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The Power of Focus… And What to Do When You Don’t Have Any

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That’s how many times each day you check your phone. In fact, in this past year, that number has gone up to nearly 150. That’s once every seven minutes.

It’s probably not a shock that our attention spans are shrinking, too. According to a study conducted by Microsoft, goldfish have better focus than humans do.


What does all that a mean for your business?

Well, if you’re anything like me, it means it takes longer to get things done.

I’ve had this post editor open for an embarrassing length of time and I’ve written less than 100 words, largely because I keep stopping to check my email.

In a perfect world, I could sit down and just write. Emails, courses, blog posts, podcast episodes, and all the other important pieces of content I want to put out in the world would just flow from my keyboard.

Of course, that doesn’t happen. Instead, sit down and open up Scrivener and write a sentence or maybe two before having a sudden urge to check my email again.

My mouse hand reaches for the envelope icon in my dock seemingly on its own, and before I know it, I’m clicking through to check out a sale on Buddy’s heartworm medication.

I switch back to writing pretty quickly, but this kind of task switching is costly. As you might imagine, I get a lot more done (and in a lot less time) when I maintain my focus on a single task instead.

Realizing that, I have a few strategies to improve my focus. If you find yourself task switching throughout your day, give them a try and see if they help.

Clean up my space. I cannot focus in a messy office, so often the first thing I do is clear off my desk. When all those notes and coffee cups and books and pens and reading glasses and bills are organized and put away and I can see my desktop again, it’s much easier to get to work. The same goes for my computer desktop, too.

Prioritize my to-do list. Sometimes the most distracting thing is my own brain and all the other to-dos that are in there vying for my attention. When that happens, a “brain dump” is always helpful.

I write down everything I have to do, from cutting Buddy’s nails to creating a new opt-in funnel, and then I prioritize it. Once I know what’s really important, it’s easier to focus on the current task.

Limit open apps. I love my Mac and its ability to have several virtual desktops open all at the same time. A swipe to the right on the trackpad brings up my browser, and a swipe to the left shows me Evernote or (ironically) OmniFocus.

The trouble is, I don’t need any of those apps when I’m in writing mode, but there they are, just a swipe away. Now, before I begin my focused writing time, I close anything I’m not going to need.

Block distracting websites. I use an app called Freedom to block social and news sites from 6 AM until 11 AM every day. That’s my prime writing time, and I don’t want to wander down any Reddit rabbit holes that will only waste my time—no matter how interesting they might be.

Close unnecessary tabs. Remember when browsers only had a single window available? Tabs are a great innovation, but they’re also incredibly distracting. I am ruthless about closing them. There’s nothing there that I won’t be able to find again when I need it, but if it’s something I want to be sure not to lose, a bookmark is a better choice than leaving the tab open.

Finally, one thing I’ve learned is that when I’m really having trouble focusing on a task, it pays to ask, “Should I be doing this at all?” Many times, my distracted brain is trying to tell me I’d be better off outsourcing that project and just getting it done, rather than continuing to fight with it.

If that’s rings true for you, I want to invite you to check out my Outsourcing Success Plan training. In it, you’ll discover the right way to bring on new team members, and how to do leverage their skills to earn even more profits.



  • Kelly says:

    Every time I complete a project, it triggers ritual that includes cleaning my desk/home office space and my computer desktop – and then I do a brain dump. WIthout this ritual, things pile up and slow me down big time.

    AND HELL YES to the tabs thing! I can’t fathom how people think straight with dozens of tabs open on their browser. People tell me ‘It works for me’ and I think ‘But does it tho?’

    • Cindy says:

      I love that post project ritual. I can see how that would help keep things neat and tidy and low stress.

  • Pamela says:

    Some great tips, I actually do these myself…however the cleaning up of my space has taken a hiatus from my house…this is one thing I need to concentrate on doing today!

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