If you were to ask someone like Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, or Elon Musk why they have managed to create such incredible success in life, they would probably credit their achievements to one thing: their ability to FOCUS.
Today I’d like to teach you some of the best tips for focusing that I’ve learned from the highly focused and successful people I’ve met and worked with, so you can put their methods to work in your life – and achieve your goals much faster and much more efficiently.
We Are Prone to Distractions
Being able to focus on the task in front of you and get it done, no matter what is happening around you, is like a modern-day superpower. Most of us aren’t able to do this.
We lose countless hours of aimlessly surfing on social media. We check our phone hundreds of times a day and allow ourselves to get pulled into online conversations that take us away from the more important things we should be doing.
We spend our evenings and weekends bingeing on the latest popular HBO or Netflix series, and then we wonder why we haven’t gotten any closer to accomplishing our goals!
Face it: we all experience lack of focus from time to time.
Tips for Focusing
The good news is, focus isn’t something you’re either born with or not. It’s something that anyone can cultivate, with just a bit of time and effort.
Let these tips for focusing be your guide to accomplishing anything you desire.
Keep Your Goals in Front of You
My first tip for focusing is to set very specific and clear goals, and then keep those goals in front of you at all times
Many successful people have their goals posted on the wall or on their computer desktop where they will see them every day.
They might even have their most important goals written on a card they keep in their wallets. I do!
Create a Schedule
My second tip for focusing is to create a strict schedule for yourself, with daily tasks you need to complete in order to reach your goals by a specific date.
Successful people also make it their top priority every day to complete those tasks before they do anything else.
In my case, when I first get into my office I spend at least an hour writing and editing whatever book I am currently writing. Before looking at emails, answering letters, checking the news, or anything else.
Creating this kind of strict schedule for yourself might seem very structured and rigid, but highly successful people actually find it liberating.
Because when you start each day clear on what your most important tasks are, you eliminate so much of the distraction, uncertainty, and unnecessary busywork that causes most people to waste so much of their day spinning their wheels and not getting very much done.
Not only that – because you’ve already done the work of planning your day and are prioritizing your tasks, you won’t find yourself worrying about things you might be forgetting, or scrambling to get something important done at the last minute.
This will make it so much easier for you to get into the “flow” of focusing only on your work and nothing else.
Prioritizing Your Tasks
First, decide what your annual goals are. What do you want to complete in the next 12 months?
Then, figure out what big steps you need to take each month in order to complete that goal in a year.
Once you have your monthly goals, break them down into weekly goals, and then figure out what you need to do each day in order to achieve those weekly goals.
Then, once you know your daily goals, commit to achieving them…and here is the key…no matter what.
Do whatever it takes to get it done.
Get Clear About Your Purpose
Successful people know what they were put here on Earth to do – and they use that sense of purpose to stay motivated and focused on their goals no matter what obstacles appear in the road.
Because their purpose is what gives their lives joy and meaning, and points them relentlessly in the direction of making their dreams come true.
The fourth tip for focusing that I’ve learned from highly focused people is to get intensely action-oriented.
After all, successful people know that goals without action are nothing more than dreams.
If you want to make them a reality, you need to take meaningful, consistent action to make it happen.
Chunk it Down
Chunk your goals down into a series of small but achievable steps – put them on a list, and then cross them off that list, one by one.
It’s okay if you don’t know every single step you’re going to have to take to achieve your goals. The main thing is to start with the obvious things and then ask others for guidance along the way.
If you are truly committed to the goal, the hows will show up along the way once you begin to take action. Just take one step after another, and the path before you will become clear.
Finally, the last tip for focusing that I’d like to share with you today is to avoid multi-tasking.
In fact, highly focused people are the opposite of multi-taskers!
They structure their schedule so that they are able to give their full attention to only one thing at a time, instead of trying to do a whole bunch of things at once.
That way they are able to complete each task much more effectively in less time.
An example of a useful time structure is Dan Sullivan’s Entrepreneurial Time System. This is how I like to structure my time.
The Entrepreneurial Time System is based on three different kinds of days: Focus Days, Buffer Days, and Free Days.
1. Focus Days
On Focus Days, you spend at least 80 percent of your time working in your main area of expertise. This is the work that directly improves your bottom line.
If you’re a writer, these are the days you write. If you’re in sales, these are the days you spend on the phone, talking to your customers and leads, trying to close orders. If you build houses, these are the days you’re on site, hammering nails into wood.
But your business or your job involves so much more than doing the work that translates directly into sales or bottom-line results.
It also involves all of the other necessary tasks that are peripheral to the work but that make it possible for you to do that work. That’s what Buffer Days are for.
If you’re a writer, those are the days you print up your book proposal and send it off to publishing agents. If you’re in sales, maybe your Buffer Days are when you get caught up with your paperwork. And if you’re a builder, maybe your Buffer Days are when you do your ordering of supplies, payroll, meeting with your accountant, and employee training.
2. Free Days
On these days, you’ll take a full 24 hours—midnight to midnight—to do anything you want to – so long as it’s not related to work.
This is your day to focus entirely on YOU – by spending time with your friends and family, working on a hobby, enjoying time in nature, reading books, going to the movies, watching TV, playing sports, or learning a new skill just for fun.
By organizing your days in this way, you make it so much easier for you to remain present and focused on what you’re doing – when you’re doing it.
3. Buffer Days
The Buffer Day tasks will no longer distract you from the important work you do on your Focus Days. And your work will no longer intrude into your personal life on your Free Days – because you know how important it is to take that time to rest and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.
Those are the tips for focusing that I’ve learned from highly successful people. Now, let’s make this a discussion. I’d like to hear your thoughts after reading this blog!
What are your favorite tips for focusing, and how do you regain your focus when you’re dealing with distractions?
If you found these tips for focusing helpful, make sure you like it and share it with a friend who may need it.
For additional resources on things that highly focused people do, visit my website at jackcanfield.com.
Thank you for reading! And remember, nothing in your life will change for the better until you do.
For more tips on living a joyful, abundant, and successful life, get the first two chapters of my best selling book, The Success Principles.
As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!
Image courtesy of Warren Wong.