How a Tighter Focus Yields Better Results

And 6 things you can do right now to be more focused

Do you have a stack of unread books? An inbox full of email? Life seems to pile up faster than we can absorb, but what if that pile was our own doing? Most of us see ourselves as victims, but really we’re the perpetrators. We put ourselves in this mess, and we can get ourselves out of it.

In 2016 I added 38 books to my reading list, purchased 15 (only half of which were on my list) and only read 15. My pile keeps getting deeper, and most of the books I bought I still haven’t read!

So this year, one of my resolutions is to not buy any new books until I read the ones I already own. And when I do read those books, I’m going to really read them. I’m going to take notes on the thoughts and ideas that I think are useful to apply to my life.

I’m going to intentionally give attention to less and go deeper into those few things I do focus on. Sound like something you could do?

from Greg Mckeown's book Essentialism

from Greg Mckeown’s book Essentialism

We only have so much energy to spend, and the more focused we are in spending it, the greater the results.

We should remember this in our relationships, work, hobbies, exercise, diet, technology use, the shows we watch, etc. It seems that every year there’s a new show we have to watch, another person we must meet, a book we should read, a restaurant we should visit. But you know what happens when you don’t see all of those new things? Nothing. You don’t miss as much as you think, and you’ll actually get more out of what you do spend your time on.

A Productive Life

A productive life is like a bountiful garden. If you plant too many seeds in your garden at one time, they’ll choke each other out and nothing will thrive. But if you focus on a few well placed, nurtured, and watered seedlings you’ll get an incredible yield.

The same thing applies to our habits in life.

To produce a really awesome garden, you have to rearrange the raw materials of the ground to make them more productive. A good gardener knows that the chemical balance of the soil and the quality of the inputs you use will make a significant difference in the yield that comes from your crop.

So just as a gardener rearranges the raw materials in their garden, you can rearrange the elements in your life to make it the most productive. What habits can be removed from, injected into, or modified in your life to make it more productive? Relationships? Work? Recreational activities? Exercise? Diet? Materials you read or consume via a screen? All of them are inputs to your garden of life and will determine the output.

6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Be More Productive

  1. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t read. The more noise there is in your inbox, the more likely you are to look at stuff that doesn’t deserve your attention (that includes mine, I won’t be offended if you unsub).
  2. Cancel magazine subscriptions you don’t love. Do your magazines just pile up on a shelf? Quit wasting money and reduce the clutter in your space.
  3. Eliminate channels you don’t watch from cable. According to a Nielsen report, the average household had 129 channels in 2008, and 189 in 2013 (a 45% increase). But over that 6 years, people only watched an average of 17 channels!
    • Eliminate TV all together? Two years ago we ditched the actual TV from our house. It’s been the most productive two years of my life. I dare you to try it.
  4. Ditch some social media. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr, Reddit, Vine… Most people have more profiles than they need, so think about where you hang out the most often and ditch the rest.
  5. Focus on fewer goals. How many new year resolutions did you set this year? Stick with 3 or less to get the most success.
  6. Work on fewer projects. Get off the projects that don’t absolutely require your undivided attention. If you’re just helicoptering in every once in awhile on a project, drop it. Let someone else handle it.

There are always new things, good things even, that pop up and demand our attention – this will never cease to be a problem. But when we are constantly consuming, we don’t have time to produce. There must be a balance of supply and demand, input and output, planning and delivery.

Question for you... How many emails come to your inbox that you don’t actually read? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “How a Tighter Focus Yields Better Results

  1. I absolutely love this – and in fact I just did this very thing yesterday. Its so important to stay focused in life and goals and cut out all the stuff in life that is just “filler”
    Great post Kyle

    • I’m so glad to hear that you did this Tina! For me it seems like once a year is the “big cleanup” and every quarter is the regular maintenance.

    • I’m so glad you did this Tina! For me it seems like things slowly build up after I do a big purge. I’m working on a more regimented quarterly cleanup, I guess all I need to do is set a reminder 🙂