Focus amplifies. Focus distills. Focus is a muscle of the mind. Focus is the collection of a million choices made during the course of completing anything worthwhile. Focus transforms intention to passionate effort. Then, transforms that effort into the searing beam of sunlight that burns a charred checkmark next to a difficult task on a to-do list, emphatically marking the project as complete.

We all know how important focus is and what it can do, but how do we get more focused in our work day? I recommend that we follow Tyler Durden’s advice- focus says no to distractions, and lets that which doesn’t matter truly slide.

So, how do we manage distractions and get rid of less important things?

Consider a few questions:

– What’s the ideal?
What’s the reality?
– What are specific defenses against distraction?

Let’s take a look at each in turn.

1. What is the Ideal?

Let’s get one thing straight, what I’m about to describe is the ideal. Ideal definition includes:

i·de·al [ahy-dee-uhl, ahy-deel]

– a standard of perfection or excellence.
– a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation.
– an ultimate object or aim of endeavor, especially one of high or noble character.

I propose that everyday one strives for 4 hours of uninterrupted focus. I know this sounds ideal-istic – it’s supposed to. Each day, I strive for a half day of pure personal productivity. Uncluttered, uninterrupted and absolutely unrealistic. I usually fail – but I pursue this ideal each day.

Most of the meaningful work I ever get done, it turns out, falls in this 4 hour period of time. The other half of the day is also essential; it’s when I try to schedule meetings, have impromptu ping-pong battles, build relationships with employees, brainstorm ideas, work with clients, write emails, train employees, put out fires and do all the other things that come up in a day at Gravitate Online.

However, the big picture planning, creative writing, strategic thinking and promised to-do tasks are best done when I’m more focused. You know, the tasks that really drive the long-term growth of your company and/or career. The completed tasks that earn you a reputation for being responsible, creative and insightful. This work is best done when I’m focused and working efficiently. Setting a time, each day, to do this essential work will have an amazing effect on your day, business relationships and career. My goal is to train my mind-muscle to focus on these individual tasks for 4 hours each day.

That’s the ideal, but what’s the reality? Check out Part 2.