How to Get Back on Track When You Lose Focus

Two days ago, my host reminded me that my service expires in a few weeks. I thought “What the f**k?!”. The notice didn’t surprise me. It’s what I did since I first registered this site back in October 2016. What the hell have I done all this time? What happened to consistency, small everyday efforts and beating procrastination? I’m not ashamed to admit it but the beast got the best of me these past few months.

I lost the focus on my goals. I didn’t know where I was heading with the blog after changing its name to The Ambition Game. All the work I did before the name change remains but I looked back and realized nothing had been done since. Ok, I did have the site redesigned but that doesn’t bring you anything valuable. It’s easy to blame circumstances. Taking a look back at the last year, it would be convenient for me to say life got in the way. There are many excuses I can come up with. Moving to Europe, learning a new language, looking for jobs, not being able to find one, stressing about money, running out and coming back to Canada, getting a new job here, blah blah blah… bullshit!

None of this should have prevented me from creating content but I let it anyway. I was active for about 6 weeks out of 52 in 2016. That’s a whopping 11.5% of fail right there. But is it really? It’s the kind of wake-up call that says “You fucked up”. Most would concede victory to their excuses, call it a day and move on. That’s not how you reach your goals and that’s not how I roll. Now, I’m back on track. It’s time for you to get back on track too.

I Don’t Have Enough Time!

The lack of time excuse is not true. Since you don’t have time, you will first figure out where your time is spent. Let’s do some basic math here. There are 168 hours in a week. Assuming you work a regular full-time job and sleep on average 8 hours per night, both activities take about 96 hours per week. You have 72 hours left. Since commuting can be productive let’s ignore it. Now, let’s assume you take on average 3 hours a day food, chores and cleaning. That’s another 21 hours gone. 61 hours remain. You now have enough time for a second full-time job and about 3 hours of leisure time per day. What’s your excuse?

Please don’t take on a second job but I hope you realize how much free time you have left per week to get it done. Unless you pack your schedule so tight you don’t leave time to breathe, you should still have enough time to put in a few hours a week. Don’t make excuses. Instead, make the time available in your schedule. If you don’t plan you’ll never get anything done. Also, figure out what is eating up all your time and be consistent!

Track Your habits

To start, track your every habit for about a week or two. Track how much time you’re trying to be productive and how much of it is sabotaged by distractions or the prospect of entertainment. Since we live in a world filled with too much noise and distractions, it’s far too easy to get bogged down in busyness instead of productivity. For every attempt at being productive, note every time you get distracted by something. How often have you watched just one more video and ended up wasting an extra 2 hours of your day?

It happens to me all the time but, luckily by tracking my time I became aware that I am a perpetual snoozer in the morning. I constantly look for alerts on my phone and Facebook, answering every message along the way when I work. But it never ends there, does it? From the message I just replied, an interesting post catches my eye and another and oh kitties on YouTube! There went my productivity out the window without fail every damn time. I also read book after book, watch tutorials and do courses convincing myself that the more I do the more I’ll be confident and motivated to act.

The biggest time killer for me is the anticipation of relaxing. After a day of work, I was looking forward to relaxing when I should be looking forward to work on my hustle instead. By the time I get home, my mind is so set on the need to relax that any thoughts of productivity disappear. What’s your biggest time drains?

Once you’ve identified where your time is lost, make an active effort to eliminate them from your routine. Because these are habits, they’ll take quite a while to undo but it’s possible with consistency.

Focus on Consistency

The more you work the more opportunities you have to eliminate distractions and be productive. Don’t wait until you have a good chunk of time to do something. It’s an excuse not to do the work now. Just make constant small efforts every single day. By doing something more often for a shorter amount of time, you are more likely to do it consistently.

To track my consistency, I use a habit tracker such as Habit Bull for Android phones. It helps me figure out what I need to be consistent with every day. You can track yours on paper if you want. Just make sure to track everything. The important thing is to commit to creating new habits by being consistent day in and day out. I already covered habits here. Also, here’s a list of habit trackers: Here.

Please don’t spread yourself too thin on too many things at the same time. If you do, you’ll end up discouraged at the lack of progress and the constant context switching that will make your brain spin. Ultimately, you might stop tracking everything and let your priorities vanish into thin air. This is one of the major reasons why this post has been written. I tried to work on too many projects at the same time and burnt myself out while trying to keep up with my obligations. I stopped everything.

Take it slow. Focus on as few projects as you can until you become confident enough to take on more. Start with one and build from there. It’s also a great idea to have someone check on you to make sure you remain consistent with your progress.

Accountability is Critical

An important factor in getting back on track is to look for accountability. It’s easy to be held accountable at school or at work. If you don’t do your job, you fail your classes or get fired. But when all you have is yourself to rely on to get things done, it goes south most of the time. No matter how motivated you are, there will always come a time where you start slacking off or outright give up.

In order to prevent this from happening, I strongly suggest getting an accountability partner. This is someone who will make sure you get shit done. You can ask a friend, your wife, a colleague or whoever you know and trust. Take your accountability partner seriously. If your wife nagging you only serves to annoy you rather than pushing you to get the work done, you need someone else to get your ass in gear.

To ensure you remain accountable, put something real on the line that has a negative impact on you if you don’t uphold your end of the bargain. Be creative with it but make sure the consequences will hurt if you fail to be consistent and make progress. My favorite way to do this is to get a coach. Not only do you have to pay for their services but they also take the time to help you keep focused. It’s expensive but it is one of the best investments you can make. It’s just dumb to pay up and not do the work. I’ve used coaches in the past with some great results and continue to do so whenever possible.

Recap

So there you have it, if you lost your focus on the big prize, it’s not the end of the world. You simply need to reassess your situation and figure out a way to get back on track. If you are able to identify what wastes your time, actively seek out to eliminate distractions and consistently work a bit every day, you’ll get your drive back and slowly but surely make your way to the finish line. If you also get someone to help you stay focused and accountable, there might be nothing left on your way to success just like I’m doing now after more than 6 months without a single post.