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Focus Challenge Day 5: Creating Momentum

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Focus Challenge Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of the 5-day Focus Challenge. If you haven’t yet, make sure to complete Day 4 before attempting today’s challenge. Today’s challenge is all about taking action on your one thing, which you identified during yesterday’s exercise.

Let’s get started.

Now that you’ve identified the one thing that will provide the greatest movement towards creating the future you’ve always dreamed of, it’s time to take action.

This step can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s an old saying that says in order to eat an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time. You don’t have to write the whole book, you just have to write one page and then do that enough times (trust me, I know). The secret to your success is in the consistency of your action. It doesn’t matter how big your action is, what matters is that you do it every day.

The Compound Effect

There’s a story about the man who invented the game of chess. The story goes that the man who invented this amazing game was asked by the king of the country where he lived what he wanted as a reward. The man reportedly asked for one grain of rice doubled for each square on the chess board, which is 64 squares in title (8 squares by 8 squares). That’s 1 grain of rice for the first square, 2 for the second, 4 for the third, 8 for the fourth, 16 for the fifth, and so on.

The compound effect

The king reportedly initially laughed off what he considered be a meager reward for such an incredible invention. But the story goes that after a week he asked the treasurer if the man had been paid and he said no because there wasn’t enough in the royal treasury. You see, that one, insignificant, grain of rice doubled for every square on the chess board is actually 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 grains of rice!

I love this story because it shows the power of compound effect and the dramatic impact it can have in helping you achieve your goals. It shows that it doesn’t matter what you start with, what matters is that you consistently do the right things the right way. When you do this, the compound effect kicks in and makes success inevitable for you.

So how do you make sure that you consistently do the right things? By doing them first thing. In other words, by eating your frog.

Eating Your Frog

The term comes from the Brian Tracy book called “Eat That Frog!” based on a famous quote:

“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.” – Mark Twain

From a productivity perspective, the beginning of the day is the best time to focus on your most important task (MIT). You have the most cognitive resources and willpower to devote to something at the beginning of your day, so it is the perfect time to take action on the one thing that will provide the most movement towards achieving your ideal future.

By prioritizing your one thing from the challenge yesterday and doing it first thing, you can go through the rest of your day feeling like you’ve accomplished something great. And the truth is, you have! Just stick with it, and before long the compound effect will kick in and you’ll start to see some major progress being made towards achieving your ideal future.

Exercise

Look back at the thing you identified as making the biggest impact in achieving your ideal future from Day 4. This is what you are going to work on in your focus blocks going forward, staring today. Do something to take action on this, RIGHT NOW!

When you’re done, look at the time slots you set aside for your Focus blocks this week and put them on your calendar going forward. If they are not at the beginning of your day, move them there. You might have to get up a little bit earlier to eat your frog before you start your day, but the satisfaction that you get from doing so is worth the inconvenience.

Extra credit: Take your focus blocks and DOUBLE the duration. That means that if you had a 30 minute focus block, set aside 1 hour. This will exponentially accelerate the rate at which you are able to achieve your ideal future by leveraging the compound effect. Just make sure to be consistent and don’t bite off more than you can chew when eating your frog.

Congratulations! You’ve completed the 5-day focus challenge. Now tune in tomorrow to find out how you can win one of the awesome prizes we mentioned in the kickoff.

(And if you want more actionable information, we have a new webinar coming up on Tuesday, Nov 14, where we dive deeper into creating your ideal future…faster. Here’s the link to check it out.)

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48 Comments

Posted by Michael  | November 10, 2017 at 9:26AM | Reply

I wake at 4:30am to go to the gym, with travel time I am at work about 7am. I am able to get home about 4:45pm and have until 6pm when my wife gets home. That hour is the best time for me to focus on my goals. This week I have taken that time to write or think while walking our dog.

Posted by Russ  | November 10, 2017 at 9:57AM | Reply

What a great little exercise. I helped me focus my thought on what I’m not spending time on and where I should be spending more. Today’s exercise helped me see that I’m actually doing something that is truly inline with my highest priorities that I hadn’t even considered.

Posted by Jeremy Brown  | November 10, 2017 at 10:24AM | Reply

Great exercise. This morning, I identified the things that have gotten in the way of me keeping journalling up in the past, and brainstormed how I can over come those. I set up a station at home and at work with nice pens, and a clear space, and ordered a new journal.

