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Information Filtering and Tools To Increase Focus

It seems like almost every small business owner I meet these days has at least mild ADD. In any case, focus seems to be missing for a lot of people.

Here are a few tricks to support focus…

First, plan each day, and make a very short list of 1-3 high priorities.

Second, use a post-it right in the middle of your desk to remind you of the task you’re focusing on until completion. When that task is done, and you move to the next task, make a new post-it. When you catch yourself straying, come back to the intended focus.

I’m not saying to write your to do list on post-its. You should have an organized list either on your computer, PDA, or paper. However, as you choose which item to do next from your list, or your calendar/schedule, if that item is going to take more than a couple minutes, write it on a post-it and put it right in front of your nose to remind you to stay focused until you complete that task. Then, throw it out and choose the next task. This is great for people who get distracted easily. This will consciously build your “focus-muscles”. It helps you think about tasks in defined, measurable, bite-sized chunks with a beginning and an ending, and to resist interruptions (even your own mind interrupting you) until the task is complete. If a post-it is too small and inconspicuous to reign in your monkey-mind, write the current task in big letters on a big sheet of paper and put it right in front of you. Use the back-side of used paper from the recycle bin in order to save trees.

This trick only works well if you have a desk that is clear of papers except for the ones related to your current task, otherwise your post-it will get lost in the chaos of your desk. I could write a whole article on keeping your desk clear, but the main strategy is to put all the papers into files and put any tasks related to those papers into your reminder system (list, appointment book).

Third, go on a “low-information diet”.

Create a set of clear guidelines to filter out information that does not serve specific intentions.

For example, if your main over-arching business objective right now is to get more clients quickly, here is what your list might look like this:

  • Info that directly empowers you to get more clients quickly (not “someday” but within a month or two)
  • Info that empowers you to be more focused (most info doesn’t), organized, and clear
  • Info that empowers you to be more efficient with meeting your specific high-priority business and personal objectives (hint: first you must define clear objectives)
  • Info that makes me laugh or is truly uplifting and entertaining in a healthy way (only after business hours)

What else should be on your list? What else is truly important to you at this time in your life/business. It can change later, but what is important now?

Once you have the list of what’s important, start filtering out all information that does not meet at least one of the high priority needs. Be disciplined about saying NO to new books, articles, teleclasses, videos, etc. that might sound really compelling, but don’t fit inside one of your pre-defined priories for information input at this time.

This will take practice and patience with yourself. You won’t be perfect, but you will get better with time and clear intentions.

I hope this helps.


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Ryan Eliason is a professional life and business coach with a proven track record of business success. His socially conscious business clients have frequently doubled or tripled their incomes, increased their positive impact, and simultaneously improved their lifestyles. Download your FREE audio seminar and workbook on How To Have The Best Year of Your Business and Your Life and feel free to share this post with your friends on Facebook and post a comment below.

Ryan Eliason posted at 2010-6-5 Category: Business Success
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