Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Summary: Focus - A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction - Written by Leo Babauta

I have some of the other works from Leo and he has an excellent mindset. To accomplish high value task and achieve goals, focus is required. To help in my quest to understand focus, I read this book.

Why is this important to me?

I don't want to waste your time. If you are investing your time reviewing this summary then it has to be worth it for you. Marcus Aurelius said: Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you'll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, "Is this necessary?"

Pablo Picasso - Without great solitude no serious work is possible. These two quotes have real power once they are implemented.

Focus is divided into 4 major parts. For the sake of time, I will touch on a concept in each section.

1. Step Back - Email, web browsing, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. All of these mediums spell one thing - Distraction. Distraction creates stress and wastes time. In May 2011, Americans spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook. On average people spend 24 hours per week watching TV and surfing the web. That equates to three full time working days per week. Needless to say, these stats clearly show that people are distracted.

2. Clearing the Stream - Focus requires setting a schedule. So one way to clear some of the distractions is to schedule your internet time. Once you put this on the calendar, you can monitor how much time you are truly spending on these activities. This also consolidates your usage and makes you more productive because you are focused on just the internet. Once the time is up then disconnect and tend to your other tasks.

3. Simplify - One excellent technique to simplifying your life is to de-clutter. This means eliminate the non-essentials. Clear off your desk and have a clean working environment. This will eliminate distractions. If you have a stack of crap on your desk then go through it and make a decision - File, Trash or Donate. Make the decision quick and move on. You can do this in your house as well. Having a minimalist life style reduces stress so you can use the same process for your house as you do your desk at work.

Focus - Now that you have performed the first three steps, you can focus on what is meaningful. Decide what the top five priorities are each day and focus on those. Single task each priority until they are done. Multi-tasking on high value tasks does NOT work. Multi-tasking is a recipe for mediocre work and frustrated peers. Have you ever had a conversation with somebody while they are reading email?

Focus is a quick book to read and provides functional "how to" tactics so that you can accomplish high value tasks. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you eliminate the non-essentials.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is to de-clutter. Start de-cluttering your work space and house each day. Do this for 21 days and see how much better you are able to focus on what is really important.

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