanya: 

Yeah, that’s a huge curve ball. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, and I know this is obviously a really hard time for you, being the main caregiver for her, pouring yourself into her, while still trying to grow your business, and because you have made this decision that you’re going to grow the business, obviously, you want to make sure that’s still up and running. 

So, first of all, I’m really sorry about what’s going on with your moment, and it makes total sense. You’ve got to lean into that personal bucket right now. Right? You’ve got to take care of your mom. So think that’s really important. Now, I know that you are a one-person business, and you talked about the fact that you’re accountable only to yourself. So 

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how do you do with your own personal accountability? Are you pretty 

good at motivating yourself, or how does that work for you? 

Taska: 

Well, I’ve found that when I was really in the groove, I was doing okay with that. That once I had a pretty regular schedule, more similar to a nine to five job that you go to an office, accountability was working well, but as soon as things like doctor’s visits and tests came up, it was like, it 

just sort of fell apart. 

Tanya: 

Yeah. Understandably, because sometimes you’re at the mercy of those schedules. It’s not as easy to say, “Well, I can only do these during certain hours.” Right? 

Taska: 

Right. Yep. 

Tanya 

So that’s part of that flexibility you’ve heard me talk about, that we have to be flexible because life happens, and things like running your mom to the doctor and taking care of your mom, that’s the higher priority right now, and that’s okay. You’re leaning into your personal bucket, but the other things need to continue running. So when you’re a one person show, it’s really easy to wear 3 million different hats. It’s really easy even if you’re not a business owner, different aspects of our lives, to wear way too many hats. So my first question to you is, what is your job description? Have you taken the time to really figure out what your job looks like? 

Taska: 

Well, as a entrepreneur and business owner, yes, I had a good, solid job description. Taking on this new role as a caregiver for three quarters of the time, and business owner for one quarter of the time, and let’s not even get into the fact that I do actually have other family members and cats, and whatnot. 

Tanya 

And you have a life outside of that, right? Some kind of life, right? Yeah. 

Taska: 

I feel like that has really gone down the hill. I don’t know what I should be doing day to day as this mixed role, and I don’t even know what success looks like at this point. 

Tanya: 

Yes. Okay. So we have three quarters of our time, is spent taking care of mom and caregiving, and then one quarter for work, which leaves you no quarter for the rest of your life. So really, it’s not really a quarter that 

you have for work, it’s really more like maybe an eighth, we’ll say. I’m not good at math, so we’re not going to get into fractions. 

Taska: 

Okay. 

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Tanya: 

Good, good. We really want to make sure that we’re maximizing that time you have. So when you sit down and you write out your job description, I think the first thing we need to do, is we need to lop off and get rid of a good chunk of those things, and let’s really get into the heart of what is most important for you to work on. We need to prioritize it. And really, it’s that idea of that 80/20 rule, right? With Pareto’s principle that it’s the 20% that causes the 80% of impact. So really taking a look at all the jobs you’re doing, and let’s first, let’s try to rank them and prioritize them, and I think because you’re growing your business right now, maybe we prioritize them by how much they move the business forward. 

Taska: 

Right, right. Yeah, the 80/20, that’s a good thing to remember. 

Tanya: 

It’s really easy to get caught up in the trivial many instead of the vital few. So really, at this stage of your business where you’re trying to grow it, let’s focus mostly and mainly on the tasks that you have for your business, that are going to allow it to grow, and allow it to grow some roots so you can have this foundation. Things like, I know that you’ve created… Because you have these amazing kits that you create for kids, and their parents do together. So instead of worrying about things like new product development, let’s instead, let’s get rid of that part of your job description temporarily. Obviously, innovation and adding new products is important eventually, but right now, you already have a few of those done, correct? 

Taska: 

Correct. 

Tanya: 

So, no need to really focus on product development and innovation. Let’s focus in on marketing it, let’s focus in on making sure financial things are in place. What are the most important things that are going to give this business legs? And while innovation might be the part of your job that you really enjoy, researching, and getting these kits ready, and doing all of that, right now, that’s an extra thing. We really want to get the business off the ground. So in thinking about all the jobs you do, can you start there by ranking them by how much they impact the growth of the business? 

