Is your day focused or consumed by trivia?














Are you being held back by a lack of focus? Do you feel that you are always busy but you don’t achieve your desired results no matter how many hours you work?

Lack of focus, which leads to poor prioritising and a feeling of overwhelm is one of the biggest barriers to success. It has become more common since the blessing (or curse) of the Internet and email.

It is a problem that affects all of us to some degree but especially entrepreneurs, small business owners, professionals and anyone who spends their days doing creative work as opposed to a task oriented job. If your day’s work is dictated by a boss or an imposed schedule, you don’t have as much leeway to decide what to work on.

Why should this be and why should it be a bigger problem in the digital age?

Creating requires thinking. Thinking is hard work, Henry Ford said “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Creative thinking is particularly difficult, most minds will use any excuse to avoid it, any reason to delay it and any trivial activity to justify ignoring it.

Other reasons include:

  • Lack of a structured work environment
  • Distractions
  • Busy work
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Ineffective prioritising
  • Lack of Passion for or sense of purpose in, working towards goal

For those who work from home and on their own, there are the added distractions of children, household chores and other personal intrusions into the work environment.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, most people need between 6 and 8 hours sleep a night so time available for personal and business activities is similar for all of us. Some may spend more time commuting or looking after their children than others, some may elect to allocate more time to exercise, sport or education. Despite those allocations, the majority of us still have several hours each day to work on our businesses, careers or professions. It is what we choose to work on in those hours that makes the difference between success or failure, achieving goals or stagnating, happiness or misery and abundance or lack.

Successful people, those who do achieve their goals and who leave their mark on the world through their contributions, choose to use their time on the very few activities and ideas that move them towards those goals. They focus. It is a choice which we can make too with discipline, commitment and by persevering until those choices become habits.

There are many ideas and tips for using time more effectively. Most recommend devoting a block of time early in the day exclusively to activities that move us closer to our most important goal. Not email, surfing the web, social media or fiddling around with nice but inessential website improvements.

One of the best articles on daily personal productivity I have seen is “How to do the things that matter most” by Mark Ford in Early to Rise . It is well worth reading, a real eye opener is his extraordinary list of what can be achieved in 600 hours and how those hours can be found in a year.

It is too easy to be very busy for hours each day, to learn new skills, new information have an empty email inbox, have tweeted, updated and statused, yet have accomplished nothing substantial, not moved an inch closer to any important goals. Another recent quote was “No one will go down in history for having a tidy email inbox.” This one by Robert Heinlein sums it up ” In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

How well do you focus on the core activities for your goals?

Do you choose to use your time effectively or do you allow yourself to become “enslaved by daily trivia?”

If you cannot answer those questions convincingly and affirmatively, then I challenge you to start working on your most important activity tomorrow for 30 minutes before doing any other work or business related task even if it means getting up earlier. You will be amazed at what you achieve and How Good You Feel. 

Leave your tips, ideas and successes in a comment.

Peter Wright




Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /
Read more Henry Ford quotes at

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  2 comments for “Is your day focused or consumed by trivia?

  1. Roberta
    May 2, 2013 at 6:55 am

    This is going to seem like bragging. It is not meant to be. In many ways it is a curse. I do not know specifically what I do. But from an early age and at my first job while I was in high school I leaned that I am one of those disgusting folk who is organized and gets things done. Don’t know why or how.

    I still don’t understand teachers who cannot fit all subjects into a school day. I got all subjects in. Maybe it was 12 years of all girl Catholic school with the nuns. Some teachers got bogged down collecting lunch money in the morning. I could do attendance, collect money, do penmanship lesson 15 minutes. Why does it have to take 45-60 minutes? I do not know. Seems simple enough to me.

    • May 2, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Not bragging at all, some of the most accomplished people I have met in business never seemed to be in a hurry or overwhelmed. They knew the importance of prioritising and doing the right things rather than being paranoid about doing things right.

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