Posted by Bob  | November 10, 2017 at 10:26AM | Reply

Great reminder of the reasons behind focus blocks. I set them aside regularly in weekly planning, but often lapse in connecting it to my frog or real deep work. I’ve got some adjusting to do!

Posted by Saju K  | November 10, 2017 at 10:37AM | Reply

I started the event blocking 30 minutes and am not at 40, small increment but the compound effect of wellness and feeling fresh has contributed a lot to having a more positive outlook. This was an interesting focus session , loved it

Posted by Lisa Young  | November 10, 2017 at 11:07AM | Reply

Done! Some days, this is very difficult, though, because I have to round on patients in the morning, make consults, etc. I’ve get up earlier for a daily ritual, which is helpful, and have scheduled to get up 30 minutes early to write.

Posted by Steven  | November 10, 2017 at 11:15AM | Reply

Done, I’ll have to wake up a bit earlier but it’ll be worth it.

Posted by e.e.  | November 10, 2017 at 11:17AM | Reply

I’ve realized first and foremost through these weeklong challenges that I’m not focused. Focus blocks are now going to be come a permanent thing, and I’m going to do an hour long one Sunday night to really plan out my week, set intentions and get rid of distractions. Thank you AE, for helping me realize that it’s not just me who goes through these struggles and that there is a way.

Posted by Ben  | November 10, 2017 at 11:26AM | Reply

Last night, after determining my “one thing,” I went ahead and put the time and effort into doing it. But I do agree that it’s only going to have its potential impact if I keep at it. Expanding focus blocks for next week will be a challenge, but worth it.

Posted by Kristen Smith  | November 10, 2017 at 11:26AM | Reply

Hmm… Well, the focus area that I identified yesterday (finding and getting involved with a mom group or other community group) doesn’t necessarily fit into model listed here, as it isn’t something I’ll need to do every morning. Still, this morning, I took the opportunity to send out a few messages and do some research on groups in the area.

Thinking about more of a recurring priority, I realized that one big goal I had missed in the Day 3 exercise was that of growth and learning. I like my job as an editor, but I want to become more valuable to the company and take on more responsibility where possible. In order to get to that point, though, I need to set aside time to read articles and books that can help me to do my job better. I’m currently reading “Deep Work,” but I generally try to read it in the evenings, which results in me only reading about two pages before I get interrupted by the baby crying or dog needing to go out. I really value self-improvement and professional development, so starting today, I want to set aside time to read books and articles that are applicable to my role.

Posted by Alice Ferris  | November 10, 2017 at 11:35AM | Reply

Ditto the comment about forgetting to connect the focus blocks to my frog! I’m realigning my schedule for next week to do this. Thanks!

Posted by Christine  | November 10, 2017 at 11:38AM | Reply

This is an interesting turn. What I chose yesterday as my one thing was energy management. So rather than using my focus blocks to focus on a high-impact work-related task, I could use it to reassess my energy levels to help plan the rest of the day or week, go for a walk, drink water or use a caffeinated drink strategically, or do something else that helps to boost or restore my energy. So the focus blocks should probably occur during my lower energy periods, which are usually around 12:30 to 2 pm. Thanks! That was fun and made me think about things a bit differently.

Posted by Donny  | November 10, 2017 at 11:43AM | Reply

Nice suggestion! Exercising will be the first thing to do in the morning!

Posted by Tom Erickson  | November 10, 2017 at 12:11PM | Reply

Thank you for the exercise, I get caught up in the rat race and forget to see the overall picture. Taking a breath and realigning what’s important and make a plan and then DO IT!

Posted by Teejay  | November 10, 2017 at 12:20PM | Reply

Great series, thanks! I think a lot of people can benefit from this information, as we often lose focus and get caught up in the day-to-day tasks.

Posted by Jason  | November 10, 2017 at 12:26PM | Reply

Yep, it seems so intuitive, but without an exercise like this, it’s so easy not to do. Setting aside time first thing in the morning to focus on my highest-leverage activities just feels like the right thing to be doing.

Posted by Katie Alexander  | November 10, 2017 at 1:30PM | Reply

Most concentrated action yet! Fantastic challenge- thank you!