Taska: 

Oh, right. Yeah, I had not thought of it in how each of those jobs actually impacts growth. So that’s good to give them a hierarchy now. 

Tanya: 

Yeah, so what I would do, is I would literally write out on a sheet of paper, I would write out all the different things that you list as your job description, of all the things that you do, that you feel like you need to do for your job, and then I would, I would cut them out. 

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Taska: 

Okay 

Tanya: 

Let’s head back to first grade and get out the scissors, and let’s cut them out and let’s make them so they’re ranked on the table. Let’s shift things around. What’s the most important, and then start moving them around and really ranking what the tasks are, and how important they are for that growth, and then what I want you to do, is I want you to take that 80%, and I want you to scoot it into the recycling bin, for right now, temporarily. And then let’s look at that 20%, those tasks that are really going to drive your business forward, because that’s going to take less of your time, if you’re really focusing on the vital few, right? If we get rid of that big 80%. 

Taska: 

Uh-huh (affirmative) 

Tanya: 

And then let’s look again at these tasks and let’s see, are there things you could possibly batch and group together, so that when you do have your one eighth of your time, when you have your time and your space, you can use it as a deeper dive. Let’s say you have an hour to work on your business on Tuesday, instead of trying to do marketing and finance, and this thing and that thing, and all these different categories, maybe you do all the marketing tasks on Monday. And that way, you get in that marketing mindset, and your brain is able to get into that flow, that state of flow where it’s really doing the deeper work, and it’s not as taxing. Does that makes sense? 

Taska: 

It does. I’m a terrible switch tasker. 

Tanya: 

I like your honesty. You know how I feel about that. It’s easy too, especially when you are trying to do so many different things, it’s easy to get caught up in, “Oh, I’ve got to do this. Oh wait, I got to do that, and I got to do this, and I got to do that,” and to really get our brains working at maximum capacity without as much calorie burning and as much work, if we batch these tests together, we can really go even deeper, and it’s easier for our brain. Once it’s in marketing mode, it’s easier to put on another marketing task and another marketing task, versus going from a marketing task to a finance task. 

Taska: 

Right. 

Tanya: 

Unrelated. Right? 

Taska: 

Oh, that makes so much more [inaudible 00:12:25). Yeah. 

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Tanya: 

That’s what I would recommend. I would start off by, let’s figure out your vital few, and then let’s get rid of those other tasks that are not driving you forward right now. We can come back to that, we can revisit that in six months, when we’re celebrating your mom’s clear bill of health and we’re really excited for how that’s gone, this can come back, right? 

Taska: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Tanya: 

That’s something for us to do then, because that is going to happen. Let’s focus in on these 20%, and then let’s take this vital few, and let’s 

start batching them together and grouping them together. And then I would even try to designate certain days of the week like, okay, this is a marketing day, this is a finance day, this is a networking day, because networking is going to be an important part of your growth as well, right? 

Taska: 

Right. Yep, yep. 

Tanya: 

So start grouping those things together, and in those little pockets that you have, they can be extraordinarily powerful, if we utilize them in ways that are not wearing on our brain, because we’re switching from one thing to the next, and try to really carve out a bigger space of time if you can. So instead of taking like 15 minutes, 15 minutes, 15 minutes, can we get a 45 minute block? Is that possible? 

Taska: 

Got it. 

Tanya: 

It might not be. Some days it can work and some days it won’t, but on the days where it’s possible, let’s group that together and give you a deeper area to work in, a bigger pocket of time to really focus in on. 

Taska: 

Okay, that makes a lot of sense. I was thinking kind of in the opposite way of like, “I should just scratch the surface here and there, and that’ll make me feel good.” But no, I think actually hearing you say those pockets, I could do a deeper dive on one thing, sounds way more rewarding, and as you said, more bang for the buck. 

Tanya: 

Yes. Okay, so think of it this way, Taska. 

