Focus is about saying no – Steve Jobs

Something struck me very deep when I stumbled on this quote. All this while I thought focus only meant fiercely concentrating on what you want to get done, but now I have come to understand that – Focus is more about saying no to distractions! I finished reading Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done…what an amazing read! It has left me with completely fresh perspective on focus and time management.

If you have been struggling with

  • getting things done on time
  • accomplishing right things at the end of the day
  • feeling in control of your life in general,

then improving FOCUS can help you shift from struggle to success. How to improve FOCUS? Here are few things you may want to try:

Figure out what requires attention and what is distraction:

We do not begin our day hoping to be distracted, yet many things come in our way. Some genuinely need our attention and some are plain distraction. Here is a quick exercise: Write down what you want to accomplish in the next 60 mins. At the end of these 60 mins, write down what you actually accomplished. If there is a difference in the two it could be due to: something important came up that required your attention, you got distracted or maybe you hit a roadblock. This analysis done over a week will actually allow you to observe trends and patterns of 1. When you get distracted 2. What distracts you the most 3. If you can set aside some time for things that require your attention so that your work at hand remains uninterrupted.

Organize activities better:

While it’s nice to go with the flow, it’s even better to take the charge to steer the ship of your life in the direction you want. When I say organize better, I do not mean create a time-table or make a to-do list. All I mean to say is – ensure your time is directed towards areas which you have identified as priorities for you. There will be days when certain non priority but unavoidable tasks take more of your time, but overall where is your ship headed – is it simply floating or is it moving in the direction you wish or worst – is it sinking? The more you get involved in activities that are important for your larger goals, the more you will end up accomplishing!

Conscious Choice:

Saying no to a distraction is a conscious choice. All of us have weak moments, the strength lies in consciously saying no to the distraction. It is difficult but it can be done. When faced with such a choice, take one minute to breathe and allow yourself to think about the outcome. When you think of the outcome, it will be easier for you to say NO to the distraction. Record these moments of conscious choices which you thought were difficult for you, at the end of the day – celebrate these moments!

Utilize transition time better:

For me the small time slots are the most annoying. E.g. I go for yoga class at 4:45 and its 4:30 on the clock – 15 mins spare time! For me these 15 mins are too short a time to do anything constructive as my mind will remain fixed on the clock. One day I simply made a list of all the activities I can do in 15 mins which included – surf social media or make dinner preparations or make grocery lists. I pick my activity as per the day’s requirements. This small shift has brought in efficiency, as now these activities do not intrude my productive hours plus help me manage my energy better. Through the day few such – transition times are available and now I utilize those better.

Simple and Sincere mono tasking

There is a lot of research available on how multitasking actually takes us longer to complete tasks vs. doing one thing at a time. Multitasking can cause drop in your productivity and make your work more error prone. It can add to your stress levels and over time can actually damage your brain. It is tempting to surf social media when a webinar is on – let’s be simple and sincere to complete one task at a time. This will ensure lesser errors, lesser stress and more creativity.


We often feel that we need to focus more by doing something with more intensity – Focus can be improved by actually doing lesser of something that hampers your intensity!

Who am I? I am Rupa – You know how people sometimes pursue a profession and then realize they are actually a natural at something else? Yes, that was me! After being in equity research for 9 years I decided to make a major career change and pursue my passion of helping people take their dreams seriously and get into action. If you know someone who might benefit from my coaching, please invite them to contact me by phone or email. As coaching sessions happen over Skype, geography is not a barrier. Visit for more!