For decades we’ve all been told about the wonderful benefits of multi-tasking. People who multi-task have been held up as heroes. It’s all been a bunch of hogwash.

In my not-so-humble and completely untrained opinion, multi-tasking is a personality disorder that’s gone out of control.

The real skill you should develop is the ability to focus. I’ve mentioned this skill before – and now I’m on it again, it’s that important.

When I was working as a Mobile Intensive Care Paramedic in a very rough, urban part of New Jersey, I was regarded as a top-of-the-line hotshot Medic. Many people thought I had extraordinary skills. Others thought I had some spiritual insight into what was happening with the patient.

It was none of that.

It was simply my ability to focus. Regardless of what was going on around me – screaming, gunshots, sirens, panic, whatever – I was able to focus 100% on the instruments and equipment I was using to evaluate the patient. I was able to focus on the signs and symptoms. I was able to focus on the effect the medication I was giving the patient was having.

So actually, it was pretty easy to look like a hotshot. While others were multi-tasking – setting up IVs, controlling crowds, getting other equipment ready, looking around to see where various noises were coming from – I was focusing.

The same is true in business. I’m extremely successful in business. I owe a lot of that to my ability to focus on one thing at a time and bring it to completion.

I’ll bet there are other people better than me at marketing and maybe even publicity. (Nah, forget that part about anyone being better than me at publicity. That’s not possible).

They may be better than me at marketing, but I’m far more successful than they are because I can focus far better than they can.

Forget about learning more. Forget about hiring more people. Forget about setting your 5, 10 and 20 year goals. Focus on the one thing you want to accomplish today that will make you more money.

Do you want to finish a sales letter today? Do you want to mail out that letter today? Do you want to turn that sales letter into a web page today? Do you want to drive more traffic to your website today? Do you want to hire someone to write that sales letter today? Do you want to hire someone to turn your sales letter into a money-making web page today? Do you want to write just one press release today (hey, there’s a great idea!)?

Pick ONE thing you can complete today. You might not be able to complete an entire sales letter today, but you can complete another paragraph.

Stop being distracted by the every shiny object that passes in front of you and instead FOCUS.

Start by focusing on small things. Focus on writing ONE headline for a press release today. Then make your tasks bigger and bigger as you get better at focusing.

I am living a life that 99.9% of the people on earth would envy. I got all of this simply because I took the time and effort to learn how to focus. Then I practiced focusing. Then I put my focusing ability into action.

So let that goofball next to you talk on his cell phone, use his blackberry, drink his coffee, talk into his digital recorder…all while he’s driving.

You practice focusing on just one thing today.

That’s one of the great secrets of the universe.

Now I’ve got to focus on getting ready to go into town and having breakfast with my friend Brian.

I’ll be back! And you’d better focus on every word I say, because it’s the truth.

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  1. David Portney Says:

    Hi Paul,

    To throw in my 2 cents, people do need to focus better – and here’s my take on what focus really is:

    Focus is NOT unwavering, non-stop, total concentration. Most people think that’s what focus is – and monks sit in meditation for decades trying to achieve that level of mental focus. Very difficult, the mind naturally wanders… thought arise, a dog barks… inside and out there’s always something happening.

    I say forget about trying to achieve unswerving, steady, staunch concentration. Instead, become a master of SCREENING OUT distractions, both inner and outer. Distractions come up and ruin our focus only when we then pay attention to them – instead dismiss them as soon as they come into awareness, as they undoubtedly will.

    Screening out distraction is actually easier than trying to maintain laser-like concentration – and while that may seem like “hair splitting” it’s not: screening out distraction is “Aikido-like”, you’re just going with the flow and using your “opponents” force to achieve your desired result and you don’t get worn out that way. Opposing distraction and forcing concentration is actually stopping the flow, creates tension, and wears you out.

    Naturally, if we become so absorbed into the activity at hand that nothing else seems to exist, time flies, and we’re in a flow with that activity, that’s optimal. But barring that, screening is the key.

    David

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