How To 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.

Focus is also one of the most precious assets that you can learn to better direct in the information age, where attention is a premium currency.

Our Focus Gets Tested

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.

Improve Your Focus with Proven Practices

Explore the 101 Proven Practices for Focus.   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.

101 Proven Practices for Focus at a Glance

Here is a list of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus:

  1. Align  your focus and your values
  2. Ask new questions to change your focus
  3. Ask yourself, “What are you rushing through for?”
  4. Beware of random, intermittent rewards
  5. Bite off what you can chew
  6. Breathe
  7. Capture all of your ideas in one place
  8. Capture all of your To-Dos all in one place
  9. Carry the good forward
  10. Change your environment
  11. Change your physiology
  12. Choose one project or one thing to focus on
  13. Choose to do it
  14. Clear away all distractions
  15. Clear away external distractions
  16. Clear away internal distractions
  17. Close your distractions
  18. Consolidate and batch your tasks
  19. Create routines to help you focus
  20. Decide to finish it
  21. Delay gratification
  22. Develop a routine
  23. Develop an effective startup routine
  24. Develop an effective shutdown routine
  25. Develop effective email routines
  26. Develop effective renewal activities
  27. Develop effective social media routines
  28. Direct your attention with skill
  29. Do less, focus more
  30. Do now what you could put off until later
  31. Do things you enjoy focusing on
  32. Do worst things first
  33. Don’t chase every interesting idea
  34. Edit later
  35. Exercise your body
  36. Exercise your mind
  37. Expand your attention span
  38. Find a way to refocus
  39. Find the best time to do your routine tasks
  40. Find your flow
  41. Finish what you started
  42. Focus on what you control
  43. Force yourself to focus
  44. Get clear on what you want
  45. Give it the time and attention it deserves
  46. Have a time and place for things
  47. Hold a clear picture in your mind of what you want to accomplish
  48. Keep it simple
  49. Keep your energy up
  50. Know the tests for success
  51. Know what’s on your plate
  52. Know your limits
  53. Know your personal patterns
  54. Know your priorities
  55. Learn to say no – to yourself and others
  56. Limit your starts and stops
  57. Limit your task switching
  58. Link it to good feelings
  59. Make it easy to pick back up where you left off
  60. Make it relentless
  61. Make it work, then make it right
  62. Master your mindset
  63. Multi-Task with skill
  64. Music everywhere
  65. Narrow your focus
  66. Pair up
  67. Pick up where you left off
  68. Practice meditation
  69. Put the focus on something bigger than yourself
  70. Rate your focus each day
  71. Reduce friction
  72. Reduce open work
  73. Reward yourself along the way
  74. See it, do it
  75. Set a time frame for focus
  76. Set goals
  77. Set goals with hard deadlines
  78. Set mini-goals
  79. Set quantity limits
  80. Set time limits
  81. Shelve things you aren’t actively working on
  82. Single Task
  83. Spend your attention with skill
  84. Start with WHY
  85. Stop starting new projects
  86. Take breaks
  87. Take care of the basics
  88. Use lists to avoid getting overwhelmed or overloaded
  89. Use metaphors
  90. Use Sprints to scope your focus
  91. Use the Rule of Three
  92. Use verbal cues
  93. Use visual cues
  94. Visualize your performance
  95. Wake up at the same time each day
  96. Wiggle your toes – it’s a fast way to bring yourself back to the present
  97. Write down your goals
  98. Write down your steps
  99. Write down your tasks
  100. Write down your thoughts
  101. Work when you are most comfortable

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.


  1. 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. @ 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. @ 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. 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.

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