Taska: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Tanya: 

Let’s talk about that scratching the surface idea. So if you were to take 50 steps in 50 different directions, where are you going to end up? Maybe in the same spot, right? But if you take five steps, just five in one 

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forward direction, in one intentional direction, where are you going to end up then? 

Taska: 

Ah, right. 

Tanya: 

You’re going to end up closer to where you want to go. Those five steps are way more powerful than those 50 steps, because they’re intentional and they’re going in one direction. We’re using that momentum, we’re using velocity, and we’re getting that wind behind our backs to really push us forward. Five steps are going to win, hands down, over the 50 steps. 

Taska: 

Yep. Okay, okay. That’s a clear visualization, I like that. I can 

Tanya: 

Oh, good. 

Taska: 

I think in a visual way, and that’s good for me to process. 

Tanya 

Fabulous. Well, I’m so happy, and I really think that you are focused in on your mom right now, and I think that’s a really good thing, but it’s okay to still carve out time for you, and especially when you’re taking care of others, you do need to make sure that you are taking care of you. So, 1 want to remind you to make sure that you really are actively finding some space to take care of you. You cannot shine your light on others if your battery needs recharging, okay? 

Taska: 

Yeah, 

Tanya 

It’s true. 

Taska: 

Agreed, agreed. Yeah, I’m still working on that, but yes, I need reminders. Charge my batteries. 

Tanya: 

We are all works in progress, so that’s totally okay. Thank you so much, Taska. this was great. I really enjoyed chatting with you. 

Taska: 

Well, thank you, Tanya. You really made some foggy things much clearer for me. 

Tanya: 

I love hearing that. 

I truly adore Taska. She is a woman who is filled with passion for what she is wanting to do, and who’s just struggling a little bit with how to make it all work. I don’t think this is uncommon at all, to feel like we don’t know how to make the impact in our day that we truly want. So I want 

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to talk a little bit more about this idea of the 80/20 rule, and how we can really maximize our time in just a minute. But first, let’s have a quick word from today’s sponsor. 

Today’s episode has been brought to you by my company, inKWELL Press. Now, if you are looking for a way to really focus in on where you want to go for the next year, the goal setting planner that we’re offering this year is hands down, the best we’ve ever created. I don’t say that lightly, because I loved last year’s goal setting planner, and it sold out just right after the start of the year. So if you want to get your hands on a goal setting planner, I really do recommend grabbing it today. 

This is the perfect time to set your year up for success. And the bonus is that with our goal setting planners comes exclusive access to my Goal Setting Challenge. This will be a live pop-up Facebook group where you’ll have exclusive access to me, working together to challenge you, to help you to focus in, and help you set your goals to be achievable for 2020. 

And this is what I’m excited about, is last year I had the Goal Setting Challenge, and I had thousands of people who signed up, and the response to it was incredible. People felt like it really set up their whole year for success. This year, I wanted it to be a little more intimate, so we’ve made it an exclusive for those of you purchasing 2020 goal setting planner inserts, and you get access to it absolutely free, but the Goal Setting Challenge all begins January 6th 2020. So go to inkwellpress.com, grab your goal setting inserts, and let’s get this year started. 

All right, so speaking of focus, I want to talk about this whole idea of the 80/20 rule, and if you read The Joy of Missing Out, my book, of course you know that the 80/20 rule is also called Pareto’s principle. And what i love about Pareto’s principle is that it’s been proven time after time, after time, for well over 300 years to be true. 20% of our work results in about 80% of our outcome, which means we don’t really have to do 100%. Whew, what a relief that is, right? This is why we feel like we spread ourselves so thin because we’re trying to do 100%, when really, if we focused on fewer, if we really focused in on the things that really matter most, we can make a greater impact. We don’t really want to 

treat everything exactly the same. 

You see, when we give our focus to the 20%, which is known as the vital few, we can make a bigger impact than if we try to focus on everything, which is known as the trivial many. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If we’re trying to focus in on everything, we’re spreading ourselves far too thin. 

