I'll be the first to admit that I’ve spent most of my life without focus.
Most days begin in disarray, with the rest of the day spent putting the pieces back together. But there have been days and phases where focus has returned. Beyond sticking to my oft-repeated mantra of doing one thing at a time with enjoyment as the key to productivity, I owe much personal focus to asking practical questions.
As Voltaire once said: “Judge someone by their questions rather than their answers.”
Questions hold tremendous power because they prompt in us our greatest strength as humans: creativity.
Here are some questions you can ask each day to increase your focus and help you prioritize the things that truly matter:
1. What one thing will I make happen within five years that matters more than anything?
Note: See how powerful narrowing it down to a single item is? Most of us make the mistake of giving ourselves too many options, which leads to decision paralysis, confusion and less action. Singularity of focus on one thing, even if there are several other secondary goals, makes life easier and is motivating.
2. What one thing will I make happen within one year that matters more than anything?
3. What one thing will I make happen within one month that matters more than anything?
4. What is one thing I can do to start this day positively that matters more than the rest?
5. What is one thing I can do today that will simplify my life by at least 1%?
6. What will I ensure gets done today that further develops my primary craft/skill/mastery, which matters more than anything else in this area?
Note: Choose something that gets completed in its entirety, such as recording a ten-minute video, reading ten pages of a book, sketching a drawing that takes twenty minutes, 30 minutes of training in the gym, or 500 fiction words written to contribute to your novel.
WHEN EXACTLY WILL THIS GET DONE?
Don’t forget––this is your most important task. This has to be done, so protect the time dedicated to this as a non-negotiable.
7. What are three additional tasks that must get done today, if any, that will make this day worthwhile?
List them in order of importance, starting with the most important at the top. Be aware of your longer-term goals as you do this, so your tasks align with the longer-term vision. Work through them one by one, without distractions. If you start on the hardest one, you will be rewarded with energy that can sustain you through the rest of the tasks.