This headline sounds like a sales pitch, doesn’t it? Don’t worry. I’m not selling anything—just offering a bit of encouragement. We all want to know how to get things done. We want the magic key, the secret sauce, the whatever-it-is that has eluded us all this time and keeps us from accomplishing what we most want to do.

I’ve finally discovered the secret. And it wasn’t what I thought—or hoped–it would be.

The secret ingredient to getting things done is encompassed in one tiny word that packs a powerful punch. The missing, magic ingredient is FOCUS, which is oh-so-easy to say, but in practice requires a constant and ongoing battle to gain and maintain.

Focus comes when we somehow quiet all the clatter in our brains and deliberately and intentionally point everything inside us at one thing. Only one. To the exclusion, for that brief time, of everything else.

Finding Focus

Finding Focus

And therein lies the challenge. If your life is like mine, you have a to-do list that unrolls like toilet paper and you often run out of day way before you run out of to-do.

So where on earth do we find FOCUS?

The hard, but simple answer is: practice.

Focus doesn’t come naturally, not for most of us anyway.

Focus is hard work.

It means turning off the social media networks, closing the email program, setting the to-do list aside and putting all of our thoughts into Just. One. Thing.

I haven’t posted a new blog recently. I have to admit that every time I sat down to write one, I couldn’t corral the thoughts racing around in my head long enough to compose one simple blog post.

So I’ve been getting back to basics. Here are a few tricks that have helped me get—and stay—focused.

  • Set a timer for one hour—and then do as much of your project as you can in that bit of time.
  • Set a deadline for yourself—and tell someone to ask you if you met it. Nothing motivates like accountability.
  • Set a reasonable daily goal—and don’t let yourself stop until you’ve met it.
  • Give yourself a prize–if you meet your goal/deadline/time, give yourself a reward.

And then start all over again.

Will it ever be easy? Probably not. But it will always be the secret ingredient to getting things done.

What are your strategies for staying focused? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.