How to Design a Lifestyle That Eliminates Distraction and Enables Hyper-Focus
“Network tools [like social media, email, the Internet] are distracting us from work that requires unbroken concentration, while simultaneously degrading our capacity to remain focused.” -Cal Newport
The world wants you to be distracted.
There’s a fortune to be made off your distraction. Television, streaming services, movie studios, social media, apps, video games, smart phone companies, and countless other billion-dollar industries have but one goal:
To make you watch their stuff.
It doesn’t matter if this content is actually bad for you. Doesn’t matter if this graphic media makes you feel sick, depressed, sad, angry, or afraid. It doesn’t matter if it’s addictive or hurtful. Lower ratings only means failure for them.
Best-selling author James Altucher once quipped, “Ninety-nine percent of TV is about scandal, murder, and cheating.” He’s right. And garbage in, garbage out; if you flood your mind with this toxic content, you’ll begin to absorb it and see it in your life. Again, this doesn’t matter to the companies selling the stuff — what matters is the money.
Distractions are the enemy. Distractions destroy creativity, momentum, and focus. They seek to dominate you, much like the addiction seeks to dominate the addict. They will if you let them.
If you want to cultivate a lifestyle that enables intense focus every day, where your influence is enormous and your efforts are hyper-concentrated to create incredible results…
You must remove all barriers that make this possible. Here’s how to eliminate all the distractions that prevent you from achieving 10x results.
“All around you is an environment that is trying to pull you down to Second-Class street.” -David Schwartz
Distractions Only Exist Because You Allow Them To
The moment you accept responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is the moment you can change ANYTHING in your life.” -Hal Elrod
If you are ever distracted by:
- Negative people
- The news
…it’s because you’ve allowed yourself to be distracted.
Your life is not unlike a business, and whether you like it or not, you are the CEO. If your business is failing, losing assets, and generally declining, it’s because of you.
Most people don’t want this responsibility. They want to blame everything around them but themselves.
The truth is, if you’re distracted, it’s because you’ve allowed it to happen. Tony Robbins once said, “What we tolerate is what we get.” If you tolerate mediocrity, that’s what you’ll get.
It’s time to take your life back. Back from the news, your boss, the economy, your upbringing, and Donald Trump’s latest tweet. Nothing else matters.
Nothing can distract you.
No one can derail you.
But they can, if you let them.
“You see, it’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in the past that determines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them, that will determine your ultimate destiny.” -Tony Robbins
How to Consistently Enter Flow States
“You can’t change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” -Jim Rohn
Most people can’t remember the last time they entered a flow state.
A flow state is when time seems to stand still as you glide through it. It’s when nothing can distract you or stop you. It’s how you can complete 10x the results, 10x as fast.
The idea of flow has been popularized through sports, where professional athletes often describe the feeling of succeeding on the field. Gold medalists, Tour de France winners, and World Cup champions, have all repeatedly recounted how they were in flow states for their winning performances.
But how can you reach this level, consistently?
First, you must enter them at regular intervals, developing a rhythm. Consistently following routines creates physiological energy spikes.
When you routinely make time to operate at your peak level, your peak level will become routine.
This saves immense energy and attention that is typically wasted by sporadically choosing random things.
“When you build a habit, you don’t have to spend mental energy deciding what to do.” -David Kadavy, Love Your Work podcast
I do this by waking up at the same time most mornings. I do the same routine, too: I brush my teeth, turn on the coffee, journal, read my Bible, pray, and start writing. It’s automatic, and I consistently enter flow states during that writing phase.
Next, you must remove emotional baggages that block your progress and mental focus. Whatever garbage and junk that has dirtied your perspective must be eliminated.
One of my favorite ways of doing this is through the above-mentioned morning journaling. American playwright Julia Cameron once said morning journaling is like “spiritual windshield wipers.” I can easily remove distracting emotional baggage and focus on my task at hand.
Perhaps one of the most well-known ancient maxims is the Greek phrase: “Know thyself.” It is only through mastering your own system — your emotions, your thoughts, your brain, your desires, your weaknesses — that you become the master of your soul.
Once you do this, distractions fade away. Entering flow states becomes easier and easier.
