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Succeeding at Life: Doing Focused Work

George Grombacher May 11, 2022

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Succeeding at Life: Doing Focused Work

Is succeeding at life a priority for you?


Do you want to get better? 


Is there something specific you’re working on ? Something you’re trying to get started or finish? 


“Wanting” is the first step. Desire is the common denominator of success. 


From there, you have to know how. You have to have the right tools or skills to get the job done or complete your task. 


For many of us, that skill is the ability to focus. To put single-minded determination to work in our lives. 

Can you think of a time when you were hyper-focused on one thing? What was it? Did you get the results you wanted? 


I bet you did. 


Single-minded determination and focus are the antidotes to inefficiency. When you want something bad enough, and you devote all your energy towards getting it, that’s a powerful combination. 


Whatever you thought of when I asked you about the last time you were hyper-focused, I want you to shift that focus to your everyday life. I want to talk about how to do focused work everyday, and the impact it can have. 


Here’s what we’ll cover:


  • What is focused work?

  • What’s the impact/benefit of doing it?

  • How to do it


Let’s get started.


What is focused work?


In 2012, Georgetown Profession Cal Newport wrote a blog post which became the best-selling book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In it, he defines deep work as:


“Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”


Focused work is the opposite of multitasking. It’s doing one thing at a time, and doing that one thing with everything you’ve got. 


It’s also a skill which needs to be learned, and a practice which must be turned into a habit. 


What’s the impact/benefit of doing it?


We all have a lot going on. There are constant assaults on our attention, and limitless opportunities to be distracted. Combine that with the reality our minds are wandering half the time (if we’re not careful) and it’s a perfect storm of not getting things done. 


Engaging in focused work can help us to become more productive. If we can incorporate it into our lives and make it a habit, I think the sky’s the limit for what you can accomplish. When we start doing more in less time, our lives get better. 


Therefore, doing focused work will improve your life. 


How to do it


Some people can afford to focus exclusively on one thing all the time. If this is you, great! For the rest of us, we’re going to have to split our time between doing focused work, and doing what needs to be done. 


The first step is to set the intention, then back it up with your calendar. Decide when you can find windows of time to dedicate for focused work and put them into your schedule. Label these times as “focused work.” 


If you can do it everyday, great! The more often you can make time for it, the better. 


How long should I do it for?

When you’re starting out, you should do it for as long as you can. I mentioned this was a skill which needs to be learned and eventually mastered. You’ll get better at it as you do more of it. 


The idea is to set the amount of time in advance, and work as hard and as focused as you can for that amount of time. As you get better, you’ll produce more in a shorter amount of time. That’s the brilliance of it. 


Environmental factors


Decide where you’ll do your work. Make sure it’s somewhere without distractions so you’re not setting yourself up for failure (don’t try and do it in your favorite coffee shop where lots of people will want to stop and say hi). 


Make sure you have what you need to do the work. Think about coffee, water, snacks, the right equipment or tools (paper, computer, etc) so you won’t have to stop to go and get something. 


Cut yourself off from email, social media, phone calls, and any other potential interruptions. If you’re going to be working on your computer, you need to be ruthless with yourself to avoid favorite sites and or email. 


Other opportunities


Outside of your scheduled sessions, you’ll have opportunities for focused work pop up. Someone will cancel on you, or you’ll be early, etc. When this happens, resist the impulse to waste the time scrolling through social or catching up on email, and jump on 20 minutes of focused work. 


As you do more of it, the faster you’ll be able to go into that mode. The more you’re in the focused work mode, the more you’ll be getting done.   


Celebrate your success


Everytime you successfully complete a focused work session, give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve strengthened that muscle and gotten better. Great work!




Decide you want to do something. Learn how to do it. Start doing the work to make it your reality. Repeat. 


Focused work is a brilliant tool for helping you get what you want. Commit to doing it and block the time into your calendar. Do it now.

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