Focus – 3 Reasons to Do Less For More Success

I sincerely hope you enjoy this blog post, but I’ve gotta tell you – this one is really for me. It probably belongs more appropriately in my private journal than in a public forum.

I have a terrible time with focus. In fact, I don’t even want to focus on one thing. I want to do as many things as humanly possible at once.

I hate to sleep, because it’s the one time when I haven’t figured a way to multitask. Yes, I read my email at the stop lights. Yes, I have a book in every bathroom in the house. Yes, I read Success magazine while I eat.

Now that I’ve gotten my confessions out of the way, I’ll tell you — you will find greater success if you focus on one thing at a time.  If you put your heart and soul and all into it until your one task is 100% complete.

The absolute best teacher on the issue of focus is Thich Nhat Hahn.  I recently finished his book, “The Miracle of Mindfulness.”  One of my greatest take-aways from the book was “when you are washing the dishes, wash the dishes.”

Thich Nhat Hahn beautifully illustrates the how and why of being present in everything you do. No matter how trivial it may seem.

But before I can get to the joy of being fully present when I wash the dishes, I must first learn the basics.

Like how to complete this blog post without getting up to grab a snack, clicking away to my email, trying to listen to a “can’t miss” webinar replay in the background . . .

But why?  Why does focus matter?  Aren’t those who are capable of constant multitasking the most productive, and therefore the ones that find the most success?

No.  In fact, there are (at least) three reasons that focus will bring you more success.  In life, and in business.

First, focus actually saves you time.

Common sense would perhaps dictate that if you can do two things at once you will save time.  What I have found, however, is that focusing on one thing allows you to complete that one project faster. 

It’s like the difference in walking from point A to point B in a straight line, rather than weaving back and forth to your destination.  Each time you turn your attention even for a moment, you have veered off the course and it will take you longer to get to the finish line.

In the worst of all circumstances, you don’t finish your task in one sitting. It’s impossible to then come back and pick it up right where you left off.  It will take you, at the very least, a few minutes to get back to where you left off.  And sometimes, you never really regain your momentum.  And it takes twice as long to finish your project.

So, yes, when you multitask you get two things done.  But chances are you could have accomplished each of them quicker and better if you had tackled them one at a time.

Second, focus makes you feel better.

When you focus on one thing you don’t have to worry so much.  If your only goal for this hour is to respond to all of your email, then you can just do it.  You aren’t worried about trying to answer all the emails, and get your newsletter finished, and update your Facebook page . . .

There’s peace of mind in having one task that can be completed in one block of time.

And, if you are focused, you are going to complete more.  You won’t have four unfinished projects you are juggling.  You’ll have one finished project and a clear picture of the next project that’s in line.

Checking that one thing off of your “to do” list has an unbelievable “feel good” factor.

Third, focus means you reach your goals faster.

Focus allows you to be more organized.  Each success goal you have can be broken down into a series of small steps.  If your goal is to get to the top of the building, focus allows you to walk decisively up one flight of steps.  Which brings you one floor closer to the top.

A lack of focus, on the other hand, is like being on one of those stair-steppers at the gym.  You keep walking up those revolving stairs, yet you get no higher – no closer to your success goal.

With these three benefits in mind, my focus this week is on focus.  I’ll let you know what amazing results I see.

I’d love to hear from you below.  Do you struggle with focus?  If not, I’d love to know how you do it!  If so, let me know how you plan to implement my suggestions so that you can save time, feel better, and find success faster!

15 Comments

  1. I loved this, Jennifer. It really resonated with me.It is spot on…if you Focus on 1 thing at a time, you will actually get more done. I will be definitely coming back to read this again and again as a friendly reminder, thank you. 😉

    Reply
  2. Great article Jennifer. I too struggle sometimes with trying to do everything at once. I heard this great acronym for Focus that I keep struck to my monitor to help remind me to stay focused.
    Follow
    One
    Course
    Until
    Successful

    Reply
  3. I totally needed that today! I at time can become very focused but life gets so busy that I get pulled to many directions and then lose focus. Thanks

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  4. Love this article Jennifer! Just what I needed to hear today! Thanks for sharing this! It’s time for me to go Focus on one thing, instead of everthing at one time! Thanks again!

