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Are you finding it difficult to maintain focus on your goals? If your answer is yes to this question, don’t worry, you definitely aren’t alone!
Many of us find it a challenge to keep that focus and to ignore the noise that comes from the numerous distractions bombarding us every day.
I personally find this to be an ongoing challenge, although in the past month or so I feel as though I have become more focused.
I’m still not perfect and a work in progress, but the tools and techniques I’ve been trying are definitely helping.
I work full time as well as trying to build my personal and career development side hustle business.
More recently I have also had to factor in time to provide care and support to my elderly mother who has moved to be near to us.
I’ve found myself saying ‘I don’t have time to do x, y, z’.
When it comes down to it though, I’ve realised that I DO have time, I simply need to keep laser-focused as much as I possibly can.
It sometimes feels hard, if not impossible, to balance everything.
I have often felt overwhelmed.
I’m sure you’d like to hear my ways to focus on your goals?
Well, here they are. 19 simple tools and techniques which I personally use to stay focused. I would suggest choosing 2 or 3 to begin with in order to avoid overwhelm.
I’d love to hear how you get on with them.
1. Write Your Goals Down
Writing your goals down makes them more concrete. They are there in black and white and you can refer back to them any time you need some help to focus on your goals.
I like to write mine down at the front of my journal so they are there for me to see. You could print them out and pin them to your wall for an everyday reminder.
2. Make Them SMART
Most people are familiar with the SMART goals acronym, but hand on heart, can you say your goals truly are SMART?
SMART stands for
The two parts of this I’ve failed on in the past are ‘measurable’ and ‘timebound’.
Nowadays when I set a goal I ask myself how I will know that I’ve achieved it. This helps me to know what I need to do to measure my success.
For example, for the Etsy shop which I’ve just launched, I have set myself a goal of ten sales by the end of the first month. And for my side hustle business as a whole, I’ve set myself an income target for the year.
3. Find Your ‘Why’
To my mind, one flaw in the SMART goal setting method is that it doesn’t ask you WHY you want your goal. If you have a strong reason why and you have this written down, it can be a brilliant motivator when you are flagging.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to find your ‘why’. Write down the answers and again, put them somewhere prominent.
- What will achieving this goal give me?
- What happens if I don’t reach this goal?
- Who will achieving this goal benefit?
- Why am I pursuing this goal?
I can help you firm up your goals. Book your POWER HOUR to explore in more detail
4. Don’t Have Too Many Goals
I’ve fallen foul of this one in the past.
Having too many goals means that we can’t fully focus on what’s truly important and we partially do many things (often badly). I have a long list of things I’d love to achieve, but realistically I can’t do all of them at once.
I recently read about Warren Buffet’s 5/25 rule which I’m now trying out for myself to really streamline my current goals and areas of focus.
If you want to try this yourself, here’s how:
- Write down 25 goals/tasks you want to achieve
- Cross out 20 of these, leaving the top 5
- Focus your energy and attention on those top 5 priorities
- DO NOT spend time working on the other 20 (Warren says this is your ‘avoid at all costs’ list)
- Once you have completed one of your top 5, you can move your next priority from your 20 onto your new list of 5
The items at numbers 6 to 25 will likely still feel important to you. But I can definitely see the benefit in ignoring them completely whilst you work on your top 5.
Trying to work on more than this leads to overwhelm and half-completed goals left right and centre!
5. Make Yourself Accountable
I’ve noticed I’m much more likely to achieve my goals if I give myself some accountability.
Spending some money often makes me accountable although I appreciate this doesn’t work for everyone.
For example back in 2017 when I wanted to cut down on alcohol (after many failed attempts) I paid to join the One Year No Beer Programme. Along with joining their Facebook group, that feeling of accountability helped me to give up alcohol completely.
There are many ways you can gain some accountability. Here are some ideas:
- Find an accountability partner (maybe someone pursuing a similar goal)
- Hire a coach
- Sign up for a course or program
- Join a Facebook group (and contribute regularly)
6. Ask How You Sabotage Yourself (Be Honest)
Ask yourself the question ‘how do I self-sabotage’? Or ‘if I was going to sabotage myself, how would I do it’.
Journal your responses. Be honest.
If you aren’t sure, ask a trusted friend how they think you sabotage yourself.
Book your Power Hour call now to find out how you self-sabotage and what I can do to help you change
7. Make A Plan For The Next 60 Days
I’ve been doing this for a few months now and find it really helpful.
Planning goals for any longer a time period makes them vague and not at all SMART. I seem to be able to be more specific and break my goals down better if I stick to 60 days.
I do a check to make sure my 60-day goals fit with my overall goals for the year. Then I split my 60-day goals into my priorities for month 1 and month 2.
