If we could focus, we could do anything.
We know that what separates the great from the good is the man-hours put into that craft.
But what isn’t discussed is the ability to DO these things, which results from the ability to focus.
I was watching one of my favorite movies of all time, The Matrix Revolutions (yes, I like all three movies and I think they’re underrated IMO), and towards the end of the movie, where Mr. Smith knocks out Neo, Mr. Smith says:
“Everything that has a beginning has an end.”
I thought to myself “…that’s really true actually”. Not just on a philosophical or grand concept, but just in general. I could apply that on something super simple, like my day-to-day life.
Something has a yin, and something has a yang. My activities start and end.
But we start stuff all the time. And end them just as fast.
In fact, I’d say starting something is the hard part, ending something is the easy part.
But what causes us to stop doing something? Distractions.
Distractions are the destruction of man. If you can focus, then you become more than man.
In our daily lives, distractions are so abundant. Everywhere you go, there are notifications, emails, texts, war on a physical and personal level, political drama, and money pulling you in every direction.
Nowadays, not only are you distracted in every moment, but companies are spending millions of dollars to get your attention.
It’s constant noise and all of it has the purpose to misdirect you from the truth.
The truth in silence and simplicity.
This constant exposure leads to fatigue and we find ourselves looking for a form of meditation.
This meditation is exemplified in forms like TV, Netflix, vices, junk food, anything to take our minds out of, what I call, the “society beehive”.
You cannot become great at something until you realize this truth: you must learn to be alone, in silence, and work.
You have competitors, you have people trying to do what you are doing. What separates them from you, is not talent, but the ability to focus.
But, how does one “get better” at focusing?
I was studying one of my mentors, Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon (duh) and saw some shocking truths.
Not only does he emulate a simplistic lifestyle, but he loves efficiency. I thought…
“Ok, this is a pattern that I am beginning to see between successful people. What can I pull from this data?”
After studying Jeff and other successful people, here are some common patterns.
1. Remove Negative People
There are a lot of people that you interact with on a daily basis. From when you wake up, to when you drive, to who you work with, to family – you are surrounded by people. Sometimes, these people can be negative.
Make a conscious decision – is this person that I am interacting with provide a positive or negative feeling to my well-being? If it’s a negative, cut ties and move on.
2. Remove Clutter
Go through your entire wardrobe, tools, rig, setup, everything you own, and remove everything that has not been touched in 2 years.
You want to not only be mentally light, but physically light. You need space to think and create. Space to move and exist. Simplicity breeds creativity.
3. Automate All Finances
I don’t touch a single thing with my investments or bill pay, as it’s done automatically.
I get a weekly financial update (which is just an email) and that’s about it. Amazon is moving towards this realm at a very efficient pace, to where Amazon is now apart of your life without being intrusive.
I use Mint to monitor all of my finances and investments, and everything is auto-drafted with notifications turned off, meaning all of my bills/finances are done automatically with no thought.
4. Limit Your Communication
If I were available on all forms of social media as well as my email, I would feel overwhelmed. I limit my communication to just email/Facebook chat. I don’t do phone calls/meetings/or anything else.
My inbox only receives emails from my readers and very select subscriptions to other websites.
My phone is usually on silent, and I am pretty unresponsive to texts. I am a fan of the old-fashioned email and IM box (I was on AIM back in the day).
5. Simplify Your Most Used Tools
What does your calendar look like? I emulate a lot of Benjamin Franklin’s calendar.
We have this notion that if you are successful, you must be all over the place, crazy busy, and pulling your hair out.
But, the busier I have gotten, the better I am with time management, and what begins to happen is a simpler lifestyle.
You begin removing stuff that is simply not effective, like notifications etc. My calendar has three things in it, for example –
1:30AM – Pitch
7:30AM – Workout
7:30PM – Write
Do you see how I am not adding things to it? There is no point.
I know when I am going to wake up. I know what I am going to eat. I am giving super simple goals to hit on a daily basis to help build momentum throughout the day.
If I hit these three metrics, I am satisfied. Anything more, I feel even better.
Besides my calendar, my other most used tools are: google docs/drive/sheets. And my most recent one is Buffer.
What is Buffer? Buffer is a fantastic app that allows you to manage and automate your entire social media campaign. This is absolutely a must-have for efficiency. No longer is social media an issue for me because Buffer handles everything for me.
For example, I post something on Facebook. I then have to open up another tab, type in Twitter, go to my profile, go to new post, type in a new tweet, and then press post.
Not only is this a problem with time, but a problem with brain space. It’s hard to stay consistent when things are so spread out.
But, with Buffer, I can do all of this with a click of a button. It saves me tons of time.
6. Remove All Vices and Focus on Health
Do you waste time surfing the web? I do. Here is what I did.
I admitted that I had a hard time controlling it. I will go on a YouTube binge and watch every video from cats to Aliens to Egyptian pyramid documentaries. I love it.
So, when it comes time to work, I use Simple Blocker and block every website that is not conducive to the task at hand.
But what about other vices? Sugar, alcohol, tobacco? Eliminate everything or use in strict moderation.
Diet and exercise are pivotal to my habits. If I eat junk food, then my entire day is thrown off. I will stick to a healthy diet and gym during my working days, and maybe cheat during my off days. But, in summary, eat healthy and go to the gym.
7. When In Doubt, Try Outsourcing
If you can’t do something, either learn how to do it, or hire someone. I usually go for the 2nd half.
I can do pretty much anything if I set my mind to it. But, it’s not a decision of “can I do something”, but “do I have the time to do something”?
I wish this required more writing, but it’s not needed. Jeff, as well as tons of other successful people, follow similar patterns. I wanted to give a very broad and basic outline of these patterns. Over time, we can get more detailed. I know these suggestions sound too easy, but they provide huge results.
And do you see a common trend here?
We aren’t adding things, but we’re removing things. The goal is to not regulate things, but to be ourselves with the addition of our natural tendencies.
We wake up when want to, eat what we want to, and do what we want to. We decide our daily lives and are not controlled by any other factor, whether that be physical, relationship, or mentally related.
Once we get down to a core working model that fits us, something that can be replicated on instinct, that is when we can make it complex or add things.
Most people think that in order to make changes, we have to do more. Instead, we usually have to do less and focus on what’s most important.
What will happen is that you will have explosive amounts of new energy. This energy can be redirected into your tasks and you will be able to rise above the competition.
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