One of the most important characteristics of successful thinkers is their ability to focus.
How many times it has happened to you that you spent some time and energy thinking about something and you ended up with a bunch of interesting ideas on all problems except on the one that you had actually been asked to think about? This happens because you do not have a clear focus on the subject that you are thinking about.
According to a famous expert on creative thinking Dr Edward de Bono, there are two types of focuses: Area Focus and Purpose Focus.
Area Focus enables us to think broadly about some subject and generate all kinds of ideas connected to that subject. For example, let’s say that my Area Focus is this blog. In that case I will think about different topics that I could write about, ways to draw traffic to my blog, different design templates for my homepage, etc. Or, I could choose my backyard garden as an Area Focus for my thinking. Then I will think about new plants that I could plant there, different ways to increase shade so I could spend more time lounging there; I will think of different types of garden furniture I could buy; or how to create interesting light effects during the night... Area Focus is particularly useful when we are looking for improvements or planning future steps in the development of some project because it can help us discover new and interesting opportunities.
In Purpose Focus we think about a specific problem that we want to solve or purpose that we wish to achieve. This is the most common type of Focus that we encounter in every day thinking and therefore it is important to learn how to define it. With Purpose Focus we need to ask ourselves ’How do we..?’ or ’What are the ways to...?’ How can I create some time during the day to do exercise? How can we make our sales process more efficient? What are the ways to create friendlier atmosphere in our restaurant? How can we attract more affluent shoppers into our show room? In what ways I could make my kid keep his room tidy? These are some examples of well defined Purpose Focuses.
Define your Focus in just one sentence.
Write your Focus somewhere where you will be able to see it while searching for new ideas.
Set a time limit for your thinking.
Never stick to an idea that you personally find interesting but that does not provide right answer to the Focus. Do not try to artificially link it to the Focus, drop it and move on to another idea.
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