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Photo via Mark Hunter

I began writing this post while sitting on a runway waiting for my plane to Nashville to take off. The pilot had just made the announcement that our plane was #27 in line for takeoff. Translation? We would sit on the runway for over an hour. The good news? The delay gave me time to write without distraction and implement what I like to call, “Laser-like Focus.”

When people ask me how I’ve accomplished everything I have over the last few years, be it branding myself, writing my book, or getting to the next level in my career, I basically tell them this: 1) Clarity 2) Focus 3) A bit of assistance from the universe. 

A laser is a beam of pointed energy. It’s nearly impossible to point your energy when you are not clear about what you are doing or why. This is why clarity is the first step. We become distracted and start spinning our wheels when we are not clear. As soon as you find clarity, you ignite your drive and the second step, cultivating the ability to focus like a laser, becomes a whole lot easier.

The third step isn’t really so much of a step as it is the result of clarity and focus. My favorite book, The Alchemist, tells us, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” But you have to make sure you really know what you want.

When we are unclear and wishy-washy, the universe doesn’t know what to do and so, it does nothing. {Tweet it!}

There are, of course, specific actions I take that make it even easier for me to focus:

Blocking Time
I have a full-time job, teach a class at Miami Ad School, and get on at least four coaching calls a week. It can be a lot. I set aside about half a day on Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays to write blog posts, prepare for my class, and take coaching calls. The other parts of my weekend are for relaxing or socializing, though I often prefer to socialize during the week as it requires less pointed energy after a long day at the office.

Limiting Unproductive Distractions
My favorite place to work is a coffee shop because I can’t watch TV, can’t clean, and since I don’t want to be rude to the people around me, can’t chat to friends on my phone. I put on my headphones so I can listen to my music and plug away for 3-4 hours at a time. I’ll take mini-breaks to grab food or a beverage but other than that I’m focused on my work the whole time.

Enlisting the Help of Coaches
Right now, I have two main people I turn to for coaching. One is a business coach and one is more of a personal coach who also helps me with professional dilemmas. Coaches know your goals. When you lose focus, they point it out to you and get you back on track.

Reward Systems
I reward myself with a nice dinner, a night out with friends, or a few hours of Hulu after a good day’s work. If I worked sun up till sun down, I would go insane and the work would certainly suffer. Play and relaxation are important. They keep our brains fresh and our hearts happy.

Deadlines
This is arguably the most crucial of the list. Whether it is part of a full on action plan or a simple to do list, you must set specific deadlines for yourself and your work. You must also write these deadlines down so you can refer back to them as needed. Otherwise, if you are a procrastinator and prone to feelings of overwhelm, you will freak out when you have to do everything last minute or you just won’t do anything at all. When I designed my website, I had a specific deadline to have the necessary assets up. I needed the images and content in place by my attendance at a seminar in July so that I could send the people I met at the seminar to a legitimate website. This deadline is the main reason I was able to design the site, write the content, find a photographer, and complete a photo shoot in less than two months.

The people I coach often laugh at me each time they get off course or start telling me long-winded stories because I immediately redirect them by shouting the word “Laser!” They laugh because they know I’m calling them out on their sort of BS, (which we all have by the way) and then they are back on task at hand in seconds. The next time you feel distracted or out of focus, imagine a person you trust yelling “laser!” in your ear. But don’t make yourself wrong or give in to feelings of guilt for wasting time or feeling lazy. Rather, shift your attention back to motivation and pointed energy and get on with it.