Focus – The Power of Concentrated Effort

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated EffortSometimes I just want to get stuff done. Like those edits that have been lingering for far too long or that book, I just want to get finished. So I get my head down and don’t lift it till the task is complete.

I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to, but it does require that I give it my all,* in effort and focus for a certain period of time.

*meaning it occupies the bulk of my thinking and gets the lion’s share of my time.

When you focus on what you want, everything else falls away.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in having great habits in place and chipping away every day to make that goal happen.

Sometimes I need push

But, sometimes things get under my skin and drive me crazy, and, I feel like I don’t have the energetic effort required or the moxie to keep chipping away at it. In fact, the chipping away is robbing me of joy every day because the task at hand seems insurmountable. Like I’m going to be working on it, FOREVER! That I’m NEVER going to finish.

I know from experience that if I let this feeling of hopelessness continue for too long, then I might end up losing the project that I had so much passion for in the beginning.

When I get to this place, when I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall, and getting nowhere fast, I do the one thing that always seems to work for me …

I attack!

When I reach threshold, I tell myself: I’m not dinging around with this anymore. It’s time to get it done.

Then I dive in.

Doesn’t matter what it is. As long as it’s something I absolutely want to achieve. And, it’s a must. And, it’s important.

But, if I’m not making progress, and I don’t see an end in sight…

Then I take the project and make it the number one priority in my life till it’s done.

I shoot it straight to the top of my list.

I make room for it in my life; I set a timeline, and I make a plan…

You can get a lot done when you decide you’re finished playing around.

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated EffortThe important thing is to take your goal, break it up into manageable chunks, and schedule them in every day. Then work like a dog till you complete your project. You may enjoy the process or you may not, it’s irrelevant. As long as you’re still connected to your initial vision you had for the project and your still committed, then you walk through fire till you get it done.

Now that imagery may seem a bit strong, but honestly sometimes you just have to commit all the way and do the work. Especially on long projects like writing a book, it’s a lot of work that has you invested for months to years.

What if a project has stalled out?

If a project has stalled out, then maybe it’s time to get reconnected to that initial vision you once had:

  • What made you excited about it in the first place?
  • When you complete it what doors does it open up for you?
  • How will you feel when you know you didn’t take the easy path?
  • Just imagine how good you’ll feel with the end in sight, and when you finally cross that finish line!

So set a hard deadline for yourself and get it done.

So why am I writing this blog post?

Focus - The Power of Concentrated EffortBecause, I set this task for myself this past Monday to complete all edits on my current manuscript, and to get it out the door to my editor by the end of the month. I have been working my butt off this week. My body hurts. I have assigned household tasks to other members of the family. Pizza has featured largely in this week’s dinner menu. But it doesn’t matter, I’m committed and determined that I will reach that finish line even if it kills me.

Yes, maybe a little extreme, but it means I get the thing I want to get done–done!

“You can move mountains when you set your heart and mind to it!”

I take the week, stop all the tasks that are not a priority, like cleaning the house, watching movies, going out to dinner. I pull the plug on all of it, get my head down, and work my butt off till the task’s complete. It’s surprising how much you can get done when you decide to!

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Have you ever used concentrated effort to get a task done and been surprised by the results? Or, do you fail miserably in this department and seem to never complete your project, loosing hope with the lack of forward momentum? What measures have you gone to, to complete a task?

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated Effort

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever just went for it?

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12 replies
  1. Amy Zlatic
    Amy Zlatic says:

    I, like you, just dig in. Although I do also recognize when sometimes I just need to walk away. Usually that happens if I’ve struggled with a specific problem for too long. I start to feel too close to the forest to see the trees, and in that case I remove myself entirely from the situation. I know that my brain will continue its tussle with the problem at hand, even if I’m doing something else. Then, like lightning, the solution hits! And I know myself now to know that I better drop everything and race back. Strike while the iron is hot, while that lightning is still sizzling. If it’s not a specific problem, then yes, I just hunker down and power through. I’ve found the longer I procrastinate, the more it looms, and the more it bothers me. Pretty soon I’m caught up in a cycle of not only being angry at myself for not finishing, but also being angry that I am actively procrastinating. And the anger keeps me from working. It’s far, far better to tackle it head-on. Everything works itself out if I just start, even when I don’t have any idea which direction I’m to go when I sit down!

