So I was reading the marketing legend Gary Halpern’s Boron letters.
He wrote these letters to his son and his son adds feedback on what he learned.
There was one thing that stuck out.
His son said that Gary was really great at saying no and prioritizing. Nothing stood in the way of what he felt was most important to his life and routine.
He even ended his birthday celebration earlier once to spend time with a friend he wouldn’t see for a while.
To quote his son:
“My dad had a rare and enviable skill of eradicating people from his life if they were not a positive influence…We all have people in our lives we are stuck dealing with for a variety of reasons such as loyalty based on past friendship, family or some other sense of duty. Well not my pop. He said SCREW THAT and cut anyone who impeded his enjoyment right out of his life for good.”
He was strict with his exercise routine and life. Anything or anyone who brought a negative influence to his life, he cut out. Even family. He moved towards constructing a life of maximum enjoyment.
There’s something to be learned from that. That’s why we’ll be talking about how to stay focused on your priorities and eliminate distractions today. Listen to the podcast below for details not mentioned in this article.
Do you have a family member whose holding you back with their negative words or actions? Do you know someone you hang around who doesn’t believe in you or prevents you from pursuing your dreams? Or do you keep getting distracted from work thanks to social media?
Why do you stay with them? Is it because they’re family? Is it because they’re long-time friends?
This is your life. Don’t let them hold you back from enjoying it to its fullest.
Obviously, this advice can be taken the wrong way. If you’re destroying your life with drugs or ruining your long-term success by partying too much, maybe you should listen.
Chances are you’ve tried using pure willpower to hold back, and it hasn’t worked. Another way is to give yourself time limits. That way, you’re letting it happen but slowly reducing how much time they give you.
I remember visiting a co-ed soccer game. I didn’t set any level of time limit beforehand and ended up staying for two to three hours even though the amount of fun I had quickly diminished. I stayed because I didn’t want to be rude and it was “kind of” fun.
But in reality, there were tons of people who left throughout the event, and no one considered them rude. I should have set a one-hour time limit before arriving.
Examine your own life and see where you can set stricter time limits than before.
Most people never even notice how much time they waste. If the average person tracks their time, they’ll be surprised to find they waste 3 to 5 hours on their phone, computer, and TV. The Screen Time feature on iPhones is an easy way to get started tracking that. It also offers a time limit you can place on apps.
Another thing I picked up from the letters is what his son said about finding positive people:
“Most people think the hard part is finding positive people, but that isn’t true.”
It may be difficult to find successful, ambitious, hard working, and positive people. But positive people are everywhere. For every twenty people you stumble across, I’m sure you’ll find at least one.
Another way of forcing productivity (and meeting people you’d want to hang out with) is by committing to a seminar, workshop, meet-up, or event.
Join a virtual summit, pay for an online course, or buy a ticket to a seminar or class. When you’re out there, you can’t be on your phone. These events don’t have to be boring or draining. I took a hip hop dance workshop recently, and who is to say that my growth and knowledge in dancing won’t help me on some way in the future? Dancing improves my mood and mental health.
Another distraction is content that appears productive or valuable. Because you think it’s helpful, you think it’s okay if you get distracted by it. On YouTube, this could be listicles, TED talks, or other informative graphic videos. But just because it’s useful doesn’t mean it deserves to distract you from your main task. Rather than using brute willpower to force yourself to avoid these, which doesn’t work well, you can pare down how many you consume to the most essential.
We live in the age of information overload.
There was once a time not long ago where information was rare. You were privileged to get your hands on a book with valuable information. It would cost a fortune to obtain.
Now, you have a flood of information.
You can get advice from some of the world’s wealthiest people in a $7 book.
The issue with this is that there’s more information than you can handle. Plus, there’s tons of bad advice from average people who have the ability to easily publish books or post things online.
So how do you decide what to consume and who to listen to?
It’s simple. Find the absolute best in the world at what you want to achieve. This person has to have already achieved it or gone the farthest in doing so.
For example, I look to billionaires when I study productivity.
All the advice from productivity experts, blogs, articles, and even millionaires falls away.
While they tell the masses to buy dozens of productivity apps or tools, I know that most billionaires don’t do this. Some don’t even use email.
While others are convinced to go to 50 self-help conventions a year, I know that billionaires go to only a couple and spend most of their time on their business.
All the bad advice gets washed away when I focus down on who I listen to.
Staying concentrated for hours on end without burning out
I’ve been asked by a reader on how to stay focused on schoolwork for hours without letting social media and the Internet distract her. There’s a simple process that various successful people and books, like Brendon Burchard and Deep Work by Cal Newport, recommend. Some call it the Pomodoro Technique, but it’s really as simple as taking five minute or shorter breaks every 20 to 30 minutes.
When taking the breaks do something relaxing and rejuvenating, like walking in nature. You can’t go on your phone or do something that keeps your stress and energy levels high.
These short breaks may seem like a lot of time to take off when you add it up, but these short investments give you the energy you need to keep going. In the long run, you stay focused for longer. Plus, the breaks are short enough that they don’t pull away too much from your work. This process gives you just enough time to recharge, but no more than necessary.
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