Do you find it hard to stay focused on a task or your goal?
The majority of us do.
To stay focused isn’t and never was an easy task for the human mind.
It is somewhat natural for your mind to wander around, to get distracted because this is how we, humans, kept ourselves safe in the past. Whatever we did, we needed to pay attention to everything happening around us.
Today the things that are distracting you from what you’re doing are less about survival and more about pleasure or addiction.
Checking every other minute who said what on social media or how many clicks you’ve got on your posts are examples of distracting pleasure and/or addiction.
If this is happening to you, you are not alone. Most of us are getting distracted. It has nothing to do with you as a person, it has even less to do with your character, and it has more to do with how well do you succeed to adapt to the modern world.
The good news is that you can train your mind to stay focused on the important things for you and quiet down the distractions around. Even more, applying a few simple tips on how to stay focused you will teach your mind to find pleasure and get addicted to what you need to do.
Now let’s see the tips I’m talking about and how to apply them.
1.Turn procrastination into your advantage
Maybe it will come as a surprise what I will tell you: procrastination is a plan.
It’s not a good plan, though. It is a plan to worry and stress yourself to the fullest.
How is procrastination a plan?
You can’t procrastinate without making a plan. “I will do it tomorrow this way.” And the next day you will make another plan how you will do it tomorrow in that way.
All this delaying could make you anxious, and then you could end up questioning your ability to do that task or even your character.
How to use procrastination to your advantage?
Make a plan of action. A well thought plan of action. A doable plan. Step by step.
Detailed enough to know at each step what and how you will do it. Set a date to start.
Once your plan is good enough, and you think it’s doable, let it grow on you until the date you set to start.
And this is how you are using procrastination to your advantage: you’re letting the plan to grow on you, to mature and then, on the date you set, simply start.
The most important cause of procrastination is not knowing what and how things need to be done.
Part of not knowing how to do it could be that you don’t know what is the result you want.
For almost everything we want to accomplish, we make a mental picture of how things look when finished.
I remember, a few years ago, I moved to a new house, and the garage was full of stuff. Boxes upon boxes. I tried a few times to clear it up with no success. All I was doing was to move the boxes from one place to another. After a few attempts to clear the garage, I felt overwhelmed and guilty.
Overwhelmed because I though I will never be able to sort things out and guilty because I thought that maybe I’m too lazy. At one point I gave up to even trying. However, every time I needed something from those boxes I spend hours searching and making an even bigger mess.
And then the MOMENT came! You know what moment. That moment when you say enough! “I need to do it now and properly this time.”
I went to the garage and looked.
“What is it that I just can’t sort things out? What is it?”
This question had a simple answer. I didn’t know what I wanted the result to be. I didn’t have a mental picture of a clean, functional garage.
This was the problem all along. My plan of action was too vague for how my mind works.
My mind works more in feeling and words and less in pictures. And I was trying so desperately to fit an image that didn’t exist to the end result.
I changed the approach, and the garage was clean and functional in two days.
How did I do it? I took a piece of paper and wrote down:
- what needs to be in the garage and what not
- how do I want to feel when the garage is cleared up
- what will be the functionality of each section of the garage
- what I will do with the empty boxes
- what will be the place for each item
I said that you can’t procrastinate without a plan. So next time when you notice you’re procrastinating analyze that plan. Is it doable? Is it detailed enough? Does it fit the way your mind works? Do you know what the result should be? Do you really know?
When/ if you are procrastinating is not about being lazy, it’s not about not giving enough attention or importance to that task, and it’s not about your character.
It is about the plan of action you’re making, is it vague, not too well thought of or is it doable, specific and clear?
2. Multitasking is killing your power to stay focused
It is not a question if you are able or not to do more things at the same time. If you try hard and long enough, you will most probably be able to multitask. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.
Multitasking is slowing you down. Plus, multitasking for long periods of time is taking some of your intelligence away and your power to stay focused.
Think this way, if you get used doing more than one thing at the time, your attention is divided into several places. Some of those places will be fun and rewarding and in time you will not be able to do just one thing, just one task because you will feel bored and boredom will kill your power to stay focused.
As I’ve said, is not a question if you can multitask. It is a question about the need to do it, and it is a question of how focused can you be on what you want to accomplish.
