How to Choose the ONE Thing To Focus On

The Age of Distraction.

I believe Leo Babauta first coined that phrase, but whoever it was it’s pretty dead-on.

Other than a Buddhist monk I recently met, I’m sure everyone I know struggles with focus.

Whether it’s email, Whatsapp, text messages, Periscope notifications, Pokémon Go (totally understandable)… we simply live in an age where our mind is spoiled with stimulus.

It can be hard to know what to do next and focus on that one thing - but this 5-step process shows you exactly how

So, how to choose the one thing we need to focus on.

I’ve dug into this briefly in previous posts, but I’ve recently found myself struggling with decision fatigue and general distraction all over again.

Turns out: it’s a constant battle.

Find Your ONE Thing Spreadsheet

I’ve spent the last 3 months laser focussed on getting my 4-week online course out, and whilst I’m thrilled about that, I also found myself in a bit of a mid-year crisis.

Er… what’s next?

The problem certainly wasn’t a lack of possible futures; it was the insane abundance of them.

Literally everything from learning Japanese to learning to play golf, to starting a crochet club to writing and self-publishing a book.

Hmmm…

Typical Jack-of-all-trades multipassionate entrepreneur.

Rather than being energised by all these ideas zooming around, it left me feeling bored, and totally unable to focus on anything – therefore, I couldn’t DO anything.

It can be hard to know what to do next and focus on that one thing - but this 5-step process shows you exactly how

When I can’t do anything, I feel like a sack of shit, quite frankly.

So I switched on my planning hyperdrive, and started to take action.

This is my full action plan, step-by-step, which WILL take you from 1,387,238 potential to-do’s to your ONE thing.

It can be hard to know what to do next and focus on that one thing - but this 5-step process shows you exactly how

Step 1: Book time to do this

To calm my frazzled brain, I had to take myself away from the scene of the crime (or lack thereof) which was my home/office.

I walked a good 45 minutes to get to the calmest, most quiet coffee shop I knew, and parked myself there for 2 hours.

There are various reasons for this step:

(1) The walk will help your mind to settle, de-stress and free it up for some good thinking

(2) You get out of the familiar space that you associate with the lack-of-focus or general stress

(3) You can pick somewhere with no wifi, and free yourself from other distractions like cleaning your desk etc

(4) Carving the time out makes you DO it – this is a fairly painful task and I found myself putting it off like everything else

Step 2: Braindump

I LOVE a good braindump.

It’s a less organised brainstorm, or spider diagram, in my opinion.

You just write EVERYTHING down that you want to do or think you should be doing, and worry about sorting it later.

Use pen and paper, or just open a doc in Word if you prefer. I personally choose to dump in list format because cloud-type diagrams make me worry too much about layout and organisation (which comes next.)

Get it all out.

Order more coffee.

It can be hard to know what to do next and focus on that one thing - but this 5-step process shows you exactly how

Step 3: Categorise

This was important in my case because some of my ‘to-dos’ were more like hobbies; others were to do with my online business.

If this is the case, you don’t have to pick just one or the other to focus on next: for example, my life isn’t JUST business; I make time for hobbies strategically.

So, choosing some loose categories will help you in the next stage.

Think about how you want your life to be balanced: even if it’s vague. For me, it was Creative, Income, Hobby.

My tasks all roughly fit into each category, and I know I can focus on one from each and still have time in my week to see friends and family (a non-negotiable.)

Step 4: Order

Now it’s time to get these into a sexy spreadsheet 😉

Find Your ONE Thing Spreadsheet

You knew it was coming.

Your spreadsheet will consist of the following columns:

(1) The task

(2) Time investment

(3) Financial investment

(4) Potential income

(5) Enjoyment

(6) Importance

Now, these were just my priorities: it’s how I chose to determine what’s worth focussing on right now for ME.

This could be totally different for you, just use this as it is: a guide.

Now you want to give each task a rating (eg. 1–5) on how well they score against the priority.

Note: Because time investment and financial investment are things you want to avoid (I assume) something that costs a lot of money for example, would score a 1.

Something that generates a lot of money would score a 5.

So, low numbers = bad, high numbers = good.

Note 2: if you had a few different categories from Step 3, make a separate sheet for each category of task.

Step 5: The big reveal

The best part is about this technique is that the decision making is left to maths!

The one time I like maths…

So when all your ratings are in, add them up for each task (select the row, and hit Functions > SUM) to get each task’s total score.Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.07.43

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.07.23 Then hit sort for the column with all the total scores…

And BOOM!
Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.06.59

The highest task wins the prize of your next ONE thing to focus on.

Screen-Shot-2016-07-18-at-12.19

— DISCLAIMER —

So, I found myself happy with the one thing that was revealed next, but it doesn’t mean my intuition was ignored.

In fact, it made itself very clear that something in me was still drawn to certain tasks that didn’t score so highly.

This shouldn’t be ignored.

Whilst I’m going with the spreadsheet on this occasion, I made a separate column for those tasks that feel irrationally unforgettable, and just put an ‘x’ in those rows.

In time, they’ll either reveal themselves as MUST DO tasks, or not. I’m just saying that intuition is worth noting, even when your rational brain tells you otherwise.

Find Your ONE Thing Spreadsheet

 


 

I hope that was helpful for anyone battling the OMFG WHAT DO I DO NEXT demons that strike us Renaissance guys and girls so much.
Let me know if you have any strategies of your own for choosing your ONE thing in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @creativeintro!