At the very base of achieving success, relieving stress, and meeting our goals, is the need to stay focused.
It’s very important to possess, so much so that if you expect to achieve anything in life, you need to perfect it.
This blog will eventually contain many post that are like The Ultimate Personal Development Plan.
However, at the base of any personal development resides one important thing that we need to address. Your ability to stay focused, because no matter how much strategizing, planning, or reading you do, if you can’t stay focused, then you’ll never reach completion of goals and see success.
We all struggle with staying focused, myself included. Technology makes it even more difficult. We get text messages, Facebook and twitter alerts, and those ever growing emails.
I once read a study that on average when someone gets any type of notification on their phone, they check it within the first 5 seconds. Honestly, at times, I definitely fit that bill. I mean, it could be an important email!
However, most of the time it’s not life changing and there is little difference if you read and or replied to the notification when first received or a few hours later.
That’s something to keep in mind, always. Is a distraction more important than achieving your goals?
Remember with focus comes power to succeed:
Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives. Tony Robbins
Now, I’m going to go over some things that I do that help keep me focused. This is my personal guide to staying focused and what I do to achieve goals. Obviously, you’ll need to pick and choose (even alter) what will work best for you. The base of this article is to keep you focused while working on tasks.
- Put your phone on silent and place it somewhere behind you. I found that if I had it in front of me, a light would flash and tempt me. I tried turning the phone over, but that didn’t work. It’s the whole out of sight out of mind concept. By placing your phone behind you, once you start working you’ll be more likely to forget about it.
- Clear your workspace. They say a workspace reflects the person’s mind. For me, that seems to be true. If I begin to work surrounded by clutter, I can’t seem to produce ideas. Therefore, I clear my desk and make it neat. If I’m working in a clean environment, I feel clear headed. Also, I tend to write down a lot of notes about various ideas and I always seem to discover one while I’m working. Once I do, I begin to thing about it and all of a sudden I’m thinking about two different things.
- Disconnect from the social world. I know this is going to be hard, but turn the internet off. You can use products like Evernote or something similar to save articles and read in an offline mode. I’ve found that when I turn of my wi-fi it acts like a reality check, because half way through something I’ll create an excuse to look something up and then I get that no connection page. It is like it slaps me in the face and says, hey get back to work! Focus!
- Close all programs that aren’t needed to complete your task. Sometimes when I’m working, I’ll have a few seconds where I’m thinking and I’ll move my mouse around and see a program open. Then I think to myself, you know I need to update that or I need to make sure…You get the picture. It’s just a distraction.
- Say a mantra. Repeat to yourself aloud, or if you’re in a coffee shop and don’t want to look crazy, to yourself, the task that you’re going to do. I’m going to write one post, I’m going to outline my new goal, I’m going to find my passion, etc., The more you say it, the more you tell your brain—no distractions, I want this and this is what we’re going to do!
- Listen to calming music. I’ve found that if I listen to music with words, I’ll start singing my favorite parts. Then I start thinking about where I was when I first heard it or some other memory associated with the song. So, what I do is listen to music without words–classical. On occasion, I will also listen to music with words I don’t understand. Both serve the purpose of prohibiting me from sing a long or focus on it too much. Right now, for some unknown reason, I’ve been into gregorian chants. Not sure why, but it calms me. I’m actually listening to it as I type this.
- No multitasking! If I try to focus on more than one thing, I just start thinking about multiple things. My focus is split between different projects. I talk about this in my blog post, Forget It, I Give Up: Dealing with Pressure When You Have A Long To Do List. Most of the time, whatever task needs to be complete there are number of steps you’ll need to do, so you always have enough to work with. Only focus on one thing, when it’s 100% done, move on to the next. Whether it’s a step or a task. One thing at a time
- Take breaks. I know this may read like it doesn’t belong here, but it does. We all get burnt out on things if we work too long. I normally take a break every hour. Get up and walk around. Stretch. Get something to drink. Whatever it may be, just make sure you give yourself 5-10min to center yourself and collect your thoughts. I notice that when I work too long without a break, I tend to slip in the quality department. My brain gets tired and fresh ideas come slower and slower.
- Reward yourself when necessary. I have a friend who thinks of something he really wants to do instead of working. Most of the time it’s something simple like go on Facebook or check emails. He tells himself, okay, I can do all that as soon as I finish what I need to do. This gives him a carrot to work towards. This in turn motivates him to focus 100% on the task to get it done so he can go online. I actually do this to. Once my task is complete, I’ll surf the web, answer emails, go on twitter, etc., Whatever I wanted to do that isn’t work. So, after you’ve completed whatever it is you were working on, reward yourself with something that distracts you.
- Try to be consistent. I feel one of the reasons I was able to become successful at this was because I took my 9th hour around the same time every day. It enabled me to subconsciously prepare myself. I knew that when 7pm rolled around, it was time to have my 9th hour and focus on my goals, plans, strategies, etc., We as people like routine so having a positive one is extremely beneficial.
In order to make these tips really stick, you need to always practice them. After about 30days you should be doing these things without thinking and you’ll begin to notice a huge boost in your productivity. Also, start small. If it becomes too hard for you, work for 10min then reward yourself for 5min. Next time go for 15min and so on. Build up to the point where you’re able to do it for one hour.
If you begin to notice that you’re having a hard time getting over your dislikes of your goals. I’ve published a little PDF of a sheet I use: 6 Steps To Beating Out The Dislikes of Goals and Achieving Success
Hopefully all this helps!