There are a few jobs that require multitasking such as being a mother/ father, however even in those circumstances do it as less as possible.
Doing more things at the same time doesn’t mean you are doing more, all the contrary, you are accomplishing less.
Our mind is like a computer. The more tasks you are giving your computer to perform at the same time, the slower will accomplish what you want.
Presumably, you are reading this article because you want to know how to stay focused, and even the core definition of how to stay focused excludes automatically multitasking.
“Focused: directing a great deal of attention, interest, or activity towards a particular aim.”
Don’t be brave by multitasking, be a hero by accomplishing one task at the time!
3. The big action plan
To be able to stay focused on your goal you need a well-designed action plan:
- what is your goal
- what are your resources to accomplish your goal
- the steps needed to get to your goal
- when do you start
- when do you finish
Whatever will be your big plan of action formulate it around these criteria:
- Specific and detailed
- Trusted – you need to trust that what you’re doing is working!
Write down your plan of action and a “to do list” for each day/ step.
Focus your attention on the task at hand. There is no point to get overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done in the future or to panic about how much is left to be done.
Each step, each task should have their own time.
Take care of today, tomorrow will take care of tomorrow
4. Positive daily rituals
The fewer things you need to have on your mind, the easier would be for you to stay focused.
Developing daily rituals is one way of freeing your mind of things you need to do.
For example: making a habit of planning in the evening, the next day’s to-do list, will allow you to start first thing in the morning.
Good daily habits will save you a lot of time and energy. Time and energy that you can use to stay focused on your task at hand.
5. A well-organized space results in an organized mind
The human mind is drawn to notice and to look at all the things we have around.
A clean and well-organized space will allow your mind to focus on your task without unnecessary and useless interruptions.
I was an accountant for many years, and I know what means to work in an organized chaos. You can find all the things you need in record time.
However, your mind will have a hard time to focus because your eyes are constantly drawn elsewhere. Plus, you need to stop from time to time to make space.
6. You have a unique best productive time
We don’t function all the same. Some of us are more productive in the morning, some of us late at night. Find your unique best productive time and use it to the fullest.
If you have a fixed work or studying schedule that is not in your control, you still can find your best productive time for that particular schedule and use it for more difficult tasks.
Be aware of:
If you talk with ten different people, they will advise you in ten different ways.
Some people will tell you that the best way to be productive is to wake up and start working at 6 o’clock in the morning.
Some people will tell you to sleep as much as you want and then start working.
At the end of the day, none of them are right, and none of them are wrong.
You know what’s your best productive time!
If you don’t know yet, experiment a few different schedules and then you will know.
If you experiment, you could discover that you have “the best productive time” different from one type of task to another: working and studying
You might notice that you are: a doer in the morning, creative midday and critical in the evening.
Note: your preference and the best productive time can change over the years.
7. Staying focused is easier when you have fun things to look forward to.
For everything you accomplish, most probably, there is a reward at the end. However, some rewards are coming slowly and after hard work and because of this, the danger to give up midway or to lose your focus is very high.
Celebrate every small accomplishment with something that gives you pleasure, have some fun.
Reward yourself every day with fun things to look forward to. As you make your big plan of action, make your plan for fun as well.
To reward yourself implies to take the credit and the merit of what you are doing right.
We often have the tendency to play down our accomplishments and for this reason, we think we don’t deserve to be rewarded.
Also, you might forget yourself in being focused and by the time you realize it, you will be tired and drained to do anything else, no fun nor work.
8. Set breaks for yourself
As I’ve said at the beginning, it doesn’t come naturally for our mind to stay focused for too long on the same thing; We get self-absorbed, we get distracted, we feel the need to think of so many other things.
For this reason, you have to give your mind opportunities to think of whatever your mind wants to think about.
It is like listening someone to talk. At some point, you want to talk too, not just to listen.listening someone to talk. At some point, you want to talk too, not just to listen.
So, as you make a plan of action and a plan for fun, schedule your break time as well.
If you pay attention of how your mind works you will notice how much time you can focus on your task without getting tired or to feel drained.
For example, you can work focused and productive for 50 minutes and then 10 minutes a break. Or 45 minutes with 15 minutes. Find the time that suits you the best.
