How Should I Focus?

FocusStarve

There are few things I have found to be essential to my success and personal fulfillment in my life more important than focus.  Oddly enough when I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test, focus was one of my top five strengths yet I seem to daily struggle with it.  I addressed this challenge in Are you Distracted?  We live in a day and age where there are more distractions that ever fighting for our attention.  If focus is so important, but becoming increasingly harder to achieve, what can we do to improve our focus?

There are several books, blog posts, and videos on this topic.  All of them offer great value.  I want to share the single most impactful lesson/tool on focus I have found.  It is the third habit in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Put First Things First.

FirstThingsFirstQuadrants

The reality is we all know there are a few simple things in our jobs, health, relationships, and other areas that if we would simply do them would lead to breakthrough, growth and improvement in our lives.  They are the most important things we can do and focus on.  The challenge is if we neglect them any individual day there are usually not any serious negative consequences.  They are some of the most important things we could and should be doing, but they are not urgent.

For most of us our time gets consumed by urgent and unimportant tasks.  A notification comes through on our phone and we instantly check the email or text.  The dishes in the sink are dirty and we wash them every time there is one dirty glass.  We drove through a puddle so we have to wash the car as soon we get home.  The list of these tasks goes on and on.  They happen so they grab out attention and we take care of them quickly.  The reality is we have a continual list of urgent and unimportant things which continues to accumulate and when we look back upon all of these tasks we have spent countless hours on we realize none of them have ever significantly changed our lives for the better.  Another way to think about it when we are at the end of our lives we will not wish we cleaned the house and checked Instagram more regularly.

I am not saying these tasks should never be done.  What I am suggesting is we should not complete them until we first complete our important, but not urgent tasks.

Is it exercise, eating healthy, investing in your retirement, spending 1 hour of uninterrupted time with your children or spouse, scheduling a daily business presentation in your direct sales business, or reading 10 pages of a good book?  These tasks are what create a positive Slight Edge in our lives.

If we neglect them any single day our lives will not fall apart and if we complete them one time we will not miraculously improve our lives.  However, if we regularly commit to their completion they will over time change everything in our lives for the better.

SlightEdgeChart

In December of 2013 I had just read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the second time and this habit was burning in my mind.  On the first Thursday of December Beth and I had a long to do list of items to get done that day, but we had the opportunity to schedule an appointment with a high quality couple for our business.  In our business we teach, train, and mentor others to start and operate their own businesses and we get paid a residual income in perpetuity for our investment of time.  That appointment interrupted the middle of our day and the only things we really accomplished that day were our daily Crossfit workout and this appointment.  By most people’s standards that would be an unproductive day.  I just went back and added it up.  Over the past 22 months that single appointment has paid us $75,000 and that number continues to grow every single day.  I remember telling Beth that day when we did the appointment even though we did not complete everything we planned that day it was fine because we leveraged the Put First Things First principle.

I realize for so many of us this seems like a different way of approaching our day.  We are constantly being pulled to complete insignificant tasks while we push the most important things to the margins of our lives.  What if you made this switch and began completing the most important tasks on a daily or weekly basis?  What if this was THE KEY to helping you accomplish the things you want most in your life?  Would it be worth it?

Question: What is one thing you know you should do to live the life you want, but currently you are not doing on a consistent basis?  Comment below

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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