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When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet once met at a dinner where they were asked to identify what attributed to their success by writing it on a napkin.
The story goes that they both wrote down the same one word answer: “focus”.
When I first heard this story, I was devastated.
Focus and time management have been a thorn in my side since I can remember.
The doctors called it ADD and threw me on medication when I was in the third grade. I have always resented them for it. My dad called it not paying attention and punished me in various ways when I didn’t get my shit done. I always struggled in grade school despite my teachers and all the other adults in my life praising my wild potential while also voicing their disappointment that I couldn’t finish my homework or tests in a timely manner.
Through college, my early days as a professional and my first attempt at a career at the Dallas Morning News, it was always a constant battle to keep myself on track. I honestly don’t know how I did it.
I think it was all about mentality. And it was something that no one ever tried to teach me about. Something I think that we’re not taught growing up, but that all of the greatest and most successful humans have learned.
Shifting my mentality and the way that I think about the things that I do to own them and to be grateful for them.
As an entrepreneur, now, I’m doing my own work, and I’m so grateful for it. But I do think that this shift in mentality would have helped me with focus long long time ago and that it could help everyone doing all kinds of work. Any job that you have can be your own work, you just have to convince yourself of that.
Instead of approaching the tasks I complete as things that I “have to do”, I’ve started viewing them as things that I “get to do” or that I “have the privilege/honor/blessing of having the opportunity to do”.
Gratitude. This has changed everything.
Now, everything on my to-do list gets smashed. It’s incredible.
I cannot overstate the impact that this has had on my life. Everything I do now, I do because I want to and because I choose to and because I have the amazing privilege to. For that reason, I have no problem focusing.
Gratitude in my experience has been the key to my ability to focus. And just like WB and BG mentioned, it has allowed me to achieve a level of success in a very short amount of time (growing a business from nothing to $10k a month in less than 3 months) and I cannot wait to see what I will be accomplishing throughout the course of the next few decades because of it.
So here’s three things that you can do right now to help you focus, whether you work for yourself and love what you do every single day or work for someone else and dread going to work, or anywhere in between. Because we all know, that if Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both said that it was the key to their success (success that is worth a total of $164.1 billion) then it’s probably pretty important. Remember, what I’m saying in this blog is that GRATITUDE is the key to better FOCUS.
Tomorrow, when you wake up, before you get out of bed to get ready for work (however you do so), tell yourself: “I get to go to work today”. Keep in mind, some people do not get to go to work, but they would really love to be able to do so. This will help to position your mindset in a way that advises the rest of your day.
Give yourself tangible things that you want to accomplish that day and WRITE THEM DOWN. The best way that I’ve found to do this is to create three big goals to accomplish each week and then break them down into smaller to-dos for each day. It also really helps if you give yourself time limits for each such as, “I’m giving myself x hours to do this/these thing/s and for those x hours I’m doing this and nothing but this.”
Example: (This example is for a business owner who is trying to drive more traffic to their online presence and ultimately drive sales, which can be very time consuming in the scope of also running a business). This formula, though, of breaking down weekly goals into daily goals, can be applied to anything or anyone who wants to be more productive.
Week goal: “This week I want to have 3 blogs written with 3 videos recorded for them with email, facebook, instagram and twitter versions of each blog to be distributed for the next week:
This can be broken down into daily to-dos as part of the overall goal.
- Outline all three blogs: 2 hours, 15 minutes (45 minutes for each)
- Main focus of the blog or agenda (to be reflected in the title)
- main points or sections
- Details to be expanded upon in each section
- Here is an example of this blog outlined
- finish writing and editing one blog completely: 1 hour
- Outline all three blogs: 2 hours, 15 minutes (45 minutes for each)
- Finish writing and editing another blog: 1 hour
- write the social media posts for each: 2 hours
- Fill in the outline for another one of the blogs
- Take quotes or tidbits from each blog and make them into social media posts with the goal of getting people to click on them.
- Finish writing and editing the last blog: 1 hour
- Edit each blog down into email versions in a separate google/word/whatever you use to write document: 20 minutes
- Schedule two of them all into your social media/email/website publisher scheduling app: 2 hours
- If you finished it all: TREAT YO’SELF (see below)
- If you didn’t finish it all: DON’T TREAT YO’SELF and finish that shit.
You just got an extra 9 hours and 35 minutes worth of work done this week.
Note: I have no idea how long it takes you to write a blog and those times are completely arbitrary and were used for the purpose of giving you an example of how to form that to-do list.
Give yourself rewards and consequences, just like good parents. If you finish and accomplish all of the things that you wanted to accomplish that week, TREAT YO’SELF. If not, DON’T TREAT YO’SELF. At the beginning of the week (or even day if you’re really new to this idea and want to get started slow) give yourself something to look forward to at the end of the week that you will really enjoy if you get all of your stuff done. The key here is to deprive yourself of it if you do not accomplish everything you set for yourself.
Here’s an example: If you’ve got a romantic partner, maybe schedule a date night Friday or Saturday night that you can both be excited about. This is a really good one because it causes you to be held accountable by someone else. And make sure they know that if you don’t get your shit done, y’all aren’t going on that date and BE HONEST. If you don’t want to spend money to treat yo’self, which I fully support either approach, maybe make a Netflix and Chill night. But you don’t get to chill if you don’t get your shit done. For a more adult approach to this type of example, apply this idea to your personal rewards system.
If you don’t have a romantic partner, or this does not interest you, find something else fun and cheap to do for yourself.
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