The point is that you have to set your breaks to know exactly when you will take the break because as with the fun time you will look forward to your breaks and you will see them as a reward.
In return, it will be easier for you to stay focused on your task for 50 or 45 minutes, knowing that after these minutes, you will have a reward, you will have some time just to allow your mind to wander around.
One way to refresh your mind and improve your mood is to use your break for light physical activities.
9. Pay attention to your body posture when you need to be focused
Your body posture is important and contributes to your power to stay focused because it’s influencing your mental state.
If you stay hunch down, for example, your mind will find difficult to stay positive.hunch down, for example, your mind will find difficult to stay positive.
And you need be positive when you want to accomplish something, you need to be optimistic that is possible for you to complete your task.be positive when you want to accomplish something, you need to be optimistic that is possible for you to complete your task.
Staying focused without a positive mental state is almost impossible.
You can use your body posture to get back on track as well, to regain your focus on what are you doing.
We all have distractions and in today’s world, it’s, even more, difficult to stay focused because we have so many other distractions, not just the tiger chasing you or the sneak that you’ve seen in the corner of your eye.
Today You have emails, people calling you, texting, games and many more.
All these distractions all deterring you from your purpose and are taking your power to stay focused.
Let’s see now how you can deal with distractions.
Start by “planning” your distractions. Everything that you plan will make things much easier for you.
* Emails and texts
There is no need for you to stay all day to answer to emails or texts because that is not your purpose for the day.
Set a time when you answer emails or texts.
Avoid being an email hoarder. As you keep clean your workspace, keep cleaning your email inbox as well. This will ensure that you will not spend unnecessary time to sort out what is important and what is not each time you check your email.
If possible, don’t start your day by answering emails.
Your time is valuable and those people who emailed you can wait until you have the time to reply. If you think about it, that is the point of emailing and not calling: you answer when you want.emailed you can wait until you have the time to reply. If you think about it, that is the point of emailing and not calling: you answer when you want.
* Social media
You could feel compelled to see who is doing what and how. Who gave you a like to one of your posts and who didn’t.
The thing about social media (paying attention to the things that other people are doing or who gave you like or not,) is that it can put you in a negative mental state, let alone the fact that you can get addicted to it.
Just think about it.
You are one person with one life, and you can have thousands of people on your friend’s list.
You probably see each day cuts from the “lives” of few dozens out of those few thousands of people you have on your list of friends.cuts from the “lives” of few dozens out of those few thousands of people you have on your list of friends.
You see and receive mainly exciting things about those people. People rarely will post how bored, uninspired, lazy or unsuccessful they are, right?
This fact can make you feel like your life is so boring, ordinary and totally lacking in excitement.
It can’t feel any other way when you compare the life of one single person to selected frames out of the lives of few dozens selected people.
It is like selecting the best scenes from thousands of movies and comparing them to one other single movie.
For all these reasons, plan how much time you spend on social media and WHEN.
So, from the start you can expect to lose your focus and to feel down if you spend too much time on social media because life is not always red roses and music; life is sometimes boring, sometimes sad, sometimes hard.
I guess you know at least one person that seems to be very organized. Did you notice how are they imposing on themselves this level of order and how they don’t allow others to mess with this order?
They will tell you very clearly their schedule and how you fit in it.
“Don’t call me between [10 and 14].”
“I have a strict diet, and I don’t eat [this].”
“Now, I go home because tomorrow I wake up at 6.00 like every other day.”
Maybe at the beginning, you’ve been annoyed by this way of being because you didn’t feel important enough to this person, but very soon you’ve learned to respect the way he is choosing to conduct his life.
To ensure you don’t get distracted or interrupted by other people, you could do something similar.
Educate people around you how and when they can contact you, how and when you are available to them.
Don’t be afraid to educate people about how you expect to be treated.
As I’ve said, at first maybe, some people will say that you are agnosis for it, but in a very short time they will learn to respect the way you choose to live your life.
They will respect you even more for it, and some people will even envy you for it.
They will say: “Wow! I would love to be like this person. I would like to have the strength of character to say: listen, my time is valuable, please don’t disturb me because I’m working, I’m focused on something very important.”
There is just a small minority of people that can block everything that surrounds them and remain entirely focused no matter what happens around them.
Most of us will be drawn out of focus to pay attention to the things happening around. Our senses are almost always alert and ready to take away your power to focus.
