Categories
Focus

Singular Focus: The Ultimate Guide

I want to introduce you to a concept called singular focus.

It kind of is what it says on the tin - simply focusing on one thing at a time until completion.

However mastering it, and using it as a powerful productivity tool takes a little practice. 

But don't worry, you're about to learn all about it below.


What is singular focus?

Ok, first things first, what is singular focus?

Experts define singular focus as the ability to concentrate exclusively on a single task - without distraction.  Sounds simple right?

But it’s actually harder than you think (more on that later).

You see, in order to hone in your focus on just one thing, by definition you must ignore everything else.

Put another way, singular focus can only occur when you’ve committed to only one option, and said no to everything else.  

All of your focus, on a singular outcome, exclusively.


Why is it so hard to focus on a single task

Take a look around you.  

As I’m writing this article my daughter is 1ft away from my face harassing me about how many hours until her birthday, my son harassing me to make him a hot chocolate, my computer screen has eight programs open, I’ve got forty one unread emails plus the house is a mess.

And that’s just the beginning.

Top that off with a hundred other things I need to do to grow my business, it’s no wonder that singular focus is so difficult.

What happens is our days are spent being pulled from one thing to another, endlessly.  

So it’s not until we cultivate the ability to say no, even when everything else seems so alluring, that we can begin to develop a singular focus.


The myth of multitasking

Are we capable of doing two things at once?

Technically yes.

I can for instance change the radio station whilst I’m driving - albeit not very well.

But, do we have the ability to concentrate on two things at once?

NO!

Let me explain.

Whilst I’m driving my concentration switches from driving, then to changing the radio station.  Yet at no point am I concentrating on both simultaneously. 

And this is what happens in our personal/professional lives too.  And it comes at a cost.

It’s what’s known as a switching cost.

This switching cost is the reduction in performance and productivity you experience when you switch between tasks.  In fact, one study found that the time to regain focus on a task after being disrupted was 63 seconds.  

Think about that for a minute.  

Every time your focus drifts away to something else; a phone notification, an email, a phone call, a family request, etc. it takes over a minute to get back to a point of focus on what you were previously doing.

And how often do you think that happens?

A lot right.

That’s why minimising distractions is at the core of effective productivity.


A box within a box: Wrapping a single focus in the Eisenhower matrix.

Here’s a little something I’ve been trialing to some success recently.

I call it the box within a box technique and it’s helped me to remove many of the distractions that were previously present in my life.

Here’s how it works.

Using the Eisenhower Method I create two separate lists.

The first is like my master list for my business as a whole.  This list takes into account everything that I need to do to operate my business effectively and prioritise tasks effectively.

The second list I use for my weekly milestones.  This is my singular focus for the entire week.  All tasks within this list are focused exclusively on this single milestone - with all other distractions removed.

Using this technique I’ve been able to complete bigger tasks - that I would previously procrastinate about forever - consistently.  

And here’s a little tool that I built to help with this technique that you might like too.


Using Singular focus to increase output

Just understanding singular focus and how it works doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to get out there and start implementing it effectively. 

There's something else you can do to really get a grip of it.


Measure your results

First things first to maintaining a singular focus is to measure your results.

Here's why.

The things in your life that you measure, tend to improve.  And the things that you don't, fade off into the distance.

When I started measuring how long I could hold my breath for, my hold time improved.

When I recorded how many blog articles I published, the amount of content I created increased.

When I began evaluating the work I'd done at the end of each week, my business improved.

But here's the thing.

Most people measure things that they have no control over.

  • How much money you make each month.
  • How much traffic you get to your website.
  • How many leads your website generates.

What do all of these metrics have in common?

All of them are out of your control.  They're lagging indicators.

What you could measure instead is:

  • How many outreach emails have you sent.
  • How many blog articles have you published.
  • How many products have you launched, etc.

These are the types of key performance indicators that you can track, and have complete control over at the same time.


How to become a ‘singular focused’ person

Becoming a singular focused person means becoming a person that says no -  often.

A singular focused person must become comfortable with ignoring the multitude of bright shiny objects that seem so alluring in the present, in favour of remaining steadfastly focused on a single task with a delayed gratification at some point in the future.

Instead what so many of us do is chase the quick wins.

And don't get me wrong chasing the quick wins is a great way to look busy.

