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Focus

focus

What does it mean to “focus”? Well, if you Google the term, you are going to get all sorts of hits. There is a movie out now – a Ford Focus car – books, websites, projects, even organizations with the same name. All in the name of “focus”. It’s a pretty interesting word.

But the reason I chose this word/topic today is that in my own life, as well as many of the professionals I work with, focus seems to be a very difficult thing to achieve. It’s not for lack of interest – everyone seems to want more focus, and of course on sometimes very different things per person – but it is just a really hard thing to do. Even the people around me that may preach focus have a hard time with it. I am not faulting them for the lack of focus, just making an observation since I believe it is something very hard to achieve.

Why is that? Why can’t we focus? Well, if you Google that one, you’ll be lead to all sorts of sites that will want you to take some sort of assessment. Since, of course, you need to be tested right?   Then I’m guessing that you’ll end up being diagnosed (online, of course) with ADHD or something like that. After all, it’s America – it has to have a name and therefore a really expensive medicine to help address that.

OK – enough of my anti-doctor/pharma rant. (speaking of lack of focus, back on subject)

So why can’t we focus? Well the standard answer is “that depends” (which is true), but I think more realistically it has to do with all of the pressures that we are put under from society, our jobs, and even our families. Everything has to be a priority. Like everything is the most important and that’s where you need to spend your time – NOW. Well, of course that’s not realistic – everything can’t be #1. Unless, of course, you are my 13-year old daughter that HAS to go to Starbucks RIGHT NOW (yes, this happens) – then I have “focus”. 🙂

Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that our families are “bad” for wanting our focus – or our jobs, for that matter. It’s just a reality of life. We are all pulled in many directions at the same time. So be it.

So what’s a person to do? Focus, right? 🙂

I could write probably write a couple chapters about this, but since blogs aren’t supposed to be that long, I’ll keep it short. I’ll save the longer ramblings for my book – this will be the “executive summary”, if you will. So here are just a few things that I might suggest related to focusing – all of which I work on the best I can:

  • Simplify – This one is good in concept, difficult in practice. Just being honest here. My suggestion is that the more you can simplify your life, the easier it will be to focus. This may involve eliminating activities, commitments, engagements, etc. But again, you can’t be two places at the same time (yet) so at some point if you have a hard time focusing now, you have to cut back somewhere. Where specifically is up to you, but it is something that I would strongly consider.
  • Prioritize – Think about this one long and hard. What is really a priority to you. What is your #1. Something has to come first, and I’m not suggesting that you ignore what comes after #1, but if you have any chance of focusing, something has to come first. Again, easy to say, hard to do – but it has to be done. So do it.
  • Delegate – This can apply to both your work and your personal life. Just about everyone I know has someone that they can delegate something to. Even the smallest thing that can be delegated will allow you to free up some amount of time, which in theory would allow you to focus more effectively. Be careful and thoughtful on how you delegate – there has to be some tact involved here – but do it if you can.
  • Selfish – This one I struggle with, but it’s necessary (at times). Be selfish if you are simply unable to focus. What does that mean? It means that think about what you need and where your time should be spent – before thinking about others. Focusing is about you and if you aren’t thinking about you, you’ll never be able to do it.

There, it all seems super easy right? (kidding)

My point in writing about focus today is really more to stimulate some thought about it, not to provide all the answers. (I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV) I know that everyone’s situation is very unique and there are extenuating circumstances all around. But I have found great relief recently in the ability to focus (a bit) more, so wanted to share some general thoughts around the topic.

I hope that you are able to find some more focus in your life. I know it will help if you do.



  • Eric Vogan

    Great post Joe!

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