This is most true if, as a child, you did not felt safe. Your mind learned to protect you by being constantly alert which will make staying focused a bit of a challenge for you.
If this happens to you, to get distracted by your surroundings, there are a few things that you can do to reduce the “noise” to the minimum possible:
- Pick an environment where you feel safe.
It is not about being safe; it is about feeling safe. You could lock yourself in a bunker and still feel unsafe.
- Make it so that you will not hear unwanted sounds.
For this, you can use light background music or simply use ear protection.
- Let people around you know that you are not to be disturbed and for how long.
- Close all the windows that you don’t need for your task on your screen.
- Delegate to other people less important things or things that they are willing to do.
I know you know best, and I know that you can do it by yourself. However, if you can delegate, do it. It will help you to stay focused on some more important things.
I believe that we are born with a personal default level of motivation. A default level that we are going back to time and time again.
The two types of motivation:
- the intellectual motivation – you are rationalizing why you want something.
- the visceral motivation – your emotions are calling for you to get that something.
The intellectual motivation
If you find yourself losing your motivation midway, believe me, you are not alone. Most of us are.
This happens because our default level of motivation is not too high to begin with.
You start with enthusiasm, and your level of motivation goes up. Yet, once the novelty and the enthusiasm dissipates, the motivation goes with them.
If you have people around you that seem to ooze of motivation, and they are always on a move, always doing something out of ordinary, let me tell you, they are just a few. They are the exception and not the rule.
If you have the impression that they are the majority is because these are the people that you are noticing.
You will not pay attention to those people that are tired, bored, uninspired, unsuccessful and unmotivated, is it not? Those people will fall into the background, and you will rarely notice them.
You are developing this type of motivation by reasoning. This motivation comes up as a result of “I want, I need” and followed by the “why” you want and need. It comes up into your mind and lives only in your mind.
The intellectual motivation is weak because it’s consuming a lot of your mental energy and focus. And no matter how strong and pumped up you start sooner or later, this type of motivation is going back at its default level.
The visceral motivation.
The best motivation that I found working with people, it’s the visceral, the emotional motivation.
This is that motivation that you feel it somewhere in your body, somewhere else than your mind. Usually, you will feel it in your gut or your stomach.
The visceral motivation is very strong and never ending.
Even after you accomplish what you want, you will not feel tired of it, and you will work further to keep your accomplishment.
When you felt in love with your spouse or someone dear to you, your goal was to get that person into your life. It was a visceral motivation. It was an emotional, powerful motivation. You didn’t get tired of it; you didn’t get bored with it, and you didn’t give up midway. And once you accomplished your goal you still felt that visceral motivation to keep this person in your life.
Or take another example: you wanted to have “the car”. Did you felt the motivation to get it into your mind or somewhere else in your body? Most probably you felted somewhere else because it was a visceral motivation.
The ideal situation will be for you to combine the two types of motivation.
The visceral motivation even though is strong and doesn’t consume too much of your energy, can drive you insane! You can easily go overboard with it and become obsessed with your goal.
The intellectual motivation, apart from the fact that takes too much of your mental energy and focus, it’s short lived. It’s not reliable.
How to combine the two types of motivation and stay focused on your goal.
Start by asking yourself WHY do you want your goal. How will this goal serve you? What will this goal bring into your life? How will your life be enriched by this goal?
Link every reason that you will find to motivate yourself with emotional motivation. Behind any intellectual motivation, can be a visceral motivation.
You can make this connection by imagining yourself in the future after you accomplish this goal. Use all of your senses: visual, auditory, kinesthetic (what will you feel, smell, taste).
You could say that mixing your reasons (what makes sense) with your emotions (irrational desire) is a bad thing. That allowing yourself to be driven by your emotions along side with your reasons will make you weak in front of adversity and challenges.
All the contrary. Your emotions are giving you the visceral motivation needed to get to your goal, and they help you choose. On the other side, your reasoning it’s giving you the tools to get there.
Don’t be afraid to feel.
I had clients that said to me: “I want you to teach me how to stop my feelings. I want to know how to be indifferent to everything.”
Many of us have this wish when it comes to negative emotions.
