Greetings everyone, my name is Julie Masters and welcome to another episode of Inside Influence. In which I delve into the minds of some of the world’s most fascinating influencers – or experts in influence – to get to the bottom of what it really takes to own your voice – and then amplify it to drive an industry, a conversation, a movement or a Nation.”
Now, when you listen to this podcast, are you only listening to this podcast? Or when you listen to this podcast, are you cooking? Driving? Working? Working out? All of the above?
Chances are you’re not focussing solely on this podcast. Most likely, you’re doing something else. In fact, when you think about it – when was the last time you shut down all distractions and focused on one thing utterly and completely?
And why am I even asking these questions – what does any of this have to do with influence? The answer is – everything. If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s this – we can have no influence, not over ourselves, our organisations, our networks or our communities – without first mastering the ability to focus.
The most influential people you know are the most focused. I’ll say that again… The most influential people you know are the most focused. They are the most able to tune out the noise and focus on essential signals. And in doing so create a force strong enough to pierce through the noise in other people’s lives – long enough and consistently enough – to create an equally focused following.
Add to that – that there are no shortage of distractions right now. No shortage of screaming elements that are as urgent as they are important. The future of the economy, important social unrest in our societies, a pandemic, the health and wellbeing and continued isolation from our families, educating and entertaining our children at home, trying to keep our jobs and businesses alive – not to mention the ever ready call of social media – just to remind us of everything else we (probably) don’t have the time or bandwidth to even consider adding to our plate.
PLUS – and I will stop soon I promise – there’s this whispering opportunity many of us feel at the moment. The opportunity to look deeply at our lives, our careers, our businesses – and redesign them. For some it’s to include more breaks, more white space and more connection. For other’s it’s transitioning to a business model that will put us and our teams in the strongest possible position for whatever comes next.

So – have I made my case yet? Focus and how we deal with distractions has everything to do with influence.
My guest today has been making this case for over 15 years.
Chris Bailey believes in a ‘human’ approach to productivity and focus i.e. no spreadsheets in sight. A fact that makes me truly happy.
His fascination with focus first led him to dedicating a year after college – turning down a number of job opportunities – in order experiment with productivity. Primarily using himself as the guinea pig. These experiments included…. working a 90 hour week, watching 70 hours of TED talks in 7 days, and making himself bored for a month to see where his mind wandered. All this, with the aim to learn and share how we can focus more deeply, overcome procrastination and energise ourselves in the process.
The result of this 12 months was his first book ‘The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy’. The book was a huge success, but then Chris noticed something – that his old unfocused habits were starting to creep back in – particularly when it came to technology. This led to his second book – the manual he needed and couldn’t find: ‘Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction’.
In this episode – the conversation I needed but previously hadn’t been able to find – we dive into…
1. The one thing that we (i.e. I) wanted to hear the most. That it’s not our fault we’re distracted. Apparently, we’re hard wired for novelty (for reasons we’ll get into) and that every time we discover a new and novel thing – hello social media – our brain gives us an addictive hit of dopamine. So, if you can give yourself a pass for that, and be kinder to yourself in those moments, that’s the first step to a better attention span.
2. Following on from that, how to embrace the break. That includes learning to read your own cues about when it’s time to take a break. And by the way, looking at your phone is not taking a break. Sorry about that.
3. The rule of 3. This is one of Chris’ top focus tips – each morning, he picks three intentions for the day – out of the many he has on his plate, and gets them done.
4. How not to fear White Space (another word for the ‘in-between time’ we often avoid or try to fill with stimuli). And how harnessing that space, that pause, is the key to becoming a more effective decision-maker.
5. And finally, the joy of email sprints – which I can promise you does not require active wear, but does get that never-ending monkey of your Inbox off your back.
So, no more distractions from me, time to press pause on whatever you’re doing – or at least one of the things you’re doing – and get set to consider a new way of working with the ‘force of focus’ that is Chris Bailey….