There is no shortage of distraction in life. If you're trying to focus on work, your family needs your attention. Try to focus on family, and the duties of the job get in the way. People load up with hobbies and trips and learning and aspirations and TV and Internet surfing and video games and social media. And then there are all those distractions caused by elements outside of your control, like news and politics and bureaucracy. It's really quite amazing that anyone ever gets anything done at all.

But some people know how to work through all that distraction. They tune it out and focus tightly on the person or task in front of them. These are the people whom you admire because they make you feel worthy of their attention. The work product they create has depth and thought. Well, you don't have to just admire these people. You can learn from them as well. Here are eight things they do to focus.

1. Clear the noise

You live in an overstimulated, noisy world. It can easily take control of you. People who focus start by controlling their environment. Set up space that is conducive to the task at hand. Not just your physical environment but mental as well. If you are focusing on a work project, get rid of the beeps and dings of notifications. If trying to focus on people, turn off your smartphone. Remove everything that is not helpful to your objective.

2. Create a plan.

If you don't know what to do first, you'll waste time and energy. Really focused people always have some sort of plan to follow. They have a clear picture of where they're going and a reasonable idea of how to get there. Set up a structured path for your objective. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It could be just a few bullet points in an email. That way when you veer off course, you can quickly reset and get back on track.

3. Set up clear compensation.

A big part of being unfocused stems from being unmotivated. Really focused people clearly understand why they are engaging in any form of activity. Determine early on what's in it for you so that you are excited about the task at hand. Create a reward for completion to help yourself become accountable and make the task a priority over all other distractions.

4. Create routine.

Being disorganized can cause distraction, stress, and inefficiency. Really focused people don't allow mess and chaos to get in the way of their objectives. If you are not good at organization, enlist someone who is. Give everything its proper place and home. Control the things you can control so you can be free to deal with the things you can't.

5. Work methodically.

With so many projects and tasks to accomplish, it can be tempting to try to multitask and get everything done at once. Really focused people know that multitasking is a sure way to accomplish less work. And the work you do accomplish is lower quality--and takes more time. Schedule your day to compartmentalize projects so you can give them your complete attention. That way, your thinking can be robust and thorough.

6. Live in the now.

History has value for learning, and the future is worthy for guidance, but all progress happens in the immediate. Focused people are present in the moment. It's important to pay respect to lessons from before, and the vision of where you are going, but you need to be hyper-aware of what is happening around you right now, or you may miss your preferred destiny and end up with a regretful past.

7. No Second Guessing.

One of the most distracting activities in life is comparing yourself with others. It's very tempting to use others' achievements and progress as a measuring stick for your own, but the reality for everyone is different. Really focused people know that too much worrying about the performance of contemporaries drains much-needed energy and inhibits effort. In fact, get lost in the affairs of others and you might forget to focus on yourself at all.

8. Embrace failure.

It's tempting to assume that setting attainable goals means that you will most certainly accomplish everything on your agenda. Disappointment in missing the mark eats up energy that can be used to get things done. Really focused people quickly assess their failures to learn from their bad assumptions and actions. Then they make the adjustment and get right back to achieving and accomplishing on the path to success.

Published on: Oct 3, 2014
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