How to Find Focus Using Sticky Notes

With so many distrations, focus is harder to come by than ever. Here's Get-It-Done Guy's favorite a low-tech way to get things done.

Stever Robbins
2-minute read

It's morning. Again. And as usual, there are two or three really big things you need to get done today.

But you woke up this morning and by the time you should have finished making your cup of coffee, you'd folded some clothes, answered an email, and looked up the lyrics to "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. This is going to be a distracting day. So how can you get those three important tasks done? 

Physically write them down on a sticky note or pad you can put right in front of you. 

Making a hardcopy to-do list with just a few key goals keeps you on track. Getting distracted is doubly dangerous when you can't remember what you set out to do before your kitty needed petting, Facebook needed cultivating, and your Tardis needed cleaning.

The sticky note is your tow truck to keep you moving through the traffic jam of distractions. It is the wax in your ears so you can't hear the siren song of Twitter, Tumblr, and Tivo. (Metaphors, baby! Mix and match!)

But more than just keeping you from distraction, paring down your day's tasks to a simple list makes the day feel more manageable. Say you need to write a report, organize a dinner party, and write a long email. Write those on a sticky note and put it on the computer.

Then, when you start to think of a billion other things to do, you can look back at your sticky note, and return to the day's three things. Those are your goal. Add the other billion things to your task list, so you can review them later and do or discard them as necessary. The sticky note, however, is your tow truck for today.

Finishing your three biggest tasks will leave you feeling accomplished. If other goals fall through the cracks today, leave them be. Those goals are waiting happily on your task list to be done another day. One sticky note today keeps you focused on accomplishing your most important initiatives.

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.