virgin islands scene

You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.
-- Pearl S. Buck


Thursday, November 9, 1995

The need for focus

Fifty three email messages are waiting in the morning. The phone starts ringing at 7:30 am. There’s soccer practice this afternoon and a PTA meeting tonight. Four faxes come in while you’re out to lunch. There are ten or twelve new Web sites that you want to take a look at. Somebody told you about an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. The phone just keeps on ringing. You’ve got to drop everything to get that presentation ready in time for Federal Express to pick it up. Your oil needed changing 950 miles ago and you’re almost out of space on your hard disk. The afternoon email count is 35. On the way to soccer practice you get 3 more phone calls on your car phone.

Will it ever end? Constantly, relentlessly, day in and day out, at night, on weekends, wherever you are, it just keeps coming. Information, responsibility, decisions, projects. Things demanding your attention, things demanding your time. You finish one and three more pop up to take its place.

How can you possibly deal with it all? Don’t you feel like throwing up your arms and screaming?

The need for focus is becoming more and more critical. There is simply too much to deal with. If you are not focused, your time gets eaten away by all the thousands of details that make up life. If you are not highly focused, you’re probably not getting anything accomplished.

Life never lets up. And now, with computers and the Internet, the problem is worse by an order of magnitude. There is just so much information coming at you. Unless you make a concious effort to focus your attention, you’ll be mired in meaningless data.

Focus is what ties everything together, gives it a context, gives you something productive to do with it all. Without it, you’ll be pulled in 15 different directions at once, and will never get anywhere.

Make the decision to focus your efforts. Decide what you want to do today and concentrate on that until it is done. Decide what you want to do this week, this month, this quarter, this year. Because once your daily goals get accomplished, the world is waiting to suck you back in if you’re not focused on the next step. That is why goals are so important. They keep you focused and headed in the direction you want to go.

When you have a clear sense of direction, then everything becomes an opportunity instead of a distraction. All the information that you take in can now be viewed in a context, making it much easier to deal with. All your in-person, email and phone contacts are now opportunities to bounce ideas off of others. Being focused can take all the seemingly unrelated pieces of life and align them to work for you.

So get a very clear idea of where you are going, of what you want to do. Remind yourself of it often. And almost as if by magic, the energy that is swirling around you will become aligned in the direction of your goals.

— Ralph Marston

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Copyright ©1995 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Motivator is provided for your personal, non-commercial use only. Other than personal sharing, please do not re-distribute without permission.