Wired for focus

When you do something worthwhile, do it with your whole body and mind; be concentrated on what you do. Do it completely, like a good bonfire. Not a smoky fire, burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do. Leave nothing behind (paraphrased from a quote from Shunryu Suzuki)

The internet is an occupational hazard. Just as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon can suck up hours of your life, the internet and our thirst fo knowledge can do the same.

The challenge of running your own business is that it's too easy to get captivated by all the bright shiny objects.

Who are the culprits & what are the warning signs that you might be venturing into bright shiny object (BSO) territory?

I also find BSOs common when seeking a better deal and getting derailed by too many choices, opinions, and contradictory advice.

Fences for focus

Distractions are detours we don't need to take.

To avoid getting derailed by distractions, I turn to the +1 system and work to get myself back on the leader board.

Personally, I find time the best fence for focus. I am creating a printed version of The Unschedule - a concept I first discovered in The Now Habit.

A few reminders:

Music helps me focus

My hyperfocus playlist:

Amazon Prime Music


39 Mins:

The Results Curve

Focus for 25 minutes on a task a time. I use my Alexa for a timer. You can also use this page:

Let's use some call to actions

Simply stay focused on Thought A (see below) until the timer goes off, and then give yourself a break. When a Thought B arrises, jot it down for later.

Following your time in an 'accomplishment zone,' move to the 'collaboration zone.' Here you are the authors notes:

In the Collaboration Zone™, we handle e-mail messages, check voice messages, answer IM requests, and make ourselves available for virtual and in-person interactions. The Collaboration Zone™ can even include a social or private break. The collaborative session can be 10, 15, 30 minutes, or even longer, depending on how much collaborative work is necessary.

The collaborative session can also be energizing and enriching as we find out what went on out there while we were focusing on an individual task. It also brings a healthy dose of realism as we observe and collect data from an ever-changing environment. It helps us get back to our next focused session with a higher level of enthusiasm and better perspective. The collaborative session, together with the focused session, are the yin and yang of success in today’s workplace.

The Killer B's

I love this concept. It's about the significance we assign to a thought that does not concern what we set out to do when we started the 40 minute time block. A Killer B is also where self-doubt creeps in. When we question if what we are working on is the most important thing we should be working on (while we're working on it), it kills your 'accomplishment zone.' It's like questioning if you married the right person after you've already gotten married!

There's also something about how the things we resist persist. It's the nag that the more we ignore thought B, the more it begs for our attention.

Task Hopping

Using a countdown timer discourages task hopping. Without a constant reminder (the timer), our tendency is to hop from one task to another.


I have put a lot of thought into accountability and deadlines.


Using a timer allows us to better gauge time we'd allocate to a task in the future. This year, as I move to a more dedicated role for a smaller number of clients, I will take stock of the time I allocate for each client. VIPs are paying for a larger allocation of my time.


Life is growth and progress. We get hung up in life when we begin to think we are no longer making progress. Living by the timer is a constant reminder that we are making progress as long as we are sticking to the task at hand.


One of the most significant but subtle aspects of the timer is that is wraps a process around our task work. The click of the timer is the guide to stay on task. Just like you wouldn't climb to the top of half dome without keeping a hand on the guide rail. The timer is your guide rail. Each tick of the timer is like someone dropping a toothpick for you to pickup. For the next 40 minutes, you simply step forward and pick up the next toothpick.


How do you get from one end of the Sahara to the other? One oilcan at a time. You can't see the next oilcan until you get to the next. The idea of crossing the sahara is overwhelming, but it's not difficult to simply make it to the next oil barrel.

Plus 1

This is a easy way to get your +1s everyday. The toothpick gets put in your +1 container each time you make it to the end.

Map it out

How do you intend to spend the next 40 minutes? I recommend a main task, and the a checklist of subtasks below. AuthorDock works well for this technique. The beauty of AuthorDock when used for this purpose is that you can look back and see the actual steps you took to complete the task and how long it took. Did it take 1 pomorodo, 2, 3, or more? Is that client taking up more pomodoros than you are charging for?


John Mayer and Will Smith are two examples of creative superstars (who I admire) who dedicated years to their craft to the extent they cut out everything else that would distract them from. I heard that Will didn't go out or have a single drink for 12 years. I once read that John Mayer didn't have a drink until he was well into is twenties. By then, he was already well on his way to super stardom.

Work hard now and enjoy the fruits of your labor later. It's like a plane getting off the runway. Once it hits cruising altitude, it requires less fuel.

Outlines for Focus?

Trust your Gut

Bibliography and Resources

Tools, resources, and further reading

What tips have you found to help you make the most of each day?