But, a lazor-like singular focus - whereby you start and complete a task before moving on - is the key to being genuinely productive.

And productive kicks ass over being busy every day of the week.


Moving forward

I hope you found this short guide on singular focus helpful.

I liken the effects of a singular focus to the effects of compound interest which in the word's of Albert Einstien is "the 8th wonder of the world."

And by using singular focus as a tool to complete tasks consistently - rather than starting a hundred things and never completing them - you can compound the effects of your labour over time.

Which as you can imagine can lead to some pretty staggering results.

Peace out.

Rowan.

Categories
Focus Habits

Personal Mantra; & The Art of self-persuasion

You’ve probably heard of a mantra before, but what about a personal mantra?

I know what you’re thinking, enough of that hippy shit already.

I know, I know.  But stay with me.  You’re really going to like this.

You see, traditional goal setting is just so lame lets be fair.  

Sure, you’re all inspired and full of motivation at the outset, but that soon dwindles away and you’re back where you started.

If that sounds like you (it sure as hell sounds like me), then you’re going to love this article.


What is a personal mantra?

A personal mantra is a document you read to yourself daily.  This document is written in such a way as to evoke a response within you, to trigger you into taking action, and to continually remind you of your goals, and what’s really important to you.


How does a personal mantra work?

A personal mantra works by serving as a constant reminder, or anchor, to align the work you do with your personal mission, values and goals.

Your personal mantra is like a compass, keeping you on your own true North, steering you there without deviation.


How to create a personal mantra

The key to creating an effective personal mantra is to make it hit home hard.  That means brutal honesty.  Your personal mantra is for you, and you only, so fuck whatever anyone else thinks or any judgements they might have.

This is time to be selfish.

Here’s how to create a personal mantra that really fucking works:


Complete honesty

I mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it here again.  Complete, radical honesty is essential.

Let me explain.

Some of our goals can be, you know, a bit crass, vulgar and selfish, so we often try and sugar coat them to avoid looking like a dick to others.  

But here’s the thing…

When we do this we’re effectively changing our goals to suit those around us to avoid criticism, and that just plain sucks.

Striving to make other people happy at the cost of living life on your terms is a losing strategy that’ll end up in disappointment. 

For that reason, stay honest - brutally honest - at all times.


Market to yourself

You know when you read a good sales page, or read a really good article and the words really move you.  They hit a nerve.

That’s called copywriting - Copywriting is the act of writing text that persuades a person to take a particular action. 

And we can use this same skill to “persuade ourselves” to take action.

Here’s what I mean.

Lets say your goal might be to make $50k by the end of the year.

A typical goal might look like this: “Make $50k by end of year.”

Now that’s cool and all, but it’s hardly very persuasive.  Let's compare it to something with a little copywriting spice added into the mix.

“As we speak I’m doing whatever it takes to turn this blog into a $50,000 per year business, making £274 per/day.  The value of the products and services I create makes this a no brainer.”

This is something from one of my personal personal mantras, and it used to give me shivers in my spine when I read it.  

That’s what you want your mantra to do.  You want it to be moving, you want it to evoke action.


Get specific

With your personal mantra, you’ve got to get specific, like real specific.

If you want to make money, how much do you want to make exactly?  How much is that broken down by the day, or even by the hour?

You see, breaking things down and getting specific makes your goals more tangible.  And if it’s tangible, and you believe it, you’ll do it.


Don't be a sheep

This kind of goes without saying, but make sure that the goals you set for yourself are genuinely aligned with your values.  

Here’s what I mean.

Let's say one of your goals is to produce more video content on your website.  

You want to create the video content because you know it’ll be good for your website traffic and growing your audience.

But…

  1. You don’t really like making video content.
  2. You’re not really very good at making video content.

When broken down, really what you want is more traffic, and a bigger audience, NOT to create more video content.

So you know what, DON’T FUCKING DO IT!

Do it in a different way.

If you like writing, write blog content to drive traffic.  If you like talking, use podcasting to drive traffic.  If you like social media, use social media to drive traffic.

At the end of the day, just align what you want to achieve with what you actually enjoy doing, otherwise, what’s the fucking point?


Examples of personal mantras

Here’s an example of my own personal mantra from a few years back.  It's a little embarrassing I know, but here it is:

Example of my own personal mantra

"My blog is being built to become the absolute best resource worldwide for digital Micropreneurs to cultivate their skills, productising themselves and their talents to make money online.

