There are certain questions that I continue to see repeatedly.
“How Do You Stay Focused?”
“How Do You Avoid Wasting Time?”
“How Are You So Productive?”
Or similar “focus” or “productivity” questions… are on top of that list.
After a quick brainstorming session, I came up with 25 ways to stay focused that you might benefit from.
As I sat and thought about what makes me so productive and focused on my goals, I did find that every tip or hack fit into four categories:
The first is what I do before I ever start working to give myself the best chance of success.
The second are techniques that I use to be the most productive during my working hours.
The third is what I do shortly after my working hours to evaluate what I accomplished that day and set myself up for tomorrow.
And forth, I also noticed that I did several things daily/weekly/monthly that didn’t fit any of the three areas above that also amplify my overall success and ability to focus.
Some of these won’t apply to you but I suspect that many will.
I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I have made a lot of mistakes… and more importantly… I’ve uncovered a lot of tips and tricks that make me crazy productive and keep me uber focused.
Lets get started with what I do before I ever start my daily routines.
First and foremost, I start with the right mindset. This is the most important step… by far… you shouldn’t even start unless you are in the right frame of mind so I’ll start with that.
Before you even start working…
1. You must have a positive mindset – or nothing positive will happen. You can’t think about anything negative. You may be broke, just lost your job, lost your spouse or in bad health but you must clear your mind of everything except positive thoughts. Many of the tips below give examples of how to do that.
2. Do what makes you happy. You may prefer to read or you may prefer to watch a video. Doesn’t matter if prefer to read success stories of people achieving their goals or if watching videos of baby cats make you happy (like it does for my wife). Bottom line: Just do it. Starting with a smile on your face ensures you are the most creative.
3. Have SMART goals. I’ll write a different goals setting article but in general your goal should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (but still a stretch), and Time-bound. Oh, and write them down with pen and paper (no computer, phone and etc).
4. Have a clear vision. You have SMART goals but now you need a vision or way-forward to achieve those goals.
5. Read or watch success stories. I personally like to watch videos so I get to experience the full emotions of success. I vary the success stories into smaller, medium and massive successes. Sometimes I focus on successes with the exact area I’m working and sometimes it can and should be completely unrelated. Bottom line… success breeds success!
6. Visualize that you have achieved your goals before starting… some things that an internet marketer are required to do are definitely not sexy… but must be done anyway. Visualizing your goals already accomplished make this much easier!
7. Set your office up for success. It must be quit. It must be distraction free. It must be clean; don’t leave anything out that is not required to accomplish your specific daily to-do list. Don’t allow technology to delay/prevent results. Have the fastest internet connection possible.
8. Speaking of a daily “to-do” list… have one. You must know what needs to be done. You must know what order it needs to be done to be the most effective. Things don’t always work out perfectly but you have to start with a plan that focuses on the correct priorities.
9. Identify your number one most important goal of the day. What MUST be done today? There can be one or many items on your list but there should be a pecking order. Some things are important and others build upon each other. Do what’s important but make sure you do what you must today to enable more successful actions tomorrow.
10. Setup your day before you ever start. Know what you need to do. Have a list. When you sit down to do work, leave nothing to chance.
What you should do during your productive time…
11. Before you start, get yourself in the right mindset for success. Doesn’t matter how… visualize, mediate, whatever… just make sure you are motivated by your vision, goals and know the desired outcome of today.
12. Rid yourself of all distractions. Log out of Facebook, WhatsApp, and etc… then silence your cell phone. Some things can’t be prevented; most things can. You know your daily habits so change your actions to give you the most distraction-free work time so you can be as productive as possible.
13. You must have an executable action plan that aligns with your goals. Again, I’ll write a more in-depth goals setting article another day but you must know and be motivated by your goals. Knowing your goals and the ultimate outcome you desire will enable you to focus on your #1 most important task of the day.
14. Work on the most important task first. Some days require numerous action steps. Some action steps are more important than others. Focus on the most important first and when you have more than one… always do the most difficult, time consuming task first. Always! While I’ll write more on this later, do the most important task first to build momentum to get you through the less important and more mundane tasks.
15. Build breaks into your schedule. No one is a robot and we all need breaks. Know yourself. Maybe you can only concentrate for 10 minutes or maybe you can go for 50 minutes. Me personally, I know that I’m only good for about 30 minutes so that’s all I do. I set a timer and once the alarm goes off at 30 minutes, I finish the thought and stop. After a 5-10 minute break, I’m good to go again! This allows me to get 40-50 minutes of progress each hour. Get creative… do what works for you and stay flexible. Some days we can focus better/worse than others. It gets easier… you can literally train your brain to focus over time!
What you should do immediately after your productive time…
16. Review your progress… what went right, what went wrong, what can you do better next time. Maybe you played distracting music that caused you to start chair dancing or singing. I personally love hell-raising heavy metal (think Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and etc) when I am working out hard but certainly wouldn’t help when I need focus and creativity.
17. Be honest with yourself; take responsibility for what you discovered in #16 above. No, not everything that you identified is your fault, but you are most likely the only one who can make the required change to move on.
18. Continuously reward your progress… regardless of small or large wins… reward them all. This goes a long way towards ensuring you enjoy the project and makes you look forward to coming back from your break to get back to work. But more than that, small wins build synergy that quickly turn into much larger wins.
Here are a few other important tips that don’t fit the above categories…
19. Get up and move… do some physical exercise. This helps in all areas (more energy, better mindset, and just might help you look better naked!) but it’s an easy way to continue creating synergy and racking up the wins. Whoever said “strong body, strong mind” was 100% right.
20. Have a system… develop to-do lists, use a planner or journal, buy a timer… whatever works for your, just do something and do it intentionally. Stick with what works but this is also an area that I continue to tweak and test new ideas.
21. Read or listen to motivational material daily. You can and should do this daily. It doesn’t have to take long either. If you feel like you just don’t have time, then just read one of your favorite quotes or something super fast. Better yet, tape a quote or something that motivates you on your bathroom mirror so you see it while brushing your teeth (no extra time!). I spend an hour or so commuting each day so I REALLY love to listen to Audible while I’m in the car… again, no extra time!
22. Set daily/weekly/monthly targets. Without this step you won’t know if you are on track. You won’t know if changes need to be made. You won’t know if rewards are justified.
23. Calm your mind. For some this is simply a few deep breaths. For others, this is full on meditation. It really doesn’t matter as long as you clear your mind and open up to new ideas and new forms of creativity.
24. Keep it positive. You need to continue to remind yourself of what achieving the goal will bring into your life. Maybe you are in dire straights and money earned will be to pay the bills. Maybe you are trying to earn money to pay for your kid’s college. It doesn’t matter as long as you associate it to a positive outcome. Try to stay away from negative reinforcement. It’s positive to have a goal to pay your bills. It’s negative if your goal is associated with making money before your electricity is cut off.
25. Minimize multitasking. Most people think they are good at multitasking but science tells us differently. Focus on one thing, the most important thing… and do it with the best of your ability. Then move on to something new.
Wow, I can’t believe that those 25 came so easy. Guess that goes to show how much I’ve learned from past failure.
Hopefully you benefited from reading this list. Hopefully you don’t relate to too many of them.
This was a broad brush stroke of 25 tips and tricks that I think will might benefit from. In the future, I’ll deep dive a few of the more important ones and share some of my failures and describe how I turned things around into a positive.
Until the next article…