It is heartbreaking isn’t? You always want to stay focused.
You always seem to have clear, precise goals.
But you are only able to go so far; you then go off track. And, you lose motivation.
Hence, you don’t finish what you started. You don’t end up achieving your goals.
And then, you wonder how your fellow bloggers are able to launch product after product while actively networking in the blogosphere and consistently publishing at their own blog.
You wonder why you are not able to anything similar – heck, even consistently publishing content on your blog is a challenging thing for you.
When you look at all the un-achieved blogging goals and unfinished projects, you become heartbroken don’t you?
You need one simple thing – Focus.
There are lots of things that might take us away from our track. But if we are able to stay focused, we can beat those and end up successful.
Let’s get straight to it – how can you stay focused on your blogging goals, so you too can reach all those awesome milestones just like the successful bloggers in the blogosphere.
Do you know your “why”?
Your “why” is like the fuel that drives you to your destination. Ever experienced standing mid-way in a highway without fuel in your car? That’s terrible isn’t?
The same is the case when you don’t know your why. Your engines will stop mid way.
There’s no way you can stick to long term goals without knowing your why. I’ve tried to do so many times and have terribly failed.
So why do you blog? Do you do this as a hobby? I hope not!
Or do you just assume you can “try” and blog like blogger A and see how far it takes you? I hope not!
You have a reason, don’t you? You should exactly know why you are sitting in front of the computer every day until your eyes go blurry.
And, you should know why you are staying up at night and think about competitor B and his keywords.
You should know why you are taking such a trouble to write and publish every blog post (and then promote it!).
If you don’t know your “why”, NOW is the time to unearth that reason. You know it – it’s there in your mind a bit deeper.
It is important that you take a little bit of time to sit down and unearth that “why”.
You started all this because of that “why” – so that’s the biggest push that will help you stay on track.
Once you find out your “why”, write it down and put it in a prominent place. Do you have a vision board? Or perhaps your refrigerator door will do too.
Put it up in a place where you see it quite often and be reminded why you undergo all this pain! You will not derail.
Do you have a plan?
I so far talked about your “Why”. The plan is your “How”.
Having one or a set of goals without a plan is like wishing for something.
You can wish for anything in the world, but you have no guarantee that your wish will be granted by some angel from heaven.
A goal works and it can only be accomplished with a plan. Random shooting might work once in a while. You can call it luck.
How do you devise a plan? Simple – just ask yourself how can you accomplish that goal.
For instance if you want to write and publish your first ebook in 4 months (see I’ve put a deadline to it?), you will need to ask yourself how you are going to do it.
Of course, sometimes you just have to dissect long term goals to various short term goals or the baby steps that you’ll take in order to achieve that goal of yours.
For your e-book, you will roughy have the following steps:
- Do market research and find out a handful of topics that your customers will actually be interested in buying.
- Narrow down to one topic that you want to work right now.
- Do research and collect background material.
- Outline the ebook.
- Block out time on your calendar for actually writing your e-book
- Get it proofread by a professional proofreader
- Get the cover done
- Do pre-launch work
- Launch it
- Promote it
- And so on…..
As you can see, when you split the big goal into baby steps, you can tackle them one by one. You now clearly know the plan or the route to get to your goal or the destination.
Of course you can still split the baby steps into little chunks – it depends on how you prefer seeing things.
As you can see, “I want to write and publish an e-book” is too vague. The above steps clearly tell you how you can achieve it, right?
This or that? Which one comes first?
Let’s say you wake up one fine morning. You brush your teeth, freshen up and go to the kitchen. You then start preparing your dinner.
Sounds stupid isn’t?
What should you be preparing at this time? Coffee (or tea or your favourite beverage). And then your breakfast, right?
In the kitchen, preparing dinner is not your priority in the morning.
You know when to prepare dinner, and when to prepare lunch.
Do you know when should you write your blog post?
This is important too – Do you know when you should reach out to people in social media?