As we speak I’m doing whatever it takes to turn this blog into a £100,000 per year business, making £274 per/day.  The value of the products and services I create makes this a no brainer.

I only build products, and offer services that fill me with pride.  These products are so good, that they sell themselves and my customers can’t stop talking about them.

Everything I do is dripping with integrity, honesty and authenticity.  You can fucking taste it!

I express myself freely at all times, from sunrise to sunset, and I’m always in the right place at the right time, to meet the right people.  In fact, I go out of my way to find people in my niche to surround myself with.

I’m doing all of this because if I don’t, I’ll still be working in cafe’s when I’m forty.  And that just can’t happen."

These words speak to me.  They give me tingles in my spine, and they trigger me emotionally to take action.

And they work.

Use this example as a guide only because obviously your goals and your values will be much different to mine, but I hope it'll help in some way.


Conclusion

I want you to take what you’ve learned here and go apply it right now.  

Not tonight, not tomorrow…

Now.

Go do it now, and do it EVERY SINGLE MORNING without fail, and never skip a day.

Then, report back to me in twelve months time and tell me how much of a difference it’s made.  I guarantee it’ll change your life.

Peace out.

Rowan.

Categories
Focus Productivity For Micropreneurs

The Blind Swimmer Effect

How I inadvertently uncovered my biggest (if not the biggest productivity hack)...

A few years ago I entered a Biathlon in my hometown of St Ives, Cornwall. The race consisted of roughly a 5km run, followed by about a 2km swim so nothing too crazy.

On the day of the race the wind was up and so was the swell, making the swim aspect of the race that much more challenging.


Nonetheless, the race was on.

I got out of the blocks pretty quickly and felt good on the run, passing a few people who were obviously much fitter than I was (this was short lived but hey, I’ll take what I can).

And then came the swim.

You see, I’m not the best swimmer - I couldn’t even swim until I was 14 - and the furthest I had ever swam in my life up until that point was about 400m.  So my goal was never to win the race, instead it was just not to come last.

Now here’s the thing with swimming, it’s must faster to swim with your head underwater rather than your head up as it helps your body to plain through the water.  It’s much more streamlined.


Swimming blind


So that’s what I did.

Head down, one stroke followed by the next for what seemed like an eternity.

I poked my head up every now and again to make sure I was still swimming in the right direction, and eventually I got to the finish line.


But it wasn’t until later that night that I noticed something.

My friend and I went to the event website to find out our times.  We found our times (his was far better than mine, but hey), but we also found something else too.

Our GPS.

Little did we know that GPS had tracked not only our times, but also our movement.  And this was especially interesting when mapping our swims.

Looking at my swim path I could see something very interesting indeed.

Unlike my friend who’s swim path was direct from A to B in a straight line, mine was like a zig zag.  Put a different way, I'd swam nearly twice as far as him!


zigzagging


Fuck! was what first came to my head, and I asked him what I was doing wrong...

He said “did you swim with your head under water the entire way?”.

And I was like “ummmmmm, yeah pretty much”.  

He then told me about the proper way to do ocean swimming.


And here’s what he said... 

There’s a big difference between swimming in the ocean and swimming in a pool.  In the pool you can put your down and never look up, but in the ocean it’s entirely different.  

Even though you can swim much faster with your head underwater, you can’t see where you’re going.  

To get from A to B fast in the ocean you must frequently bring your head above water to stay on path, on track to your destination.

Swimming even just a few degrees off course - no matter how fast you're going - is just a waste of energy"

Just like being busy, yet un-productive.


And that’s when it hit me.

I’d been doing the exact same thing, but with my life.  

I had goals I wanted to achieve, things I wanted to do, targets I wanted to hit, but I was too busy swimming with my head underwater to even look up to see if I was still on the right track.

I was too busy to even come up for air and even see if I was swimming in the right direction.  I was swimming blind.

You see it’s better to be swimming slow and steady towards your destination, rather than frantically zigzagging miles off course.


I call this the Blind Swimmer Effect.

It’s up there as one of the best, if not the only productivity hack. 

If you want to get from A to B quickly, then it’s important to stop regularly, come up for air often and stay on a straight line towards your target.

Nothing is worse than swimming full-speed in the wrong direction. 

Peace out.

Rowan.