5 Steps to help you focus and be exceptional at the things that are most important to you

When I first meet someone and we start sharing what we “do”, invariably I get the question, “How do you do all of that?!” This typically comes after I talk about running Dragon Army, sharing the many boards that I’m on, and then letting them know that I started two nonprofits of my own this year (48in48 and Homegrown.)

And this is also usually before I tell them that I have five kids. At which point I get looked at as if I should be committed to an asylum.

The truth is, I don’t work “harder” than everyone else. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus hard on three things in my life and everything else takes a big back seat:

#1 – Family

#2 – Dragon Army

#3 – Community efforts

I have consciously decided to do very little over than those three things. I don’t go to concerts and I rarely go to sporting events. I routinely turn down offers to go to events, especially night events, because it takes away time from my family. I very rarely get to golf, I don’t go on “guys weekends” with my buddies, and I don’t watch much TV* (even though I love TV.) The list of things I don’t do that I’d like to do is very long.

I decided a while back to do a really good job at those three things, and because of that there are trade-offs. I get up at 5:30am every day (weekends included…in fact its 5:45am on a Sunday that I’m writing this blog post.) Weekday mornings, I get up and start knocking out work for a few hours so that I can be home by 5:30pm to spend time with my family. And a few days a week I try to have “get work done” time scheduled for the late afternoons so I can work from my home office, guaranteeing that I’m home on time.

And because I get up so early, I’m wiped by 9:30 or 10pm every night, so I rarely stay up late. Which cuts into that TV time.

So, if you are thinking that you’d like to focus your time more and be the very best you that you can be in a few areas, here are five steps to getting started:

  1. Figure out what’s most important to you and and put a plan together on how much time you need to spend on those things to do them exceedingly well.
  2. Look at all the other things you do in your life that aren’t as important, and figure out how to scale them back.
  3. Get very organized around how you manage your time. I use a combination of my calendar + iOS reminders + Evernote.
  4. Surround yourself with people who can help you be great. I have partners in each of those 3 areas I listed above. Without them, there is no way I could get done as much as I do.
  5. Give it three months. It takes time to build a rhythm like this, so before you pull the plug, give it some time.

What you find over time is that if something you are considering doing doesn’t line up with one of your areas of focus, you don’t do it. Or you find a way to make it make sense. Case in point, I love sharing my experience with young entrepreneurs as they try to get their business going. But if I do that, it takes away time from my areas of focus. So I created Advice For Good, where if someone donates an hour of their time to a nonprofit, I’ll gladly have a call or meet with them. That way, my #3 box gets checked in the process.

* I did binge watch all of Game of Thrones a few months back, leaving me more tired than I should have been during that 10 week period…but it was so worth it :)


  1. Jason Cavness on November 6, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    We all have 168 hours in each week. How we chose to utilize or waste that time is up to us. But if you chose to waste your time, don’t be surprised if you are not as successful as those whose chose to utilize their time.

  2. Adam on November 10, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Great thoughts Jeff, thanks.

  3. Daily Rituals to be Productive - Adam J. Walker on November 11, 2015 at 7:42 am

    […] my routine to make me more productive. Then this morning I read a great post by my friend Jeff on 5 steps to help you focus, which has helped to continue my […]

  4. 5 points on FOCUS - Begin the Begin on April 2, 2018 at 7:14 am

    […] #3 – 5 Steps to help you focus and be exceptional at the things that are most important to you […]

  5. […] maybe this can help get you […]

Leave a Comment