Book Club: Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
Achieve More by Doing Less
As great as technology is, it also has the huge downside of being a massive distraction. Leveraging technology without being intentional and focused usually spells disaster for you, in life and in business.
But it’s not just technology that threatens to prevent you from making your entrepreneurial dreams a reality. It’s also just regular life. As a mom who leads a business from home, I have a million things pulling at me all day, every day, and most of them have nothing to do with my business.
My son needs tutoring at school. My daughter has to be at a sports tournament 500 miles away. The football coach needs my son at the field at 6am. It’s time to schedule another college visit. A last minute payment is due for the field trip. It never ends.
These are important aspects of my life, but unless I focus on them individually and intentionally, my brain will overload and I’ll get very little done. Been there, done that.
That’s why I’m so excited to get my hands on an advance copy of the new book, Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt.
I first discovered Michael shortly before he left a traditional job to start his own business. I had done the same years before, so I was especially intrigued to watch someone else do it in real time. His blog and podcast episodes are filled with useful content for entrepreneurs, and his books are always worth reading. (I reviewed one of my favorites, Living Forward, which he co-authored with Daniel Harkavy, in Indie Business Book Club a few years back.)
The book is 223 short pages, and brilliantly edited to eliminate fluff. I plan to dive in fully over the weekend, but in the meantime, here are a few things I’ve learned about how to be free to focus after thumbing the pages for a few minutes.
How to Be Free to Focus
1. First, prioritize the process
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The first few pages of the book emphasize the importance of giving the process the attention it deserves. This is hard for most of us because we live in a microwave economy that says we should snap our fingers and make progress in a short period of time.
Prioritizing the process before you actually start the process maximizes the chances that you’ll experience meaningful progress as you go through the rest of the steps in the book.
For this reason, I’ve blocked out specific time over the weekend to devour this book.
2. Clarify where you want to go, and aim your focus there
With no clear destination, how will we ever know when we arrive?p. 33
It may be tempting to randomly start organizing thousands of pieces of your life, but Michael reminds us that doing this could lead you directly to a place you don’t want to be.
Recognizing and embracing exactly what you really want before you start organizing all the pieces makes it more likely that you’ll end up exactly where you want to be.
3. Eliminate distractions that hold you back
Get a clear picture of which activities truly deserve your time and energy — and which don’t.p. 33
This requires use of a chisel, according to Michael. Tools that are synonyms with a”chisel include a knife and a blade. What that says to me is that this process may be uncomfortable, even painful.
I can think of a few things that I can and should take a chisel (or maybe a hacksaw) to. Confession time: true crime shows. (Thank you Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, OMG!) The more I watch, the more I want to watch.
I plan to take a chisel to my true crime distraction this weekend. I’ll let you know how things go.
4. The game-changing benefits of delegating
First, decide what to delegate.p. 148
There is so much more to this section than just that simple quote, but honestly, deciding what to delegate is where the whole delegation exercise can rise or fall.
Michael breaks the art of delegating down into a process called the Delegation Hierarchy. Here’s an overview.
Ask yourself: What do you do every day that you are either completely disinterested in, that is sheer drudgery to you, or that is just plain distracting. Once you identify those things, you can delegate them to other people or systems. You are now free to focus elsewhere … which leads to …
5. Identify where to focus to produce results
This is one of my favorite sections because it covers the Eisenhower Priority Matrix, which I first discovered in one of my favorite books of all time, Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The Eisenhower Priority Matrix illustrates how categorizing your activities into quadrants helps you be aware of how you spend you time. This empowers you to remain in Zone 2 as much as possible, where your actions are important but not urgent, and consistent with your long term goals.
6. Avoid the “quick downhill break”
Multitaskers indeed work faster. But they also produce less.p. 215
I am so guilty of this: crime shows.
On any given day, as I climb one entrepreneurial mountain after another, I’ll take a quick break to catch the 7-minute update on some random crime happening thousands of miles away, then I’ll switch back to working on whatever project I had started.
It seems harmless, right? Michael says it’s not, and, in the book, he points to research to back that up — including the fact that these little “downhill breaks” serve as my own personal dopamine hit. (What?!)
I cannot wait to read more about that, but for now, it’s enough to know that, as productive as I am, I could be more productive if I stopped taking my little downhill crime show breaks.
For moms who work from home …
As a mom who works from home, I find myself switch tasking by necessity a lot — and it often cannot be helped. Sure, there are large blocks of time, when my kids are in school for example, where I focus on deep work, but as a mother, I am always on call.
At any moment, in the middle of even the most productive time, I can get a call from a child (or a school or a coach or a ….) that forces me to stop everything. It happens multiple times a week, and I find that the more I remain in Zone 2, the less of an adverse impact these forced interruptions have.
I’m looking forward to learning what this book has to say about the unique challenges of focusing when you are a home-based entrepreneur with children in the home.
Life happens, and it’s the rare day when we are not pulled in multiple directions. But creating an approach that frees you up as much as possible to focus on your top priorities is an activity worth engaging in.
I’m happy to have this book to guide me. You can order your copy at my Amazon affiliate link here.
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