We don’t want to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, powerless, stupid, rejected, inadequate, frustrated, patronized, angry, sad, manipulated, ignorant, pain… and many other negative emotions and feelings.
We think that not feeling will make us more successful, powerful, wise, smart and even assertive. However, this is not the case.
There are a few studies about people that lost the ability to feel, to emote following a brain injury.
You could expect that these people to have a better life if they don’t have emotions and are guided only by reason. Yet, these people are completely lost in this world. I wanted to say “they feel lost” but they don’t feel lost because they don’t feel anything.
Let’s see how people can get affected by the lack of feeling. We will look at the things that interest us from point of view of staying focused:
- they can’t take a decision
- they don’t know if the person in front of them is a good person or a bad one
- they can’t build and maintain relationships
- they don’t have aspirations and dreams to go towards
- they don’t know what they want
- they don’t know if their actions are offensive or emotionally distressful for other people
- they can’t even spell right
For these people the simple task of choosing a T-shirt, it’s a complete nightmare. For the rest of us, it’s so simple. We go to a shop; we see what we want, we have a feeling about it, and it’s done.
We chose the white one because compared to the black one, the white one gives us a more pleasant feeling.
Even when you think you chose rationally, it’s still the feeling that determines the item you will get.
What we call “intuition” is a cluster of emotions, of feelings that you have based on your past experiences.
So, as you can see, emotions are paramount to a healthy, happy and productive life.
“I don’t want to feel pain.” Then how will you know you are hurt?
“I don’t want to feel powerless.” Then how will you know it’s time to build up you power?
Emotions and feelings are much less the cause or the effect of things that happen to us, and much more they are the symptoms of something deeper.
Don’t be afraid to feel. Your feelings are helping you to navigate the world. Feelings are not the problem; the action, reaction and behavior following the feeling could be.
“I feel angry.” Feeling angry is not a problem. What you do about and with your anger, that counts the most. If you start yelling, smashing things, saying everything that comes to mind, then being angry is definitely a problem. But, if you’re using your anger to find a solution, to put your foot down or to move forward, your anger becomes a positive tool.
If you start yelling, smashing things, saying everything that comes to mind, then being angry is definitely a problem. But, if you’re using your anger to find a solution, to put your foot down or to move forward, your anger becomes a positive tool.
This is not to say it’s a positive thing to have negative emotions. However, when you know how to use your negative emotions in a constructive way, these negative emotions will be less and less powerful, and you will be more and more able to feel the emotion yet, behave in a positive way.
Remember, allow yourself to feel and use your emotions alongside reasoning to stay motivated and focused on your goal.
I will give you now a few emotional drivers that will keep you focused:
- the sense of belonging
- the sense of accomplishing something important
- the sense that other people will benefit from your accomplishment
- competing with your former self “let’s see how much better can I do it today compared to yesterday”
Ultimately, combining intellectual motivation with visceral motivation is making your goal compelling enough to stay focused to get it.
It is the difference between:
“It could be nice to have/get/accomplish”
“Wow! I want to have, get, accomplish this goal. Wow, this is amazing! How can I get it?”
When you desire something badly, you get very focused on it.
To be focused on your goal is definitely a good thing. However being lost in your focus will take some things from you.
Being focused 100% on something means to neglect important people and things in your life.
One of the saddest things in life is to get successful and to have no one to share it with.
Pay attention, don’t put your 100% of your focus, energy, and time in your goal. Leave some time and energy for yourself, for your health, for the people you love and for the things that are important to you.
When you are making your plan of action, take into account the possible losses as well because with almost everything you accomplish you are losing something too.
So, know right from the start what is that loss and if you are willing to pay that loss for your goal.
13. Visualize/ imagine the end result.
Imagining the end result and how is this result enriching your life is a powerful tool to stay focused. It’s helping you to define your plan of action.
Depending on the way your mind prefers to organize your thoughts, imagine your end result in images, sounds or feelings.
14. Balance big dreams with small dreams. Outrageous goals with realistic goals.
It is a good thing to be realistic about your goals. However, from time to time dream big, dream outrageous.
If we all have only realistic, doable dreams and goals, probably the wheel wouldn’t exist, the computer and the internet wouldn’t exist.
If you want to accomplish extraordinary things, you need to set big, outrageous goals as well. Just remember the bigger the dreams, the rare they should be.
