Focus vs. Productivity

A misconception about focus is that it means endless productivity. Yes, focusing for one, two, three hours at a time on a single task is great and essential, but ultimately, operational focus is only a small piece of the puzzle.

What makes a much larger, more strategic contribution is high-level focus — the refusal to engage in long-term distractions — and that means saying no to average opportunities even when the end result is not working at all in the moment.

If your goal is to write a book but you can’t get a single good sentence on the page, you’re better off taking a break than brainstorming how to monetize your Instagram followers. If you want to launch a membership portal but can’t decide which software to use, sleep on it. Going back to working on your online course might be easier, but it’s the wrong activity to spend time on.

This sounds obvious but is extremely challenging to practice on an everyday basis. It is much harder to say no to a mediocre task that’ll still feel productive when you’re exhausted than it is to say yes to an important task when you’re full of energy and excited to get started. But bad high-level focus is better than no high-level focus, and so when in doubt, you should worry about the big picture, not your daily output.

A focused person is not always productive, and a productive person is not always focused. Do your share while sitting at your desk, but more importantly, refuse to do anything that does not contribute to your mission at all. If push comes to shove, choose focus over productivity, because one might seemingly take care of everything, but only the other ensures what truly matters is taken care of when all is said and done.