You’re probably not like me. You probably don’t have a problem with staying focused on what you’re doing.

No? You have that problem, too?

Well, I easily get distracted by the busyness of life. Why is my life so busy?

I can tell you that the #1 reason for the excessive busyness in my life is: me.

It’s the same for you, too.

Saying “yes”

One of my problems is saying “yes” to too many things. I don’t like to disappoint people, so I say “yes” to almost everything. What happens? I overbook myself and end up disappointing someone (or several people).

When I have too many things on my plate, I allow my mind to jump between tasks. This loss of focus causes my productivity to drop drastically. I end up spending much more time on things than is necessary.

With the new year coming up, I am looking at what I can do to improve my focus so I can get more accomplished. Or at least do better with the things I accomplish.

1. Evaluate

The first thing to do is to evaluate what you have committed to. This involves writing them down (yes, you remember that thing called paper?) and then deciding the importance of each one.

The importance of something is not the same thing as how urgent it is. Usually we spend time on the urgent things, whether they are truly important or not. At this point, ignore how urgent each one may be.

2. Eliminate

After you decide the importance of everything, see what you can get rid of. This can be either something that doesn’t really need to be done at all or something that someone else can do.

Not everything has to be done by you.

I listen to the 48 Days podcast with Dan Miller, and he talks about a practice he does every year. First of all, he sets his goals for the following year by mid-November. Secondly, he decides that he is going to eliminate 15% of what he’s doing. This allows him to spend that time on the things that matter most.

3. Execute

After you evaluate and eliminate, you should be left with those things that have to be done by you. This list should also be much shorter than the list you started with.

It is now time to start taking care of those things.

One way to figure out which thing to start with is by evaluating what has the highest importance, also considering the urgency of that task.

This, however, isn’t the best way.

Focus in 2015

I have been reading “Procrastinate On Purpose” by Rory Vaden (he and the publisher were gracious enough to provide a galley copy for early review). He opens the first chapter with:

“Everything you know about time management is wrong.”

He approaches the concept of time management from a different standpoint. It’s not different because it’s a different method, but he expands what has been explored before. We’ll be covering more of this in the next episode, but for now, you need to understand that you cannot manage time. You can only manage yourself.

The prominent teaching in time management revolves around a two-dimensional view: evaluating based on importance and urgency. He introduces a third-dimension: significance. This brings how long something matters. And this makes a big difference.

Implementing this will be a great asset to help me focus and put things into perspective. It will help you, too.

Ask Rory Vaden your question

I will have the privilege of interviewing Rory on January 13 for the podcast episode scheduled for January 20. If you would like me to try to ask him a question for you, leave it in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to work it in.

If you would like to get a copy of the book, you can use my affiliate link to get “Procrastinate on Purpose” on Amazon.

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