15. Take the commitment to finish what you start
As we all know, distractions are everywhere these days.
You could start very enthusiastic on your goal, and then you see or hear about some other extraordinary things you could accomplish, and you lose your focus on your purpose.
Giving up midway on accomplishing your goal for the sake of another goal is like giving up the bird you have in your hand for the bird that sits on the tree.
There is so much choice these days that no matter what you chose to accomplish, what your goal is if you start comparing it with what other people are doing/ accomplishing, your dream will never seem perfect enough or big enough, or extraordinarily enough.
If you have ten people around you, those ten people will come up with new things almost every day, and when you allow yourself to feed on their dreams and aspirations, you can end up feeling like your goal is not great enough, that is not worthy of your time and energy.
Pay attention: you don’t know the insights of what other people are planning, you don’t know all it takes to accomplish those dreams and goals. From outside things could look glamorous and exciting, but from inside things could be a completely different story.
Yet, you know the insights of your goal, of your dream. You know how to make it happen, you know how to get it. Take the commitment to stay focused, to stay on your course and know that the rewards are waiting for you at the end.
Apart from everything else, finishing what you start gives you confidence, self-belief, and self – appreciation, gives you the power to focus on the next dream as well.
Finishing what you start is the best way to built examples of how great you are and how much greater you can be.
16. Respect your time alone
The human is a social “animal”. We crave, we want, we need the company of other people, yet there are moments when spending some time alone creates new opportunities for you, helps you to clarify some things and gives you a well-deserved break from it all.
This “time alone” can be:
- can be whatever give you a mental rest.
Giving your mind the chance and the opportunity to wander around, to just ramble with no purpose is like giving the stage to your mind to say whatever needs to say.
Staying focused is like listening and now is your mind’s time to talk.
Let things just come up by themselves and you could be surprised how many extraordinary, and insightful things will come to your mind in that time alone.
17. Make yourself accountable
Accountability and shame are very powerful motivators. They are great incentives to stay focused and to achieve what you plan to do.
Find some people to be accountable to; family, friends or even people that you don’t like.
You can write a letter to an enemy to shame yourself if you don’t stay on track and this letter will be sent if you don’t accomplish your goal.
This accountability is a bit extreme, I know, but for some people the idea that their enemy will know that they’ve failed and didn’t keep their word, it’s a good enough incentive to keep on moving.
Let’s see now other ways to keep yourself focused by being accountable:
- Join a group of people that aims to accomplish similar things.
- Sign a contract: what you will accomplish and what should happen if you don’t achieve your goal.
- Find a work buddy.
This way to keep yourself focused and accountable is all about collaboration and sharing ideas. Sometimes you can get stuck, and you want to give up because you don’t know what to do. Having a work buddy will ensure that you have a different perspective on things when you need it.
18. Are you afraid of losing brilliant ideas?
It happens quite often for people to lose their focus because they tend to jump from one idea to another.
Has this happened to you? You are very focused on what you’re doing, and a great new idea comes to your mind, and because you don’t want to lose this great idea, you stop and move your focus to that new idea?
When you are productive and focused your creativity, and the clarity of mind will jump in: “look how great you are! If you can work on this project, what about this one [the great new idea]?”
This wouldn’t be such a problem if you stay focused on your goal, but chances are you start thinking about the next great idea out of fear that you might lose it, and you lose/ shift your focus.
For this reason, be prepared to take notes, to write down your new great ideas and possible questions that are coming up along the way.
Writing down your ideas and questions will ensure that you don’t lose the new great ideas and insights, and you remain focused on your current goal. You have the peace of mind that nothing is lost, and you can come back to your great new ideas at any point in time.
I can’t stretch enough how important is to “keep safe” your new ideas. We hate to lose… even ideas.
19. Excitement for the task.
We are pleasure seekers, and instant rewards are driving us the easiest to work on our goals.
Let’s see some examples:
You are not recycling for the fun of it. Are you?
The result will show, maybe, in tens or hundred of years and most probably we will not be here anymore to see that result, to receive the reward.
Why are we recycling then? Why are we, the people living today recycling for a very distant future? It’s because we found ways to link an activity that has no end in our lifetime to an instant reward.
