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Identify what matters most and hyper focus

Published on July, 30th 2018
By Greg Wells

Here’s one of the biggest tips I offer people who want to amplify their performance: identify what matters to you the most and go after it with everything you have. It’s the path to optimal performance, wellness and joy. Avoid spreading yourself around and letting your time and energy drain away. Decide what you want to accomplish and get on with it.

I’ll give you an example.

A school board recently invited me to give a talk at night to a gathering of parents about lack of focus among students. At one point, a parent put up her hand and said, “My child is working until 11 o’clock at night. It’s disrupting her sleep. It’s getting in the way of other activities. This is a huge problem.”

I could tell from her vibe that she was trying to angle the room towards blaming the schools for giving too much homework. As in, “How is my child supposed to sleep if the school gives so much work?” She didn’t say it, but you could tell that’s what she had in mind.

I know there are lots of variables to consider and understand with this issue, but in that moment I wanted to challenge the audience to see it in a new way. So I said, “If your child is up until 11 or 12 at night doing homework, they’re mismanaging their days. They’re not doing things the right way.”

The mother was super offended. I get that. She thought I was calling her out in front of this big group of parents. But it had to happen because the worst thing she can do for her kid is to deliver any message other than, “You have choices, you have control, you need to figure out how to get it done.”

Obviously, I can’t speak for that particular student, but I have had hundreds of conversations about focus with students, parents and teachers. So many kids are doing homework while on Snapchat, listening to music, or chatting with their friends over FaceTime and Skype. As a result, they take three hours to do what should probably take 40 minutes.

Scattered attention isn’t just an issue with teens. Most adults have the same problem.

Do one thing at a time. Figure out what is important to you – in the moment or day or month or year – and focus on it. Engage in single tasking, allocating your attention to one thing at a time, so you enter a state of hyper-productivity.

Multi-tasking isn’t a way of doing many things. It’s a way of doing nothing.

The same goes for your personal life. Now, when I go to the park with my kids, I leave my phone at home. If I want to take pictures, I bring along my DSLR, and the kids and I take pictures together. Other times, I don’t take the camera and focus on just being in the park with my kids. The same goes for family gatherings like dinner. We don’t have devices near the table or in the room. We put them out of sight, so we can focus on each other and making that meal matter.

By creating times when technology is not in the mix, you then get to decide when you want to soak yourself in it. Take an hour and connect with friends. FaceTime with somebody you haven’t spoken with in a while. Use the device to learn. Find a cool article to read. Follow somebody interesting on Instagram who inspires you, like I did recently when I started following Sasha DiGiulian, an incredible climber who’s inspiring hundreds of thousands of little girls to live a life that’s challenging and fun.

It’s about intentionality. It’s about connecting with life. It’s about performing at your very best in whatever it is you care about the most.

Here are two tips for how to make it happen:

Win the morning: If you control your morning, it sets up your day in a very different way. Instead of waking up and checking your email or checking social, wake up with your phone nowhere in sight and do something for yourself like a workout, meditation, or gratitude journaling. Then strategize about how you want to do the day and set the wheels in motion to make it happen. Have a smoothie or uber-healthy breakfast, connect with your family and then head out the door to implement your plan. Own your morning. Make it your morning, not someone else’s.

Separate work from distraction: Plan your time so that you work for a 90-minute block followed by 30 minutes of distracted drifting. Deep focus for 90 minutes, then deliberate recovery and regeneration. By planning your time, you will amplify your work, enjoy your downtime and find that your overall performance and wellness improve dramatically.

I hope you enjoyed this article!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

And my new book – The Focus Effect – is available at this link.

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