Leaving comments on blogs – Do you know when you should leave blog comments?
Do you know when you should write your first free e-book? Do you know when you should launch your premium product or a service?
Everything is supposed to happen in an order. You don’t do things backward. You do step by step.
Of course, with certain things, there is no order.
A particular task can be completed no matter in what order you do take the baby steps; but still you take step 1 first and step 2 next, right?
Prioritizing is very important.
Without that, you will run into a lot of trouble, and eventually give up!
Does your goal have a deadline?
Work expands to fill the time available (Parkinson’s law). You can choose to complete a specific thing in an hour, in a day or in a week.
You can write a blog post in 20 minutes or in 20 days. Both are possible.
If you don’t give yourself a deadline to complete a task, you are probably going to take that lightly; and you are going to keep
You will work as long as you wish on that task.
Your will power gets diluted.
The problem today is, even if we do have a deadline, we don’t take it THAT seriously.
Perhaps I can motivate you to take deadlines seriously by sharing the origin of the word “deadline”
The word “deadline” first appeared in 1861-1865, during American Civil War.
The Federal prisoners were kept confined within a stockade, and about 20 feet from it is a “deadline” beyond which the prisoners were not allowed to pass – perhaps that’s not a powerful statement.
Here it is: If the prisoners cross the deadline they will be shot by the guards; as in “you will be dead outside the deadline”, literally.
In our times, the word “deadline” doesn’t carry much seriousness; but still having one is very crucial.
Without a deadline, you could just keep on working on a task because
- You’re lazy
- May be, you’re crazy
- You’re a perfectionist
- May be, you don’t know how to prioritize and bring in other tasks mid way
- You multi-task
- May be, you’ve lost motivation
- …. And so on.
Literally, there could be a handful of reasons as to why you don’t finish a task in a specific time.
Assigning that end time, or the deadline is crucial to get things in shape and to stay in focus!
Ruthlessly eliminate distractions if you want to stay focused on your blogging goals
Let’s be honest here. How many times did you switch to another tab in your browser while reading this post?
And, how many times did you check out your phone before finishing this post?
How many times do you visit Facebook, well, just because?
There is no scarcity for distractions around us. We are choked with distraction in the name of information.
Are YOU willing to eliminate distractions and stay focused?
You start doing “work” by researching for your blog post.
You go to Youtube to see a tutorial video and then you end up spending half a day watching cute cat videos or funny videos.
How about the infinite scrolling in Facebook?
You’ve been there, right? I’ve been there too!
Just do everything to keep yourself out of distractions. You can use a browser addon like Cold Turkey or anything else (you can Google it, there are plenty of them).
You can turn off the internet while writing blog posts (you should do your research first and collect the relevant material before writing your post).
If you work in a room, you could put a “Do not disturb” sign at the door. You could put your phone in silent mode (also turn off the vibration).
I can go on and give you “tips” to do this – but I am sure you know more 🙂 You know how to keep distractions away; are you willing to actually DO it?
Check out these productivity tools compiled by Adam.
Also read about how to stay focused while working from home (by Andrew).
Remind yourself often about your goals
I told you about reminding yourself often about your “Why”. I told you to put your “why” in a prominent place so you you can stay on track.
The same is the case with your long term and short term goals.
Have you heard of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”?
My dad says that to me often and he constantly reminds me to put those things that need to be done in prominent places so I don’t forget them.
List your short term and long term goals and put the list in a prominent place – a vision board is a great place to have it.
When you look at your goals each day, you exactly know why you are writing that blog post now, and why you are outlining that e-book.
You know how far you have progressed and how much you are lagging.
Without a visual reminder it is quite hard to stick to your blogging goals.
Read more about how to stay motivated (by Kayla).
Track your progress
Take note of things you have achieved (and things where you are lagging).
When you don’t know your progress you cannot stay focused. If you don’t know whether you’re on the right track, how can you correct course?
