January 6th 2019 Focus

Joshes and Joshettes, the first week of the new year has already come to an end. If you have set New Year’s Resolutions (I didn’t) are you keeping up with them? If the answer is no then this post might be able to help with that. Why you ask because today I will talk about focusing.

Since it’s already 2019 you probably have seen hundreds of posts online about what F.O.C.U.S. stands for. Follow One Course Until Successful, google it and you will see thousands of images depicting it this way. Since I’ve broken it down like that you think I’m going to say why you should follow this to a T. Unfortunately I disagree with this acronym completely and by the end of this, you might agree with me. Before I can get into why this acronym is wrong for the modern generation, I have to first put you in my shoes.

On my business cards it says Joshua Rodriguez Author, however, I do a lot more than write books. I blog, podcast, vlog and consult. So if I were to follow this acronym then that means that I should only focus on the task that generates an income, which is writing books. Sounds like a good plan but then you wouldn’t be reading posts like this. I refuse to run ads on my content because I want to give away my knowledge for free. I honestly could write an entire book giving practical advice but I rather make it free. I have received a handful of comments and emails thanking me, for my content. A handful may not sound like a lot but to me, it makes a world of difference because I made a difference in someone’s life. Since I can’t focus on just one endeavor, how do I focus on my entire business as a whole? See that’s the tricky part and that’s why I’m going to start a new paragraph in order to talk about it.

Now that you understand why I threw the old F.O.C.U.S. out of the window let’s talk about how I focus. The simple answer is I have a hard time focusing on anything because I start fidgeting. Anyone who has known for years will tell you that I suffer from ADHD (except my mother), so I find it hard to sit still for long durations. Yet as you may have heard many times before in my rants, I was able to finish writing half a book in two weeks by writing for nearly 16 hours a day. So how did a person who constantly squirms in a theater seat accomplish this? First I had to plan out my day, I wrote down in a notepad what I had to accomplish before the end of the day and unless I finished them I could not go to sleep. This was harsh but necessary, I also made sure I woke up at the same time every day (probably the hardest thing). If you watch videos on how to be productive they often say to cut out all distractions and listen to music with no words in order to focus better. To someone like me, that is the worst thing you could possibly do. If I cut off all distractions and put on lyric-less music my mind would wander. In order to focus, I would need to have actual songs playing especially ones with lyrics that I knew, this way I would sing along while typing. I don’t know about you but staring at a computer screen all day and typing is boring. In conjunction with that, I would also have a twitch stream playing unmuted on another monitor (I have three monitors). Yes, you read that correctly not only did I have music playing but I also had a live stream (mostly Summit1G) open on another monitor. My brain is weird but all this noise actually helped me focus because after a while I couldn’t “hear” any of it. I put “hear” in quotations because when I’m focusing on something my brain cuts out everything else. Which is why when someone talks to me while I am writing I often don’t hear them. Other than that I always had an electric kettle filled with hot water. Even though I love coffee to death, I only drink tea in a hardcore writing session (over 10 cups). The final thing I use to help me focus on anything is a pen or a Starbucks’ Splash Stick (the green thing you put to stop coffee from spilling). I have a little quirk in which I take a pen or splash stick and put it on my left ear. This might sound weird but by focusing on the feeling of having it on my ear I can cut out the “noise” and direct my focus back to the task at hand.

So, Josh, that was back then when you were only focused on writing a book how do you focus now? Now that I’m juggling many different projects, it’s harder to focus but some of my practices have carried over. I still don’t allow myself to go to bed until the work is completed (unless pain medication is used for my shoulder and neck). I’ve been waking up a lot earlier these days and am on my way to waking up the same time every day. But the most important thing I’ve noticed is to plan out the entire day in its entirety. So let’s use last Thursday as an example. Last Thursday I woke up at 6:15 and was out of my house by 7:30. I listened to an audiobook on the train which was packed because of rush hour. At 9 am I was at a job site consulting. After a meeting with some subcontractors, I was having a coffee at Starbucks with a business owner friend to figure out his needs by 10. At 10:30 I was riding the train back to Brooklyn so that I could make it into work by 11:30. I got to work on time and I worked until my lunch break (3:30). For my hour lunch, I backed up all my work from the morning and spent the rest of my break working on a blog post. I worked until 8:30 pm and then I walked home for twenty minutes while listening to an audiobook. Once I reached home I plugged in my laptop to charge it up while I ate. Then by 9:30 pm, I was working on completing the blog post that would go live on Friday morning. By 11 pm that post was completed and I now had to work on my podcast. I was running on about four hours of sleep and in pain from lugging equipment in my book bag all day but I had to persevere. I told myself that if I recorded the podcast and uploaded it on all medians then I can smoke the Cuban cigar I had received earlier that day. So when I was rendering the video I went outside at 12:45 am and smoked my cigar (or at least tried to, only smoked for fifteen minutes). At a little after 1 am I uploaded the video to YouTube and Facebook (thank you gigabit internet). I stayed talking with my father until 3 am bouncing ideas off him. At 3:30 am I took a muscle relaxer and headed to bed.

