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Last week, Adam Axon shared his tips on how he focuses and gets awesome stuff done. We had a great discussion in the comments on his site, and I thought I’d share my personal system here.

What do you do to stay focused?

Cutting the Noise

  1. I only follow about 50 people on Twitter. I actually tend to unfollow more people than I add in any given month, so that number has slowly been going down. On Facebook the number is higher, because it's real life friends who generally don't make a lot of noise (unless you consider LOL cats noise).
  2. I write just one blog. I have just one Twitter account. Reading blogs is my achilles heel. When I have books to read (typically fiction) the number is lower, but I'm between novels right now, so I'm reading blogs like mad to fill the void.
  3. I tend to not watch a lot of TV, so yay there!

Working Smarter

  1. I admit, I'm easily distracted. Worst thing about working at a computer is that there's always something to distract you. I've started doing more of my work "analog" in a Muji notebook when I can.
  2. I check email every half-hour. It's almost never anything useful. That said, on days where I'm in the zone, I'll check it twice - once at the beginning of the day, and once at the end of the day.
  3. I can't always do this, but when I can, I like to pick one project and work on nothing but that all day. I get way more done this way.
  4. I found GTD far too complex. I now use a simple system: - My calendar tells me when I have meetings. - I keep one big to-do list... project headings, with sub-items for all the action steps beneath them. - On most days I use a Fieldnotes notebook for a daily to-do list of 3 - 5 things that need to happen that day.
  5. I also generally ignore my desk phone in the same way I ignore my email. I'll check voicemails periodically, and pick up my cell phone right away.

The Right Fuel

  1. As you know, I've started exercising again. It's made a big difference.
  2. I have an egg-and-cheese sandwich almost every day. As a guilty pleasure, I usually have sausage on it too. Trying to cut that out and replace it with fruit.
  3. I don't drink much coffee, that I do require a daily cup in the morning. I wish I didn't need it.