Do a weekly analysis to see how much you have progressed (this works only when you have clear goals and an action plan to execute those goals).
When you exactly know what works and what doesn’t you can easily correct course. When you exactly know what needs attention, you can give it that attention.
I use Rescuetime to time track my activities. This is micromanaging every minute of my working day. I get a weekly report of how I spent my time.
I also do a weekly analysis on Sunday evenings – I see what I’ve achieved that week, and how that achievement contributes to my main goal.
There is no point in achieving something that is totally unrelated to my goal, right?
I also see where I have not put much effort into. This helps planning the upcoming week well while I still have my main goal in mind.
Reward yourself for small achievements
This might sound like a small silly tip. But this is a magical tip – it helps you stay focused and keep your motivation well oiled.
You cannot stay motivated and stay focused for long times, if all you have is boring working sessions. Your mind needs some sort of refreshment (I’ll come to taking breaks in a while).
What if you keep that refreshment as a way of rewarding yourself?
Naturally, your mind will look forward to that reward. And naturally, you will stay focused to get your tasks done in order to get that reward.
Sounds simple right? Why not do it?
I don’t know how you call it – meditation, prayer, or simply stillness!
I prefer stillness because with prayer you still have some applications to make or you have to think about things to thank Almighty.
Try to spend a few minutes a day by being still, doing/thinking nothing.
You can start with 5 minutes, and then build on. Some people even spend an hour or more being still.
Why should you do it? Well, these days there are lots of stuff that demand our attention. There is too much noise inside our brain.
By being still you attempt to create a calm environment in your brain which helps with thinking clearly and staying super focused.
How do practice stillness? – Well, you just have to sit in a quiet place and do nothing. I know it sounds too easy, but in reality it is not that easy.
When I did it for the first time that was the hardest thing in the world for me.
My mind wouldn’t shut up and I would wander from one thought to the other and then to another in a very short time.
I will just often remind myself to come back to doing/thinking nothing – I will softly escort my mind back to a blank state.
Over the time I got better at it, so I officially started practising stillness.
When you train your mind to think nothing, you can train it to do something with super focus.
I must say that my focus has improved 200%. Give it a try.
Take lots of breaks
This might sound like a counter-productive advice.
But this works, trust me, and you have to put this advice to practice if you want to experience it yourself (in case you have doubts).
Working without breaks will burn you out. You could think that you will be able to achieve lots of things if you work on the weekend.
I used to take my laptop, and tablet loaded with blog post ideas that I would like to finish while on a vacation.
I terribly failed each time. It was a time of stress for me when I put myself in a tug-of-war between two states:
Should I enjoy the vacation or should I finish those blog posts that are outlined, before my vacation ends.
A vacation or a break is supposed to be “away” from work, right?
Unplug quite often and give yourself genuine work-free time. That time is not “wasted”.
It is the time that you give yourself to recharge and renew. When you get back you will find it a lot easier to focus on your goals.
Even if it is a short break, take it and enjoy it fully.
What to do when you don’t achieve your blogging goals on time?
Well, well, well – what if you still go off track?
This post is meant to totally avoid this situation. I mean, if you seriously apply what you’ve learned in this post, you should not deviate from your goals.
But what if I DID happen?
My biggest advice: It is OK. Just don’t be too hard on yourself!
Take a deep breath, find out what went wrong. May be you miscalculated the time needed for the task/goal. Or, may be you didn’t have enough resources to start with.
May be life got in the way. Or, may be you got sick. May be your plans changed.
Find out the root cause and fix it. Let go and proceed with what’s next. Don’t cling on to the fact that you failed to stick to your blogging goals.
After all we are human beings and we live a pretty normal life – we, bloggers are not creatures from outer space with super powers.
Accept that fact and move on – get back on track. You should be blogging just fine.
How do you plan to stay focused on your blogging goals? Which of these tips did you found easy to apply?
Let me know how much focused are you on your blogging goals.