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      I know what you mean, Amy, I’m the same way. When I can’t figure out where my story is going or how to solve a problem, I just let it go, knowing that my unconscious mind is working away on it. Usually the solution sneaks up on me in the shower or somewhere else when I don’t have a pen of course!

      This project that I’m currently working on is where I just have to hunker down and do the work. The end is in sight now. I need to go print off my manuscript for a final pass and then get it out the door!

      Thank you so much for sharing and commenting!

  2. James Stack
    James Stack says:

    I have a novel that I received editorial comments on back in Sept. I let the Oct Plat Chal, then NaNoWriMo, then the holidays, then ski trips, then Florida trip, and now writing competitions I want to enter prevent me from making those edits. I will give myself until the end of this week to put everything else aside, and then tackle that novel for the rest of March – if it takes that long. I hope….

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      There are so many things that we can attend to aren’t there? I hope you’re able to set everything else aside, and have an extremely productive March with your novel, James!

      Thank you so much for sharing and commenting!

  3. Kim Bailey Deal
    Kim Bailey Deal says:

    Another salient post that stabs me right in the heart. I need to FOCUS. It’s my goal this month, above all else. Everyone and everything has come before my goals. It’s time to be a little selfish.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      I think you are right, Kim, it is so easy to put everyone and everything else before our own goals. I hope you that have a very productive month and get closer to you goals!

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  4. Diana Zahuranec
    Diana Zahuranec says:

    “You may enjoy the process or you may not, it’s irrelevant.” Love it!
    When I’m stalling, my daily writing habits usually always get me back on track. But for the past month, I’ve had the first long-term stall on my WIP. I told myself, I need to take a step back, gain perspective, calm down for a moment…because I had been going full throttle ahead. And all of those reasons were true, except I might have dragged it on too long.
    But what helped me get back on track–and what always gets my legs pumping to go–is reading the books that inspired me in the first place. I re-read, take copious notes, and indulge in my favorite books for a bit. It hits all the right spots.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      I love this Diana! What a great idea to read all the books that first inspired you to write. I’ll need to file this away for future reference when I feel myself lagging.

      Thank you so much for commenting and for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Kat McCormick
    Kat McCormick says:

    Great post, SK! I usually just create a prioritized list and get to it, but sometimes I find I need a change of scenery or a break in the routine to get my focus back. Right now I’m struggling against a deadline and finding it impossible to stay focused because none of my story lines are panning out the way I want… Reading this has helped me remember what I need to do to get it done. Thank you.

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      Yes, Kat, you’re so right, sometimes we do just need to get it done, even when things are going awry. For me, I have found that oftentimes when I push harder, I can suddenly have a breakthrough, and my outcome was much closer than I thought. I’ve also heard it said that it’s hardest right before the finish line!

      I hope you get back on track soon and that everything falls into place! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and commenting.

  6. DMG Byrnes
    DMG Byrnes says:

    This: “You can get a lot done when you decide you’re finished playing around” is something I’ve learned first hand, and its incredibly true, at least for me as well. That’s how my first novel was written last year, I was done messing around, and I got it done. I have a *huge* problem with focus, though. I always have SO many projects to work on, my brain always churning out more, and with each individual aspect of writing (writing, research, queries, pitches, submissions, etc.), I often get lost and become discouraged with nothing actually getting done, or very little, because I’m trying to do a little of everything. I start thinking way too much about time, my energy, and what should be prioritized versus what is peaking my interest. I hope one day to find a better way to find my focus because once I do, I will be so much happier getting things done, haha.

    Thanks so much for this post, SK! It was wonderful. Keep attacking, you’re doing great!

    • S.K. Lamont
      S.K. Lamont says:

      I know what you mean, DMG, there is so much in involved in being an author (platform building, querying etc.) that often our actual writing can suffer in the process. Especially if we’ve hit a tough part where it would be easier to pick one of the less taxing tasks. That’s why I had to take a couple of weeks and focus on my top priority–getting my novel finished–and stay away from social media etc. that can lead me down numerous rabbit holes and be a huge distraction.

      Thanks for commenting, and I wish you every success with fine tuning your focus!

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