“When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.” -Steven Pressfield
Reinvest Your Free Time
“Anyone who truly makes something of themselves takes their free time and reinvests it in themselves.” -Nicolas Cole
Most people don’t reinvest their free time.
- According to a 2016 American Time Use Survey, most Americans spend 2.7 hours after work watching television — about half their free time.
- Nearly a third of people didn’t touch a book in the past year.
- Less than 5% of adults exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.
Most people don’t exercise, read books, or spend meaningful time with loved ones. That means if you went for a jog today and read for just 10 minutes, you’re already way ahead of the curve!
The world’s most successful people invest their free time. In the words of prolific writer Nicolas Cole:
“Successful people don’t see it as ‘free time,’ they see it as the only time they have to do the things they really want to do in life — and they don’t take a minute for granted.”
Scott Adams, creator of the wildly successful Dilbert comics, once said, “Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.”
Robert Kiyosaki, author of the famous Rich Dad Poor Dad books, teaches that the world’s wealthiest people were simply the ones who continually reinvested their profits into more assets.
If you want to be successful, and focus your efforts to achieve greatness in the most important areas of your life, it’s fair to ask yourself:
- How do you spend your free time?
- What activities drain your energy and leave you lifeless?
- Why do you continue to waste your free time?
Is excessive consumption of social media, the news, television, and video games preventing you from being successful?
I recently had to take a hiatus from the NBA. I’ve allowed myself to watch my team’s highlights, but that’s it. No more reading about the latest gossip with LeBron. No more checking the latest trades within 2 minutes of waking up. No more daily status updates of players I don’t even care about.
It had become destructive behavior, and my success was beginning to wane. I was wasting away hours a day I could have spent on reading, improving, and learning. It simply wasn’t, and isn’t, worth it.
I’m not saying you can’t have any free time where you relax. But most people are bad at using their free time wisely, and often waste it.
Many people claim they want to be successful, but do they really? If you claim to value something, but your behavior shows the opposite, then you actually don’t have that value. Not really.
Develop Your Ability to Ignore Almost Everything
“If we organize the majority of our work time around applying the principles of greatness, and stop and ignore everything else, our lives would be simple and our results vastly improved.” -Jim Collins, Good to Great
Most things are unimportant.
Most things, frankly, don’t deserve our full attention and focus.
What I define as “important” is simple: does it contribute to expanding your life? Does it directly build your legacy and life’s calling? Does it give you life and fulfillment?
When it comes down to it, the most important things for me are Jesus, family, my health, and my work. Everything else simply comes second.
Of course, anything can be construed to fit these requirements; email is “essential.” Working overtime is nonnegotiable. Watching that TV show is a “must-see.” You “can’t miss” going out for drinks again.
But when you really, truly analyze these “essential” and “crucial” obligations, you realize they have virtually no impact on your future. They don’t expand your life. They don’t contribute to your legacy.
“Ignore what other people are doing. Ignore what’s going on around you. There is no competition. There is no objective benchmark to hit. There is simply the best you can do — that’s all that matters.” -Ryan Holiday
The more you understand this, the better equipped you are to produce truly phenomenal work.
What “essential” things do you need to give up?
What do you need to start ignoring?
How can you spend that time better?
Why haven’t you started these things yet?
For me, I check my email twice a day (sometimes once. Sometimes zero! I like those days). I also never check it unless I’m able to respond immediately.
I ignore social media like the plague. I can’t stand it. My wife laughs at my distaste for it, but all I see is a bunch of ads, clickbait, and mindless entertainment that leaves me feeling empty and sad.
Your ability to ignore irrelevance is just as important as your ability to focus on priorities.
“Being perpetually busy is a kind of laziness.” -Tim Ferriss
“The fact is: You are not a manager of circumstance, you’re the architect of your life’s experience.” — Tony Robbins
If you want to eliminate distractions and cultivate a lifestyle that enables daily hyper-focus, you must do what others are unwilling to do.
You must unapologetically categorize everything into two categories: important, and unimportant. If you allow mediocrity into your life, your life will become mediocre. Remember, what we tolerate is what we get.
Author Darren Hardy once wrote: “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.” If you want a life no one else has, you must do what no one else does.
Eliminate distractions. Develop routines and rhythms that enable hyper-focus.
Don’t settle for what is merely good; sacrifice good for what is great.
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