Focus is a skill and it’s a more complicated one than you might think. I have a wandering mind that never quits, so learning how to focus has been crucial for me. As such, I wanted to share some of the strategies I’ve used to optimize my focus, in case they might help you, too.
Being able to direct your focus will help you reach greater heights in your life and career.
Optimize Your Social Media
Your social media feed is what you make it. It may be filled with distractions and negativity, but it can also be an incredible resource if you curate it well and use it with intention.
How do you do that?
1. Follow fewer people.
No, you don’t have to follow everyone you know.
“Unfollowing” is not the same as “unfriending” — you can remain connected with people and still not have to see every little complaint or quibble they post on social media.
If you feel uncomfortable hitting “unfollow,” most networks offer a “hide posts” or “mute” option for specific accounts. You can use this option to clear their posts from your feed without them knowing.
Trim your feed to the point where you want to read everything.
2. Follow people you can learn from and want to connect with.
Follow people who add value to your life, who inspire you and get you excited to take on each and every new challenge.
Find people who share their wisdom about your chosen pursuits. Include people who have the career you wish to have, are professionals you want to collaborate with, and who share art or information that inspires you.
3. Follow who your favorite people follow.
When you find someone whose posts resonate with you, look to see who they follow. Most likely the people influencing them are worth following as well.
4. Limit your social media time.
Social media can no doubt be a positive influence on your life and career but it can also completely derail you from your goals.
Once you’ve curated your social media feed, you should be able to get more from it in a shorter burst of time. That way, you can turn the inspiration you get from social media into actionable, real-life goals.
If you need help limiting your social media use, try using screentime or an app like Freedom.
5. Consume other forms of media.
Read books, dive into essays, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries — when you feel like you want to fall into a social media hole, try diverting your attention to something constructive and educational.
There is no shortage of compelling media out there.
Books, Podcasts, and Publications
Speaking of… sometimes all that media can feel a little overwhelming. Here are a few ways to optimize the media you consume:
1. Consume curators instead of individual publications.
Reading the trades is important for anybody trying to make it in entertainment but it shouldn’t be all you read. Sure, check out Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and The Wrap daily but go beyond them, too.
Try to find curated sources that summarize the important information from those publications while adding value in other ways. A few of my favorites are The Pudding, Stratchery, and Trapital. They each get me thinking about the news in fresh ways.
2. Read to the point and move on.
You don’t have to read every single page to get the point and understand the lessons.
Nobody has the time to churn through their booklist by reading every page so get creative with how you consume them. You can watch video summaries of most books on YouTube in about 15 minutes and there are a number of summary services that will let you “read” or listen to a book in the same time.
3. Podcasts are a cheat code.
I love podcasts. So many creatives do podcasts these days, including many authors. Listening to one podcast interview with an author talking about their book is practically equivalent to reading the book.
Honestly, it may even be better than reading the book because you’ll gain some bonus context from the author. Likewise, if the beginning of a podcast episode isn’t interesting, don’t feel like you have to listen to the whole thing.
Move on to something better — not everything’s going to be a winner. Some of my favorite podcasts are Joe Rogan, Brian Koppelman’s The Moment, and Marc Maron’s WTF.
1. Spend your time with people who have a positive impact on your life
Focus is precious and finite. te. Give your time and focus to people who have a positive impact on your life and mindset.
The difference between having coffee with a friend who complains for an hour about how hard it is to get work and spending that same hour with another friend who is producing their own YouTube series is like apples and, well, rotten apples.
2. Put yourself in the right places
Put yourself in places where happy accidents can happen.
You might not need to take a screenwriting workshop to improve your skills, but a weekly meeting with other writers will build your network and give you some added accountability. You might even meet a collaborator.
Growing your network is essential in this business and you should do it with focus and attention.
3. Focus on people you can help
Some of your focus should also go to people who know less than you or are struggling with things you’ve mastered.
It feels good to give back, of course, but helping others also helps you improve and verify your own skills. The best way to really understand something is by teaching it.
Plus, karma is real! Pay it forward and good things will happen.
Learning how to direct your focus intentionally can change your life. Take time to reflect on what you consume and identify what is and what isn’t serving you. Then, follow the inspiration you do keep, picking media and people that feed your mind and soul.
And don’t forget to share that inspiration with others.