Focus with Skill


“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.” — Tony Robbins

Focus is your friend.  You just need to know how to play well together.

Focus is the key to finishing what you start.  It’s also the key to getting results from the time you already spend.    It’s also one of the most precious assets that you can learn to better direct in the information age, where attention is a premium currency.

Your focus is up against a lot in today’s world.  There are plenty of interesting distractions, attention thieves, and bright and shiny objects that compete for your attention.  To make it worse, your internal distractions are actually more seductive than the external ones.  Internal distractions include anything from internal conflict, to competing priorities, to your mental chatter, worries, and doubts.

If you can master your internal distractions, everything else is a piece of cake.  That’s how you lead yourself with skill from the inside out.

Equip Yourself for the Rest and the Best of Your Life
For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume you’re ready to begin your adventure and learn how to focus with skill.  Better yet, let’s assume you’ve been down that road before and you want some truly powerful methods and techniques for making things happen.  Let’s also assume that you want all the rich rewards that come from your ability to focus, whether it’s simply reaching your goals, getting in great shape, making your dreams happen, or nailing things at work.  To help you on your journey, I’m going to equip you with some of the best methods and techniques for improving your focus.

Proven Practices for Improving Your Focus
Explore the Focus Guidelines at   What I recommend is reading the first part of the article that provides key issues and key strategies for focus.  Next, scan and skim the focus guidelines to familiarize yourself with the one-liner reminders.  Lastly, read through the guidelines and identify three that you can immediately put into practice.  The beauty of building your focus as a skill is that it immediately starts paying you back.

The Focus Guidelines at a Glance
Here is a list of the guidelines.  For an explanation of each guidelines visit Focus Guidelines at

  1. Apply concentrated effort.
  2. Ask yourself, “What are you rushing through for?”
  3. Batch and focus.
  4. Bite off what you can chew.
  5. Carry the good forward.
  6. Change your focus.
  7. Choose one project or one thing to focus on.
  8. Clear away external distractions.
  9. Clear away internal distractions.
  10. Create routines to help you focus.
  11. Delay gratification.
  12. Direct your attention with skill.
  13. Do less, focus more.
  14. Don’t chase every interesting idea.
  15. Enjoy the journey and the destination.
  16. Find a way to refocus.
  17. Find the best time to do your routine tasks.
  18. Finish what you started.
  19. Focus in batches.
  20. Focus on what you control and let the rest go.
  21. Give it the time and attention it deserves.
  22. Have a place to dump distractions.
  23. Hold a clear picture in your mind of what you want to accomplish.
  24. Have a time and place for things.
  25. Keep it simple.
  26. Keep your energy up.
  27. Know the tests for success.
  28. Know what’s on your plate.
  29. Know your personal patterns.
  30. Know your priorities.
  31. Learn to say no – to yourself and others.
  32. Limit your starts and stops.
  33. Limit your task switching.
  34. Link it to good feelings.
  35. Make it easy to pick back where you left off.
  36. Make it relentless.
  37. Make it work, then make it right.
  38. Master your mindset.
  39. Multi-Task with skill.
  40. Music everywhere.
  41. Narrow your focus.
  42. Pair up.
  43. Pick up where you left off.
  44. Put the focus on something bigger than yourself – for the greater good.
  45. Reduce friction.
  46. Reduce open work.
  47. Reward yourself along the way.
  48. See it, do it.
  49. Set a time frame for focus.
  50. Set hard deadline goals.
  51. Set time limits.
  52. Set quantity limits.
  53. Shelve things you aren’t actively working on.
  54. Single-Task.
  55. Start with why.
  56. Stop starting new projects.
  57. Take breaks.
  58. Take care of the basics
  59. Use lists to avoid getting overwhelmed or overloaded.
  60. Use mantras and one-liner reminders.
  61. Use metaphors.
  62. Use milestones for checkpoints and progress.
  63. Use mini-goals.
  64. Use reminders and visual cues.
  65. Use the Rule of Three
  66. Write down your goals.
  67. Write down your steps.
  68. Write down your tasks.
  69. Write down your thoughts.

Note that if you already use Getting Results the Agile Way, you’re already automatically using many of the key practices.  They are baked into the system.  Focus is the secret sauce behind The Rule of Three, Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection, and Hot Spots.

Sharing is Caring:Share on Facebook1Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest1Buffer this page

9 Comments on "Focus with Skill"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sibyl says:

    J.D. Thanks for this information it is really helpful. I think you are right that focusing can be one of the most challenging things. Even if we are dedicated and work hard, it can be hard to continually maintain our focus. I do think we need an approach that we can rely on. This information does an amazing job of pointing us in the direction we need to be.

  2. JD says:

    @ Sibyl — I was actually surprised by how many strategies unfolded as I focused on focus. It’s true that what you focus on expands — it happened right before my eyes.

    I want everybody to be fully equipped to tackle their worst challenges and have the power of focus on their side.

  3. Sandra / Always Well Within says:

    J. D.

    Your emphasis on weeding out internal distractions is very wise. Mindfulness and meditation is good in that regard. I definitely need to improve my focus and greatly appreciate your suggestions. “Batch and focus” is one of my favorites. Thanks J.D.

  4. Dia says:

    Hi JD,

    Excellent about about how to focus. I agree with you that if we overcome internal distractions, then we have done more than 90% of the work to be focused. Focus is a skill, the more we practice, the better we become at it. The key for many people is to start focusing on what they do want, instead of what they don’t want. If we do this in life, our lives would be a lot more prosperous and healthier. Thanks for sharing

  5. John Sherry says:

    Wow, never seens so many focus points in one list before JD – that required focus in itself. For me focus is no use without R&R i.e. Reflecting and Responding. Over focusing can resist updated incoming information which brings everything together, solves missing pieces, or shows flaws in the plan. Focus first but take the breaks to leave the ever working mind to digest for your best. It’s the No.1 affiliate product and passive income creator in the world!

  6. Hey J.D.
    This is excellent. In LOA work, we always talk about focus – what you focus on, becomes your reality. But what most of us don’t realize is how unpracticed we are at it and how scattered our minds really are. Those who begin to meditate often find it really difficult to keep their minds from wandering all over the place. But it’s a skill that can be learned and mastered.

    Thanks so much for “focusing” on this topic (pun fully intended). :)


  7. Patricia says:

    Focusing is so vital to me and my work – and planned distractions.

    I am in the middle of preparing dinner for 8 members of my book group…I get so distracted by wanting everything perfect then I thought of your post about ARETE and came back to see what you were sharing today :) Just right…the dinner will be excellent and this was a great distraction to cancel the perfectionism thinking.

    I do say I am amazed at how well I batch things…but I maybe a bit over organized

    Thanks again JD for your great wisdom and sharing it

  8. JD says:

    @ Sandra — I’m a fan of meditation — I think it’s a great way to make our minds more capable, and ourselves more receptive.

    @ Dia — Spot on. Whenever somebody finishes telling me everything they don’t want, I ask them simply what they do want, and it really does shift gears.

    @ John — I like your R&R of reflecting and responding. Great habits for great minds.

    @ Melody — Thank you. You honed right in on the bullseye. Focus can be mastered, if we know what to practice, and we put it to practice.

    I like that you made a punny :)

    @ Patricia — Choosing how, when, and where we let distractions into our life is a great way to hone our focus.

  9. rob white says:

    Powerful stuff JD. “If you can master your internal distractions, everything else is a piece of cake. That’s how you lead yourself with skill from the inside out.” Indeed agreed – there are a million outside distractions we can blame for fuzzy focus but the root cause always starts with a a muddled mind.