I’m also going to combine this with Warren Buffet’s 5/25 idea mentioned above for the next 60 days.
8. Make A Weekly Plan
Once a week, take your priorities from your 60 day/monthly list and make a detailed weekly plan. I tend to spend half an hour on a Sunday doing this.
Remember to also build in some fun and some rest and relaxation!
Here is where you plan in detail. Split your priorities down into actual, achievable tasks.
For example, you might have to declutter your closet on your list of priorities for the week. You could split it down by deciding on an item of clothing to focus on each day.
You could also make a plan of when you will take/send items to charity or when you will mend items with holes etc.
9. Make A Daily Plan Of Action
I do this each morning and plan out when I am going to carry out each task on my list for the day.
A daily plan of action is a really helpful way of keeping me focused. I would say 95% of the time I then go on to complete what I set out to do. (Hey, I’m human, life gets in the way the other 5% of the time!)
I also plan some downtime where I can do whatever I want. I try to keep anything that might distract me for those time slots (TV, scrolling Facebook, playing video games etc).
10. Track Your Progress
Remember to keep a track of everything you’ve achieved. I do this in my journal and also on Trello. I find it extremely satisfying to look back at everything I’ve achieved.
It might feel like you are only making a small amount of progress, but believe me a little progress each day soon adds up!
11. Reward Yourself And Celebrate Your Success
Granted this has been a bit more difficult with all the Covid restrictions so you will need to be creative in your rewards!
Perhaps have a movie night with your other half or treat yourself to a home spa. Or do you have a hobby you love like crafting or playing music? Reward yourself with a chunk of time on your hobby.
12. Remove Distractions
I’m terrible for getting distracted with ‘bright shiny things’!
When I’ve blocked time out to work on a task, I do make a point of closing down my emails and switching off all notifications on my phone.
I also keep a notepad on my desk as I find ideas and to-dos pop into my head as I’m working on something. I simply jot the thoughts down on the notepad to pick them back up later.
It can be difficult to remove distractions from family and pets, particularly as we’ve all been living on top of one another. If possible, have a set area in the house where you can retreat to and be strict about the times you will go there.
Ultimately, everyone is different. You need to find what works for you. Try these ideas, adapt them to your own unique circumstances. If something doesn’t work, try something else.
13. Learn To Say No
I know, I know, this one feels icky! It’s one I personally am still working on. I’ve found this assertiveness course on Udemy to be very helpful.
I still feel guilty if I say no, but I’ve found using ‘I’ statements (e.g. I am busy right now so don’t have the capacity to take this on) useful and also making sure I acknowledge the other person’s position.
I’m also working on removing ‘filler’ words from my sentences plus words that make me sound unsure about my convictions (read more about what I mean here).
14. Focus On Taking The Next Step, Not The Whole Staircase
Looking at the whole staircase can feel overwhelming! Focus instead on what small, next step you can take today.
Then take it!
Record all the steps you take and watch them quickly add up. Before you know it you’ll have climbed 10 storeys!
15. Remember Perfection Is The Enemy Of Done
I read this phrase somewhere recently and it resonated with me. Trying to make things perfect can lead to procrastination of epic proportions!
I’m guilty of thinking ‘I’ll just tweak this, add to that, go back and look at it again tomorrow before I finish it’.
Although it feels slightly painful, I have lately simply gone with ‘good enough’, realising I can always go back and change things later if I want.
16. Begin With The Hardest Task First
Do you start off with good intentions, then spend 2 hours replying to emails and sorting out your files? By which time you’ve run out of energy to tackle anything else?
Pick the time of day when you are at your most energised (for me it’s early morning) and begin with the hardest/most complex task on your list. For me, this will be the one that requires the most thinking and brainpower.
Then focus on completing this task before you begin anything else.
17. Do Something For 15 Minutes
If you are feeling scattered on have lost focus here’s a tip. Pick one thing, remove all distractions and work on that one thing for 15 minutes.
Set a timer.
At the end of the 15 minutes, assess how you feel. Chances are you will be more focused and inclined to keep going.
Photo by Pixistock
This is another great one to try if you are feeling scattered and unfocused. I use the brilliant app ‘Insight Timer‘ for guided meditations. There are tons of different ones to choose from.
If you are new to meditation, you can check out my beginners’ guide.
19. Look After Yourself
It’s difficult to be focused if you are tired, hungry or feeling a bit ‘ugh’. Make sure to fuel your body properly (and that doesn’t mean with coffee, although apparently, it can help with focus in small quantities).
Get enough rest and do regular exercise which suits you (walking is my personal favourite).
Photo by Pixistock
I hope you have enjoyed this list and that the tips help you to focus on your goals.
Let me know in the comments which ones you intend to try. Or do you have any others that you use which I haven’t mentioned?