J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Focus is the Key to Success at Microsoft

Focus is the Key to Success at Microsoft

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"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." -- Mark Twain

Focus is the key to success at Microsoft for many people.  I put together proven practices for how to focus in a comprehensive set of “Focus Guidelines”. 

One of my mentors, a seasoned manager at Microsoft, once told me that the difference that makes the difference – why some people succeed and others do not – is focus. Those that lack focus spread themselves too thin, or never finish what they start. They have a lot of dreams, ambition, and ideas but they never spend enough time working on any one thing to make it happen. On the flip side, those with focus, know what they want to accomplish, and they apply concentrated effort, and see it through to completion. They also focus on less, yet achieve more.

I set out to nail a set of proven practices that could help anybody improve their ability to focus.   I gave myself a timebox of four hours to see what I could put together for a v1 release.  I sanity checked the results with a few folks that said it very much echoed what they thought were the keys to improving focus, so now I’m sharing with a broader audience.  (If you’re wondering why I gave myself a timebox of four hours for this it was to help me focus Winking smile   Focus is a complex topic and deserves attention, but I also have other priorities I’m working on.  I was willing to spend 2 hours Saturday and 2 hours Sunday to chip away at this stone, if it could help the greater good to have a robust set of practices that actually work for achieving the highest levels of focus.  I expect my four hour investment to help many others get exponential results and help them take their game to a new level, by expanding their mental toolbox.  Even if that’s not the case, spending four hours to work on such a key cross-cutting skill for life is still a good investment.)

These practices are time-tested and Softie approved.  As you can imagine, with all the bright and shiny objects that go flying around, it takes skill and discipline to stay focused.  The beauty though is that if you know the key strategies and tactics for improving your focus, then it actually gets a lot easier to focus where it counts and enjoy the ride.

Explore my “Focus Guidelines” and learn how to focus with skill.