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James Clear on Focus
Curation of James Clear best work on Focus
Less than twenty books sell a million copies per year. Let’s leave that sad fact aside and concentrate on the authors of those books, who are rockstars (at least in my world). When a million copies sold gives you rockstar credentials, which category do you fit in when you sell five million book copies? I believe you are a legend.
That’s exactly who the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, is. This legend focuses on communicating valuable ideas -precisely what our spam-generating society needs-. The central question he explores through his work is “how can we live better?” Simple, yet powerful; I love it. He is keen on “leaving a great intellectual inheritance” and seeks that goal through his website and works.
Why Should I Care?
Clear is a successful person; he spent over one year on the New York Times bestsellers list; I find his insights fitting and straightforward. As I searched for his recipe for success, I came across his work on focus. I believe focus is powerful because it requires giving your time to something or someone, and time, because it is limited, is the most precious thing we have. Therefore, I'm especially keen on mastering the skill of focusing. That’s one of the reasons why I practice meditation: To improve my focus by concentrating on my breath. This skill has helped me enormously in my everyday life as I have boosted my performance in daily tasks.
Here, I will share his view and knowledge on the topic. Focus helps us sustain the effort and energy needed to reach a goal. Without focus, we get nowhere; and because we want to get far, we are diving into this fantastic skill.
How To Focus
How To Get Your Brain To Focus On What Matters — How do you know what to focus on? By measuring your results so that you have proof of your progress. “Experts spend more time focusing on what works. And the only way to know what works is to put the time in.”
The Difference Between Professionals and Amateurs — The difference between professionals and amateurs is “stepping up when it’s annoying or painful or draining to do so.” He adds, “if you only do the work when it’s convenient or exciting, then you’ll never be consistent enough to achieve remarkable results.” I’ll have to engrave this last quote on my bedroom wall.
What To Focus On
How Experts Figure What To Focus On — Clear studies successful people; their secret: If you want to go deep, go wide. Yes, that’s right. “If you want to master and deeply understand the core fundamentals of a task you may, paradoxically, need to start by casting a very wide net”. That means we should try many different things to find our abilities and talents and set ourselves up for success.
What Are You Measuring In Your Life? — If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. By measuring, you will know which direction is giving you more results; that’s the one you should focus on.
The Ultimate Productivity Hack Is Saying No — I know keeping focus is challenging; I meditate, so I struggle with it daily. To maintain focus and reach your goals, you’ll have to pick carefully and probably say no to a hundred other good ideas. This quote from this article is excellent: “[saying no] means that you say yes in a focused way.” So keep your goal in mind and reject distractions!
Where you apply your effort matters more than how much you use — I love this tweet. In other words, operate smartly. If you focus on the right thing, you may be able to save energy and time and have better results. As a productivity geek, this is my kind of tweet. Of course, the challenge would be where to concentrate, but if you have read this far, you probably already know.
How To Stay Focused
How To Stay Focused When You Get Bored Working Toward Your Goals — Consistency is one of the best qualities one can have. It enhances the value of your goal for you and intensifies your motivation level. In this piece, James (I think it’s OK if I call him by his first name by this point) explains that the ability to work when it’s not easy makes the difference. How to achieve this? You must commit to the process more than focusing on the results. This is an excerpt from Chapter 19 of Atomic Habits.
Be Selectively Ignorant — We knew that keeping focused would require effort. In this twitt, besides great facts, he shares some wisdom: “Do not keep up with it all. The more selectively ignorant you become, the more broadly knowledgable you can be”. Remember: Be conscientious about what you ignore so you can focus on what matters. This critical advice requires consciousness and practice; if you haven’t applied it yet, now is the time to start.
How To Focus And Concentrate Better — I had to leave some gold mines at the end. Remember this: “All you need to do is commit to one thing.” Something I do is divide the topic at hand into sections to make it more friendly. That way, I have a step-by-step, which immediately improves my performance expectations. He explains that most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to focus on better.
On Focus, Persistence, and Misfortune — In this edition of his 3–2–1 Newsletter, James shares this idea: “In a world where information is abundant and easy to access, the real advantage is knowing where to focus.” With so much information going around, applying filters and concentrating on things that add value is best.
Reading James Clear's work on focus has made me realize its nature as a skill; therefore, it requires practice to master it. Consequently, I like to divide this topic into two parts: Be mindful about what you focus on to create the best surroundings for yourself (WHAT you focus on) and practice this skill and be aware when doing so (that’s HOW you focus).
I hope this piece will help you on your path to mastering this fantastic skill.