Have you ever started newspaper on fire with a magnifying glass? If you’re familiar with this, you’ve figured out that it requires you focus the sunlight onto a single point of the paper. The point heats it enough for a fire to start.

If you don’t hold the magnifying glass just right, the light coming through isn’t focused enough to ignite the paper.

If you lose the little dot created, it’s easy to refocus the beam back on and continue where you left off. It doesn’t stop your progress that much because you’re right back at it in a couple moments.

But, if you keep losing that focus, you'll find it takes much longer to get the paper ignited. The lost progress being the cause.

Our lives and work are the same way.


Focusing is an important aspect in any situation I can think of. Survival, writing, discussions, work, flying, building, and much more. It’s something that can be a struggle to achieve nowadays.

Phones light up with the latest meaningless event, the latest email, photo, tweet, and more. Do you need to see that alert right now? It’s easy to lose focus. But what happens when we do? What does it do to our work and our life?

  • We can't operate at our full potential.
  • Projects take longer than they should.
  • Meaningful interactions with friends and family get interrupted.
  • You aren't experiencing the life going on around you as you could.

Focus on important things and don’t spread yourself thin. The focused effort can ignite success. It can teach you all kinds of new things. Focused effort, like that dot of sun a magnifying glass creates, allows you reach your success.

Here are seven ways you can achieve better focus to be better, more productive, and to get more from life.

The List

1. Turn off your phone

Spending time with your family and the phone rings? Call them later. It isn't worth ruining the moment with your family for the convenience of the caller.

Sitting down at your desk to get some work done? Make sure your phone is off or set to do not disturb so you don't have any meaningless distractions.

That email, tweet, etc can wait. You have work to do. Two focused hours, twice a day allows more productivity than 8 distracted hours.

2. Decide what's important

Maybe you feel like you're being pulled in a million different directions; like life could be simpler.

Take a step back and figure out what's causing this. On a sheet of paper, take inventory of all the things in your life that are pulling at you. Decide which are worth your time and which aren't.You should be in control of how your time is spent, right? So take control!

Maybe you're pursuing too many projects at work, too many engagements in your personal life, or too many hobbies. Cut back and find a deeper enjoyment in the few that you decide are worth your time.

3. Exercise

We've all heard that exercising helps us in all kinds of ways in our life. They're all true! You'll be able to focus better, problem solve during exercise, and it's a nice break in your day. Find something you enjoy. Don't like running? Then don't run! Remember, you're in control of your time now (see #2, above).

4. Make time for family

Your career is important. Your family is too. Make sure you make time for them and appreciate them. If you don't, you may feel a guilty nagging inside that distracts you from you work, or worse, lose them. You'll find you're more productive without that feeling.

5. Drink water

Know what causes an afternoon crash for most people? Dehydration. Water has great energizing effects. There are many other side effects to dehydration, too.

6. Use the right tool for the job

The most convenient tool might not be the most efficient. Don’t waste your time trying to get work done on your smartphone or tablet, wait until you are at your computer. Work will go quicker, more efficiently, and create much less frustration.

7. Sleep!

Sleep is so important. Figure out how much you need, based on your own observation and experience, and make sure you get that much. Going to bed and waking at the same times each day is the best but isn’t always achievable. That’s ok, just do your best to hit your hours.

So be like that magnifying glass, get hot, and start some fires!

Comment and Connect

I've been exploring ways to simplify my life and improve its quality. Connect with me on Twitter to read more and shoot me a message!  @flyinthecoop

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