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  5. Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for your timely blog on focusing on one task. As a small business owner, I wear so many hats and try to do so many things. Multi-tasking is my middle name. I will definitely try to focus on one thing starting now. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  6. I loved your comment about hating to sleep because you can’t multi-task. That’s so me.

    I have been working on focus lately. I’ve learned that mutli-tasking only makes your desk messy and your brain foggy. I get so much more done when I focus on one task at a time–and I’m sure my blood pressure prefers it, too.

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  7. Multi-tasking should really be called minus-tasking; each thing you add takes something essential away! That being said, I have found that it can actually be fun to embrace and alternate my ADHD type personality (Leonardo Da Vincii was classic ADD…and if he had only focused on being an inventor, we might have missed out on his Last Supper!) with single-minded 100% commitment to each moment I am in (in hot yoga, where it’s 105 degrees, I can barely focus on anything else…and oh, how those stressful thoughts melt away when I pay them no mind). It can be fun to try on to see what fits best on any given day…with each new day, a new focus.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this here, Jennifer! One step at a time…. one task at a time…

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  9. My, Jennifer. How did you know? This has been ME! But – as I have taken a few days off to reflect, I’m back with a better focus, a clearer idea of what I want & don’t want. I am i lliminating a lot of NOISE! 🙂 How timely is your post… x0x
    Norma Doiron

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  10. Love this…especially because I’m writing on focus this week too. I think parenting really shows how dysfunctional multi-tasking can be! When the kids don’t get all of me they aren’t truly ok. And my work suffers when I try to do house, kids, hubby, self and work all at the same time.

    Thanks for sharing openly–it is such a comfort knowing others struggle with focus too!

    Reply
  11. I have read that women are better at multi-tasking than men are. Personally I tend to focus on one task at a time to complete it. The book sounds insightful and I love the title. I have not mastered the art of being fully present because I can be easily distracted and it takes lots of mental energy to refocus.

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  12. OK Jennifer, CONFESS! Have you been shadowing me as I go about my day? Holy Cow! You described me to a “T”! This is definitely one I struggle with. For instance, right now I’m “taking a break” from writing so I can comment on your blog – talk about irony! Ok, BACK to writing, I get it! 🙂

    Reply
  13. Hi Jennifer. You are SO right. Focusing is very helpful and a huge time-saver. I think when we are involved with SO many different things we all become a little frazzled! Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply
  14. Love your article and as I meditate every single day for one hour a day, without exceptions – I can tell that nothing can help more. Mind doesn’t like emptiness and focus, it likes to wonder everywhere, however once you can train your mind life becomes a playground! Nothing can be harder than get your mind under control! Thanks a lot for sharing and have an amazing mindful time Jennifer!!

    Reply
  15. Hi Jennifer. Great Post. I agree that focus is necessary for making sure that everything gets done that needs to get done. However, I would suggest that “prioritizing” one’s tasks is necessary in order to apply focus adequately throughout one’s day.

    For instance, one should identify which tasks in their schedule are critical in moving forward in accomplishing mission sensitive goals, and an extreme amount of focus should be allocated to those tasks, in order to accomplish them on a timely basis.

    However, there are some activities (like checking email) where you must be mindful of the priorities that remain in your day’s schedule, but you should be less focused so you can adequately respond to potential proplems (family things, customer service issues, etc.) as well as potential opportunities (like exploring the possibility of beneficial relationships with entrepreneurs that inadvertently appear within your inbox, as well as reading and posting comments on their blogs). 😉

    I have found that I am most efficient when I take the time at the end of the day to schedule and prioritize my “To Do List” for the next day, then get my priority projects out of the way first, before moving onto tasks where I can allow more latitude in the amount of focus required.

    Great blog!

    Reply

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