How to Improve Your Ability to Stay Focused on the Main Thing

When you improve your ability to stay focused on the main thing, the things you accomplish will have greater significance and meaning.

A challenge most of us face today is to manage our distractions well and stay committed to our priorities. If we don’t have a high level of clarity, what we do daily will not get us closer to what matters most.

1-Minute Summary Video

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What is the Main Thing?

In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey shared a now-popular quote, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Everyone has a different main thing. However, what’s common is the main thing is relevant, valuable, and something we aspire to reach or have in our lives.

It’s the big picture or the why behind the things we do. It’s what we are aiming for and want to experience.

The main thing can change depending on our priorities. Certain areas of our lives will require more attention, based on the season of life we’re in.

To stay focused on the main thing requires a strong commitment to do what’s necessary to get what we want.

What Can Prevent You from Focusing on the Main Thing?

Common reasons to not focus on the main thing include:

  • Lack of clarity.
  • Competing priorities.
  • Inability to manage distractions well.
  • Lack of a mission in life.
  • Making poor choices.

The Costs of Not Focusing on the Main Thing

Those who do not focus on the main thing usually experience:

  • Delays in achieving what they want.
  • Poor performance.
  • Playing small or not willing to take risks.
  • Average success because they do not go for what they want.
  • Wasted mental and emotional energy.

If you keep your main thing front of mind, what you produce and the results you achieve will improve.

the main thing

How Do You Find Out What is the Main Thing?

If your main thing is the big picture or your why, that means you need to know your purpose or mission in life.

Your main thing will become the overarching focus for your life. Everything you do should be aligned to it, which will make it easier to make decisions, and know what to focus on every day.

Constantly asking yourself, “What is my intention?” or “Why is what I’m doing important?” will make it easier to stay focused on the main thing.

What I do to Stay Focused on my Main Thing

The essence of my life purpose is to inspire others to live their greatness and make a bigger difference in the world. This is my main thing. My intent always is to align everything I do to it.

When I get off track, it usually means I have lost sight of my big picture. The way I ensure I stay focused on my main thing is to:

  • Have a quarterly focus or theme.
  • Set quarterly goals.
  • Create a daily plan aligned to my quarterly goals.
  • Conduct daily and weekly reviews.

Staying focused on the main thing is not difficult, provided you know where you are heading.

5 Actions That Will Improve Your Ability to Stay Focused on the Main Thing

Here are five actions that will help improve your ability to stay focused on the main thing, so you can maintain your commitment to your highest priorities.

  1. Identify your values and priorities. The things you value and what you consider important will make it easier to plan your activities. Everything you do should lead to an outcome aligned to your highest values and priorities.
  2. Determine your non-negotiables. These are things you know you should not give time or energy to. Create a “Don’t Do” list. If there are activities you don’t want to do, but you know they need to get done, delegate them. That will help you free up mental energy, which you can redirect to focus on your main thing.
  3. Make reflection a regular practice. If you don’t review what you are doing, you will not know if you are focusing on the right things. The aim when you do a review is to determine whether your actions will move you closer to where you want to be. That will make it easier to identify what you need to change.
  4. Improve how you use your time. Since time is a resource you can never get back, how you use it will affect your results. One way to improve how you use your time is to eliminate unproductive activities. This is another reason to have a “Don’t Do” list. Your aim should be to only dedicate time to activities essential to your success.
  5. Associate with people who value the importance of staying focused on the main thing. Those you interact with regularly will influence your thinking and actions. If you want to go to the next level in any area of your life, interact with people who have achieved what you want. That will help you progress faster to what you want to achieve.

Final Thoughts

Staying focused on the main thing is difficult, especially with all the distractions you have to deal with daily. If you commit to it, the things you accomplish in life will continue to get better.

Improving your ability to stay focused on the main thing is one of the most important things you can do if you want to live with more purpose and meaning.

Action Step: Review the things you have done over the last two weeks. How much time did you dedicate to your main thing? If you know you need to allocate more time to it, use the ideas suggested here to create a plan to get there.

Question: What are other ways to improve your ability to stay focused on the main thing?

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Neel Raman

Neel Raman

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