How to stay focused on a single task and achieve more

If you are like me, your brain generates new ideas every day and when you don’t want to.

The problem is that you don’t achieve much if you allow yourself to chase these new ideas.

This article is there to help stay focused on a single task because multitasking is a myth.

1. Why do you chase new ideas?

Your excitement goes off pretty quickly and you find yourself chasing the next shiny idea.
This is an avoidance mechanism: you flee before feeling any pain.
But you need to go through this pain to transform your idea into creation.

Your brain is wired to make you choose the easiest path. It will be always here inside you.

The solution is to learn how to avoid being controlled by it and be responsible for your decisions. For this, I am afraid to tell you that you will have to make efforts, but this is the price to pay for freedom.

2. Embrace doing boring stuff

Ideas are exciting but won’t get you anywhere nor help anybody if you don’t transform them.
Stop avoiding boring stuff will set you for success.

But you hate boring stuff, so how do you do them anyway?

3. Keep in mind your initial vision

Knowing where you go is usually a good idea!

When it comes to doing the hard work, keeping in mind why you do things will help you a lot.

It will give sense to the boring stuff (you know, proofreading your article, rewriting 10x the intro, re-re-recording the bass part of your song…)

4. Cultivate self-discipline

This is the most important habit to develop to help you create more. Self-discipline helps you push through the moment when you won’t feel like working on your project.

As any habit, start small with a dedicated time when you will work on your project. Even for 1 minute. And build up from there.

5. Learn how to go the extra mile

Another habit to cultivate, related to self-discipline, is going just a bit further whenever you feel like stopping. When you feel this urge of doing something else, like checking your phone, your email, doing for a snack. Force yourself to go on for 5 minutes.

Breathe when you feel distracted. Stop and give yourself 30 seconds before doing what you crave doing. And for these 30 seconds, breathe deeply while focusing on your inhale and exhale.

You will feel your craving go away and probably go back to work.

6. Set your priorities

Being clear on what you want to achieve will help stop chasing the next idea. A clear mind sees what to focus on and what to get rid of.

Every morning, choose your 1 to 3 priorities for the day. Not more. I do it even before getting out of bed, first thing when I wake up. It is a habit to take and it is easier than you may think.

Remember: less is more!

7. Take a quick note of your other ideas

Have a notebook next to you or use note-taking software to write down the ideas that come while you work on your project.

I personally use an outliner, Dynalist. It helps me reorganize my ideas afterward.

8. Take short breaks

I didn’t like to take breaks until recently because I felt I was losing time and lowering my productivity.

This is wrong. To help you have deeply focused work time-blocks, you should take a short break regularly. Not to check your social media though because you will get distracted.

The idea is to keep your focus while getting a shot of fresh energy.

How to do this then?

Take 30 seconds to look through the window. Get up and go drink a glass of water. Do some stretching. Close your eyes.

Nothing that will take your attention away.

9. Get rid of distractions

If you can, go to a place where you won’t be disturbed. Or put on headphones if you are in an open space. But careful if you listen to music, choose something that you already know so it won’t grab your attention and help isolate yourself from the outside perturbations.

Don’t hesitate to hack your environment as well. If you work home, try to arrange an “office space” dedicated to your work, a studio.

I did both in our second bedroom. We bought a desk and I installed my “home office” and music studio in that room. Not yet ideal but much better than being in the lounge on the sofa or the dining table.

Conclusion

Stop trying to multitask and waste your productivity by following the next idea that emerges in your head.

Setting healthy work habits and cultivating self-discipline will go a long way to help you achieve more things.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t manage to do it right away. It takes practice.

Be kind to yourself when you catch yourself drifting away and refocus gently.

If I can do it, you can too!

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