Posted by Dan  | November 10, 2017 at 1:39PM | Reply

Perfect timing! I’m off for a week next week (recovering from surgery), so I can focus on eating the frog I’ve identified.

Posted by Árpád  | November 10, 2017 at 1:49PM | Reply

Now I have prepared a calm corner for the early morning meditation, what will charge up my day.
Thanks for the exercises!

Posted by Michael Breen  | November 10, 2017 at 3:01PM | Reply

Fantastic exercise! And it couldn’t have come at a better time! Get my schedule back on track and focused… just in time for the birth of my first child next month to throw it into total chaos! The foundation built from the 1 hour blocks are going to help a ton! Thanks!

Posted by George  | November 10, 2017 at 3:11PM | Reply

Got it!

Posted by Tamika Sykes  | November 10, 2017 at 3:13PM | Reply

The biggest tip is that I have to be willing to move my focus block earlier than my normal start day which can be interrupted.

Posted by Tomas  | November 10, 2017 at 3:22PM | Reply

This challenge has been great in setting myself to focus and I’ve scheduled a focus time going’s forward. Thanks AE for making this one great week.

Posted by Oliver Glenn  | November 10, 2017 at 3:28PM | Reply

Really enjoyed this challenge. Love the approach and am keen to learn more. Thanks again!
PS: Focus time blocked in cal moving fwds.

Posted by Samuel  | November 10, 2017 at 3:30PM | Reply

This entire exercise has been helpful.

Posted by Alexander Malmström  | November 10, 2017 at 3:50PM | Reply

This weeks challemge has been great and has really gotten me thinking of the value of the focus time and in my case the planning time

Posted by Don Pavlik  | November 10, 2017 at 3:59PM | Reply

This was an interesting exercise, doing some updates my schedule and seeing what I can move to the first thing in the morning.

Posted by Jon  | November 10, 2017 at 4:12PM | Reply

Focus blocks added. This exercise opened my eyes to really needing a proper weekly review, which I will institute. This will help me make the most out of the focus blocks, and allow me to use less time during the week to prioritize my workday, and use the focus blocks to do actual work.

Posted by Julia  | November 10, 2017 at 4:17PM | Reply

My efforts today worked, but today is Friday, and there are not a lot of students hanging around looking for us on Fridays, nor do many emergencies come up.

I have thought long and hard about doubling the focus time at the start of the day. Long-term, I might be able to arrange my schedule to permit that doubling, but as it is, I am getting up before 5 a.m. to ensure I will work out before I get to work, and once I am there, the start of class is a hard and immovable limit to my available morning time.

I already know myself well enough to know that I will not exercise if I do not do it first thing in the morning. So I guess I am making that my frog. I understand the principles, but there can only be one “first thing in the morning,” so I will have to find a way to eat frogs all day, I think.

Posted by Diana  | November 10, 2017 at 4:43PM | Reply

I will move ny focus block to first thing in the morning, but I will have to get up earlier. Will give a try for a week and see if it works.

Posted by Jeremy  | November 10, 2017 at 5:09PM | Reply

Done! I actually just finished an update for my future site that was the goal for this week!

Posted by Christine McMullin  | November 10, 2017 at 5:39PM | Reply

This came at a much needed time. Thank you!

Posted by Todd  | November 10, 2017 at 6:07PM | Reply

I’m interested to see the long term effects of dpihe the focus blocks for weeks to see the compound effect.

Posted by Johanna Granlund  | November 10, 2017 at 6:07PM | Reply

Thank you for all the great tips this week!

Posted by Johanna Granlund  | November 10, 2017 at 6:08PM | Reply

Done! Thank you for all the great tips this week!

Posted by Thomas  | November 10, 2017 at 10:34PM | Reply

I can’t believe I saw something through for once! And I already knocked out the extra credit, since I realized on Day 3 that focusing is a thing that brings great value to my life and keeps me aligned with my goals both short and long term. It also feels great too. If there’s anything actionable to complete Day 5’s challenge, I added calm music and some writing into the focus blocks.

Thank you AE for a most excellent 5-day challenge! I feel like this week has been one of change for sure :)

Posted by Kacy McKibben  | November 11, 2017 at 1:03AM | Reply

I worked on my Etsy shop logo tonight which was my one task chosen yesterday. I also scheduled Focus Time in for next week at 5:30 am.