The only reason that day went as well as it did was because I planned it out. The day before that I woke up at 9 to be at work at 10. I worked until 8 pm and went home and read a little then wrote for a bit. When I looked at my watch it was already midnight and I still hadn’t finished the chapter I was on. Two days yet the second one was more productive because I had planned it out. Since I realized that planning is the only way I can make sure to complete my tasks, I decided to plan out this day (Sunday, January 6th, 2019). I am currently sitting in General Assembly in Manhattan typing away. I’ve been here since about 11 am and plan on finishing this post by 1:30 pm. Why did I leave my home and travel an hour to do something I can do from the comfort of my bed? To help me focus, I am too comfortable at home and thus I often don’t accomplish everything I set out to do. Also since I am here with a friend they can keep me accountable. That is a big way to make sure you complete your tasks is accountability. So after I finish this post I’m going to work on finishing chapter four of Private Eye 2. Since that task is a bit harder than a blog post I will have to take breaks. In these breaks, I will be closing my laptop and working using pen and paper. I will be working in some scripts and plan of actions for my brand. So all in all a productive day.

So now that I’ve outlined how I focus, how does not following the acronym help you. When I woke up I launched LinkedIn on my phone (hate notifications on my phone that red number irks me), the first thing I saw was a cartoon that Gary Vee uploaded. It was a person telling him that they reached over 100k followers on Twitter and he replied: “How about LinkedIn.” That shows that in the modern age you can’t only follow one course until successful you need to diversify and follow multiple courses. Don’t just take it from me or Gary, remember the old saying; Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Warren Buffet is known for telling investors to invest in index funds but he also says to invest your money and don’t look at your portfolio. I translate this as Warren saying you can be an investor but don’t only focus on your portfolio. Say none of these apply to you, why should you not follow this acronym? Let’s say that you work a traditional job, you can’t only focus on your job. Look at all the massive layoffs that have happened to companies like Sears, General Motors, Toys R Us and many more. No job is truly secure anymore and that’s why learning another skill or having a side hustle is important. Josh, that doesn’t apply to me because I own my own business is what some people are saying to themselves. Unfortunately, you can’t focus on only the products and services that you offer. Remember no one product lasts forever which means you have to create new products and services. Which in turn means you have to direct some attention to R&D (research and development), aka not follow the acronym.

Josh, I have sat here and read almost two thousand words, if F.O.C.U.S. doesn’t work what does? In my opinion, Focus is when three things meet. Focus = Goals + Planning + Motivation. Sounds ridiculous but just hear me out. We all start with a goal which is why we create New Year’s Resolutions. In order to make this easy to follow, let’s say your goal is to get in shape for the new year. You then need a plan which in this case would be to eat healthier and go to the gym a couple of times a week. In order to focus you need to have the right motivation aka your Why. If you want to lose weight just so you look nice in a swimsuit more than likely you won’t stick to the plan for long. But if the reason you want to lose weight is so that you can be healthier and live longer so that you can see your kids grow up, you have a better chance of hitting your goal. You may be saying to yourself this example has nothing to do with focusing but it does. If all three criteria align then you will automatically gain the ability to focus. Let’s say you’re a single parent and you take online college classes. Your goal is to pass your class and graduate but in order to do accomplish this, your plan is to get a great grade on your final project. If your motivation for graduating is so that you can get a better career and provide for your family then there is no way that you’re not focused. Your motivation aka your Why is the reason you’re not focused.

If you just skipped to the last paragraph or if you did not understand the last paragraph, then let me say it again. THE REASON YOU ARE NOT FOCUSED IS BECAUSE YOUR WHY IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH. I would love to take credit for that but that comes to you from ET (Eric Thomas) the hip-hop preacher. If you aren’t able to wake up early in the morning to work on your hustle or yourself, or if you often find yourself watching Netflix rather than working, then you don’t want it bad enough. Because if you want it bad enough then you would put in the work no matter what.

End of the day just do me a favor and Make It Happen.