For some people this instant reward is pride. We are proud of our house, our town, country, planet. We are proud of being good citizens, good neighbors, good parents.
For some people, this instant reward is not getting a fine, respecting the law.
In this way, we are making the task exciting, and we think much less or even at all about the end result. The task in itself becomes an instant result or at least, enticing to do it.
If someone wants to lose weight and goes to the gym to exercise, they could find this activity boring, uninspiring and sometimes useless. There is no fun in it! The result comes too slowly.
Instead, if this person finds exercising ways that are fun to do, exercising becomes an instant reward, and the weight loss will be only a bonus.
This is the difference between exercising for the fun of it, not for the sake of losing weight.
You can link any activity or task you have to do with an instant reward. Make your road, your journey exciting for the fun of it.
A positive result, the completion of your goal to be a bonus.
This way you will stay focused, you will feel that you are living in the present moment, you will feel that you work for the present moment and not for an uncertain, distant future.
We rarely can have the certainty that what we set to do, our goal will bring us the huge reward we are expecting.
Yet, our optimism gives us a false sense of certainty. Otherwise, we wouldn’t even start. However, it happens sometimes to work hard and long to accomplish something and at the end to feel disappointed.
I remember when I was a teenager, I went with a group of friends on vacation. The main attraction was a volcanic lake.
Wow! I was so excited! I don’t know what exactly I was expecting to find, but definitely something extraordinary, something out of this world.
Imagine that: a volcanic lake! How fantastic.
To get to the lake, we had to hike through the woods for almost four hours.
All this time, I imagined this amazing lake and how wonderful HAS to be.
Eventually, we got there… I couldn’t believe my eyes! This extraordinary volcanic lake was actually just a pond.
Oh! I felt so disappointed! “A four hours journey for this?! A pond!” But then I remembered the great fun we had on this four hours. So, after all, it wasn’t that bad.
We stood there in silence for a couple of minutes and then concluded that is time to go back to the camp.
It took us another four hours back. We laughed, we played games, we took pictures; we talked, and we picked some flowers. All in all, at the end of the day, we had a great day! Even though our main destination was disappointing, the journey was fun.
It could happen to you to plan a goal, to work hard on it and to get it. But at the end of it to feel that is not such a great accomplishment as you’ve hoped. It is great that you’ve accomplished it, but the result doesn’t change your life as expected.
Bearing this in mind, if the journey towards your goal is great, it’s fun, it’s rewarding, no matter the result, you have only to gain; many things to gain.
Plus, you will feel motivated to challenge yourself sometimes even with goals that don’t promise too much, to begin with, but to give you the greatest rewards at the end.
20. Use technology
Because we are in the era of technology, you don’t have to take this journey alone.
There are so many “helpers” out there to assist you.
These tools are just a few that I’ve selected because they have been successfully used by many people and are working on any operating system and any device.
1. Rescue Time
This tool automatically tracks the time you spend on applications and websites.You can use the detailed reports to have a better picture about how you’re spending your time.
This is one of the most popular tools to manage your tasks and projects online.
You can also use it to collaborate on task and projects with other people.
Because we talked about distractions and because the “loudest” distractions are online, this tool helps you to silence your distractions and stay focused on your task.
Do you remember the fact that we hate to lose…even ideas?
This tool can help you to keep safe your new big ideas and plans so you can come back to them when you will have the time.
21. Be consistent
I can’t stretch enough how important is to be consistent.
You are teaching people when and how is okay to disturb you, to call you, to visit you, to interrupt you, and if you break your rules, people will not respect them either.
If you tell them don’t call me between 10 and 12 and the next day you are the one calling those hours, people will not take you seriously.
Be consistent with your rituals and habits even if it’s Sunday or you are on a holiday because if you stop, it will be hard to pick it up again and very soon you will do it less and less until one day you will notice you’ve given up completely.
To be consistent is all about not setting a negative precedent.
If you give up on your habits and rituals just one time, it’s setting a negative precedent that will take your power to stay focused; it will take away your desire and drive to your goal.
The main criterion of consistency is to set rules that are doable, rules that can be reinforced, actions that can be replicated over and over and over again.
Consistency shouldn’t transform itself into a battle of wills or to become a constant struggle. So, I will say this again, set rules that are doable. Easier at the beginning and harder as you grow.