Posted by David  | November 11, 2017 at 1:19AM | Reply

This was a very useful exercise. Interestingly, the item I identified at the end of the fourth day of reflection was definitely not the item I thought I would end up with as a primary focus. I will endeavour to start each day my focusing on this one item. Since I start each day at 5am with a bullet-proof coffee and a 30-min cycle to work, followed by a strength workout, my day effectively begins at 6.30am, although I do spend my cycle ride focusing on one key task for the day ahead. I will block 60 min each day to focus on my research students, who are the way in which I can achieve maximum impact towards my long-term goals.

Posted by Randy  | November 11, 2017 at 2:56AM | Reply

Fantastic set of exercises this week! The summary I wrote yesterday led directly to today’s post.
Glad to see that my head is in the right space, but also need to recognize that most of the perceived roadblocks are also inside that same head.
The roadblocks inside the head are often more intimidating and harder to deal with than the roadblocks encountered in the physical world.

Posted by Susan  | November 11, 2017 at 7:35AM | Reply

Happily, since I already have realized what I needed to do, I have started reclaiming time from the social media black hole. I’m almost tempted to find out exactly how much time I was wasting with that. In my case, it’s more that I need to be mindful all the time and watch what I do rather than set aside a block of time to do this one thing. The block of time is something for my second biggest rock, but I can’t focus on that unless I get my self-care under control.

Posted by Keith  | November 11, 2017 at 6:21PM | Reply

I have a two year old and another on the way. Getting up early to focus/workout/etc. is pretty much the only time it can be done based on my schedule and when my daughter is awake and in need of “daddy time”. This just makes sense on so many levels!

Posted by Ella  | November 11, 2017 at 6:26PM | Reply

Well, I finally grasped the nettle and sat down and worked out a study routine that can be done every day. I can add extra on top of that for upcoming exams etc, but doing a bit first thing every day every day is really what’s going to help move me towards my goal marks. (Plus, getting it done first means that I don’t feel bad about not studying!)

Posted by Bob DeSilets  | November 11, 2017 at 11:27PM | Reply

Made it to day 5 this time. My one thing was waking up earlier, so that ends up being my focus block. I am having a difficult time juggling family life with two young kids and work and still being able to get to bed at a decent hour (it’s 11:25 pm as I’m writing this). I understand the things I need to do to move myself forward, but I don’t have long term goals to work towards. I intend on using the time I carve out in the morning to work on those goals and to better organize my commitments.

Posted by Anesh Naidoo  | November 12, 2017 at 5:36AM | Reply

Focusing on that one thing that’s going to make a big difference makes sense. I think the challenge for me is to use the my Focus Block productively and avoid distractions. I’m going to build the content on the website and see this as a turning point toward me working for myself. Great set of tasks AE crew. Thanks very much.

Posted by Karusha  | November 12, 2017 at 2:08PM | Reply

Very interesting conclusion to the challenge. I have time set aside each day in the morning to EAT MY FROGS but those are generally to get through important work tasks. My new priority is very personal and I am now looking to move my focus block earlier in the day to before I leave home (probably after meditation and journaling) to focus on my daily personal development.

Posted by Steve W  | November 12, 2017 at 2:58PM | Reply

I’ve now ensured that I have a focus block for exercise each day this week – of one hour. This is mix of light exercise (mainly brisk walking) and cardiovascular exercise + stretching (as I have a shoulder problem). I’m looking forward to tracking how I get on this week using my BestSelf Journal! By identifying it as my MIT, and linking it to my 12 Week Year and Bigger goals, I’m committed to ensuring that it doesn’t get bumped for other things. Fingers crossed!

Posted by Simon  | November 13, 2017 at 5:48AM | Reply

Okay, I reserved one hour early in morning, for upcoming 7 days, for my Income Investment frog, which is my One Thing now. Otherwise I’ve been using the Eat the Frog concept for quite some time – for my work. Before reading any emails or looking into anything else, I always manage one frog in my office in the morning. It works great.

Posted by Simon  | November 13, 2017 at 3:52PM | Reply

I would need to wake up earlier for an hour’s focus block. I also wouldn’t be awake enough to do my ‘one thing’ of studying for job related skills and accreditation. Sorry, but my focus block is staying at 8pm – child down, no great of waking anyone up in the house / distractions before the block is finished.

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