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So instead, let’s give our attention to the few things that will really drive us to the results we want, and this is true in all areas. Who’s your top 20% when it comes to your clients? Because you know what? They are bringing in 80% of your revenue. What are the top 20% of your products? Because you know what? They account for 80% of your sales. What’s the 20% of your tasks that contribute to 80% of your business growth? 

Now, I do want to note, like I mention in the book, it’s not always a perfect 80/20 split. You might find that it’s 90/10 or 85/15, but start paying attention to what are the tasks, the people, the whatever that brings in the big results. No matter how that ratio is split, I can promise you it’s always the vital few where you want to spend your focus. That’s what should be getting the lion’s share of your attention, is the smaller number that results in the greater impact. 

You heard too when I was talking with Taska, that choosing a theme to your days can really help you maximize that focus, to really give it a laser focus, when we’re talking about these small pockets of time, or really, even if it’s a full eight hour day, I think it’s true that everyone feels like we’re doing a million different things. It’s no surprise that we feel like we’re running in circles, so let’s choose to stop running rings, and create a straight path for ourselves. By focusing in on one area for the day, we can help take away some of that decision fatigue about what to work on. If it’s a financial day, you work on anything and everything financial, that might mean budget planning, or reconciling your accounts, or paying your bills. This was one of the ways that I grew and scaled my business to seven figures, with just three people on my team. Mm-hmm (affirmative) Including me. 

So, if I had tried during that time to do all of the things that needed to happen, I would’ve run myself ragged. But because I gave each day a 

focus, I could dive deeper into it. I used my Pareto’s principle to figure out what were the important tasks, and then I gave each one of these things a little more of my attention, by theming out my days. And this is true even if you’re not running a business. As I shared with Taska, look at that job description that you have for your job, list out the tasks and the projects that need to happen, and then simply start grouping them into themes or ideas. 

For me, when I was running my business, so when I first started, it was marketing and finance, operations, content creation, and so on. For you, it might depend on what your job is, so it might look different. Let’s say you’re a marketing executive, you might break it down into strategy, execution, teamwork days, and so on. This idea of themes even works in 

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our home life as well. We can theme our home into zones. One day for bedrooms, one day for bathrooms, another day for kitchen, then main areas. Have each area of your home have a focus, where you clean and keep it organized. 

Again, it’s all about helping life to run smoothly and easily. Let’s take the thinking out of it. All that decision making, all that fretting, the stressing and worrying about whether things have fallen between the cracks or not, make sure they get done by giving them the time and the space that they need. Give them the focus they demand, and by setting up themes or focuses for each day, we allow ourselves to dive deeper, even when life throws us a curve ball, or maybe even two curve balls, like it has for Taska. Let’s choose not to go shallow. Let’s dive in and make the difference we really want. Think about the vital few and how that applies to what you do in your everyday life, and then create some themes to allow you that space to dive deeper into that vital few. I can promise you, you’re going to see a huge difference. 

And speaking of making a big difference, I want to remind you one more time, the goal setting inserts from inkWELL Press really will make a difference in how you focus for 2020, how you spend your time and really lean into each of the areas of your life to set goals, and not just set goals, but achieve them. I want this year to be the year you go from goal setting to goal getting, and truly, that free access you get to my Goal Setting Challenge pop-up group, where I will be in there live doing videos, chatting with you, helping to guide you along with other like minded people who are also goal setting, really can make a huge 

difference. Let’s make this coming year your best year yet. 

All right. Speaking of the best year yet, I can’t believe we’re already into 2020, and next week is our last week of season 12, which has been all about the joy of missing out. This has been an incredible and amazing season. I think you can agree with me. This has been something so different than anything we’ve done in the past, but it’s been so incredibly worthwhile to stretch myself out of my comfort zone. So next week will be our last week, and we are going to be talking about the fact that you don’t need as much time as you think you do. So, I can’t wait to dive into that with you next week. All right, in the meantime, have a beautiful and productive week. 

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. Want to learn more about your unique productivity style? Simply go to Tanyadalton.com to take her free quiz and get free 

resources designed just for you. That’s Tanya, with an O and a Y. 

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