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Focus – Quote of the Day – July 31, 2017

"Focus is a matter of deciding what things you're not going to do." John Carmack

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.  –  John Carmack

Mondays are tough for many of us.  We return to work to continue our routines, meet deadlines, and carry out obligations. How is it that we focus on what we need to do? By deciding what not to do!

There is only so much one can accomplish in an hour, day, week, year, or lifetime. Sometimes, it is deciding what NOT to do that helps us to focus.  In the 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris, he teaches about “The Art of Quitting”. That is to quit doing things that make you unhappy or are unnecessary.  He used a parable of eating a dessert that turned out awful.  He put a lot of effort into making it, so he felt compelled to eat all of it.  At a certain point, he realized how silly it was and threw away the disgusting mess.  I think we all have things in our lives we should re-examine and trim out unnecessary and unfruitful activities.

Tim Ferriss also speaks much of the Prato Principle, AKA the 80/20 rule, which I also learned while studying my MBA.  It basically states that 80% of your time is devoted to work that produces 20% of the results. Inversely, 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.  Focus on that 20% of effort and you can compound your results.  Easier said than done, I know.

A personal example. I hate mowing the lawn.  Many a person will spend thousands of dollars and many hours a year mowing and spray their lawns.  They have an affinity for, or maybe a contrived societal coercion to, have a fairway like lawn.  I, on the other hand, let our lawn to grow up  6inches or so, allow it to look shaggy, much more like the rough of a golf course than the green, and only mow when I feel it is absolutely necessary.  And the “weeds”, well we find the yellow dandelions, white clover, and purple violets to be more attractive than monotone green. (I would love to plant an alternative lawn or herbal lawn seed mix.)

To be honest, our lawn doesn’t look that much different than most of our neighbors despite putting in less than half their effort.  With the hours saved, we have more time to do what ever it is we enjoy doing, like writing!

What do you need to cut out of your day/life to improve your focus?  Let us know in the comments!

Focus is a matter of deciding what things you're not going to do. John Carmack

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do. ” – John Carmack

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  1. Rebecca Bryant

    I agree. I make out a to do every night for the next day and I go through it. I like at the end of the day having all my things crossed off. I also like knowing that things that aren’t’ important aren’t on my list.

  2. Lois Alter Mark

    That’s a great quote and a perfect reminder that we can say no to things that take us away from what’s important to us. As I get older, it becomes easier and easier to say no!

  3. Yolanda

    Focus is something I need today! I made a big list, but I have a bad habit of leaving the thing I need to do most to last. Makes no sense I know. Probably because it’s most important – I feel stressed about it, so I’m trying to delay. I must focus – so hard sometimes.

  4. Alicia Taylor

    I really needed this today. I woke up feeling overwhelmed. I have 2 blog posts I have to write, and I need to get the newsletter for the American Legion done. Plus, other things for my family. I took a minute to jot down the things that could wait till tomorrow after reading this. Thank you.

  5. Ellen

    I have tons of focus today. My son had his wisdom teeth out this morning and he is my complete focus!

  6. Catherine Sargent

    Monday is always the most hectic for me. Next week I am going to start with what I don’t have to do.

  7. Liz Mays

    I probably do put a lot of effort into things that aren’t really worth it. I guess it would be good to think about what I prioritize each day.


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