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How to Focus - Something's Gotta Give

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Articles on the internet make it sound so simple to find focus and direction. It's easy, just make health your top priority. It's easy, just make family your top priority. It's easy, just make your work and financial goals your top priority....wait a second!

I don't think that's how prioritizing works. There needs to be a better answer. I'm going to try something new and see how it goes.

Where the focus goes:

  • Set aside a minimum of 20 minutes each day of completely focused time on each thing that is important. Family? 20 minutes of time with no phone and no distractions to talk, play or do an activity. Exercise? 20 minutes giving it full effort to work up a sweat and pump up the muscles. Finances? Pay bills and do some quick basic budgeting. 20 minutes of fully-focused, distraction-free time is so much more valuable than 3 hours of kind of focusing while also checking emails, listening to podcasts and grabbing a snack.

  • Find one topic each week that will get at least 1 hour of devoted focus. This will be a lot like having a class in a certain topic. At least half of this time has to be on action. One full hour of just learning and not taking action does not end up sticking as well. The time being spent does not qualify for Malcolm Gladwell's expert 10,000 hour qualification, but one hour of distraction-free, fully-focused education that is partially action-based might get you to that expert level a lot faster. The quality and efficiency of those hours counts for a lot.

  • Letting go of time and energy sucking thoughts and activities will free up more time for things that matter. Some things that can get the boot are worrying about what other people think (what a huge waste of time), scrolling social media for hours to see what other people are doing or spending too much time consuming and taking information in rather than acting and putting it out. Instead of checking social media to see what people are doing, set aside 10 minutes to reach out to a positive friend or relative.

Realizing this is a huge relief. Now that the focus plan is in place, having an organized scheduling system seems like a logical next step. Tomorrow I'll set aside 20 minutes of focused time to creating a system that makes this simple!

So maybe the idea is not to worry about what deserves focus, but instead practice focused, uninterrupted time on whatever activity is happening. In a world of constant multi-tasking, this is a skill that is rare but will make a huge difference.

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