How to stay focused and eliminate distractions

How to Stay Focused in 9 Words

Staying focused is a common problem for us techo savvy 21st century dwellers. There are so many distractions out here in cyberspace we can’t focus on getting the important stuff done. We’re so easily distracted from our goals of personal happiness, business success, exotic travel or whatever it is we want in life.

Planning goals is one thing but how to stay focused on them day after day, eliminate distractions and actually making them happen is another problem.

The growing problem with staying focused

I’m sure the problem of how to stay focused isn’t new. I bet people have always looked for welcome distractions (well, I know I have) and even an 18th Century writer like Charles Dickens could have been distracted from his work by a neighbour popping round, his pen springing a leak or a noisy seagull perching on his fence. Even cavemen probably got distracted. But the number of distractions has got out of control now and it’s time to eliminate them.

The problems really began with television. At first there was only one TV channel and that probably distracted people from their usual lives quite enough. But then another channel came along and so on until today many of us have access to tens of TV channels and some people spend half their waking hours pushing buttons on the remote control and flicking through the entertainment options.

The Internet made things even worse. Just when computers got small and cheap enough that people could buy them for personal use the Internet came along. The Internet is to television what crack cocaine is to tylenol. There are literally billions of pages of information out there vying for our attention and now, with the advent of social media, millions of people who could decide to contact us online.

Even if you get away from the distractions of the Internet and their computer most people still take a mobile phone wherever they go and break off what they’re doing each time it beeps, rings or vibrates.

All these things and the many options available are actually training us to have shorter and shorter attention spans and our quest to find something that diverts us from daily life even if only for a few seconds is becoming more urgent. Isn’t that why people keep emailing each other jokes and stories?

The increasing demand for help with productivity

It’s little wonder that most of us have trouble getting things done.

It’s one of the reasons why Zen Habits about simple productivity is one of the most popular blogs on the Internet. People are crying out for advice on how to eliminate distractions, be more productive and get the stuff they want to do done. That’s why the creator of Zen Habits, Leo Babauta, is one my favourite writers and thousands of people would probably agree with me on that.

Another of my favourite writers and bloggers, Penelope Trunk recently summed up productivity on her blog saying: One thing at a time. Most important thing first. Start now. She wrote a great post about productivity for Get In the Hot Spot a while back too.

But when I went back to Penelope’s blog post I discovered she credited a Life Hack post on productivity and they in turn credited a tweet from some super Twitter users which led me to the original post by Skelliewag. Coincidentally yet another great blog writer who I discovered this week.

If that story doesn’t prove how distracted we are I don’t know what does. We’re at the point where even a writer writing about how to focus gets distracted by tracking something simple down on the Internet because one thing leads to another and another. Before you know it your working day has slipped by and your work output has slipped off.

It’s got to stop and really eliminate distractions or your life will slip by with regrets about the things you wanted to do but didn’t. Here’s the solution.

How to stay focused in 9 words

Identify distractions. Remove them. Remember your long term goals.
That’s it. You know what the distractions are. You know how to stop them from distracting you. You have to keep thinking about your ultimate goals because if you don’t have goals then your life will amount to nothing more than a series of distractions.

I hope these nine words help you. Distractions I’ve eliminated in the past include cooking, cleaning, shopping, TV, drinking alcohol and partying. Of course, I still do all those things, I just keep them in the background where they belong instead of letting them, take over my life and getting in the way of my goals.

Now I’m going to do that with the Internet too so I should reach my goals even faster. I’ll still see you around in Cyberspace of course, just not all the time. I think my readers, Leo, Penelope and Skelliewag will approve. Thanks to all of you for the continued inspiration to be the best blogger I can be.

What distracts you from your true goals? How can you remove those distractions?

Please leave a comment if you have time. Committing it to writing will help you stay on track of your goals and keep those distractions where they belong. That’s partly why I share my plans and problems with you. I’d love to hear what yours are so we can all help each other stay motivated and inspired or share your tips on how to eliminate distractions.

Thanks for reading and being part of the winning Get In the Hot Spot team.

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Photo credit: Ihtatho