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Ask HN: How to focus so you work on you most important goals?
9 points by frans on Sept 22, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments
It's all good and well to write down your goals, but how to make sure you spend your time as effectively as possible on reaching those goals? Dear HN readers, what methods do you use to focus on what really matters?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and trying different things.

Something that’s really helped me is to set aside the first hour of the morning for working on my most important goal. Turn off notifications, put the phone in the other room, and just do it for an hour. (The book ‘the war of art’ has some good notes on this).

If you commit to spending an hour, the next thing you’ll have to do is fight internet distractions during that time. I’ve recently created a chrome extension that helps with this by allowing you to input topics you want to focus on, and the extension will block any unrelated content. ( https://getontopic.com )

This is a lovely and clever add-in, kind of a guardian angel sitting on your shoulder. But I wonder if it would help me. Preventing me wasting my time browsing is not my biggest worry. Rather, I'd like the maximum effect of the hour I invest, yet there are easily 100+ actions I have in my list that all somewhat move me forward. But how to pick the most effective one?

PS. Little off topic question (oh the irony): Have you been successful in monetizing your add-in?

thanks for the feedback!

RE picking the most effective action in your to-do list: this is something I've thought quite a lot about, and is a product I'd like to make. easier said than done though :)

the extension has only been live for a week or so, and is currently bringing in $0 :)

I am also considering turning this into a product: 1. assigning weights to you live goals 2. assigning weights to each sub goals of the goals you want to work on first 3. finally determining the most important actions for each of the subgoals.

Then running a small calculation to sort the actions from the most to the least contributing to the most important goals/subgoals.

Should not be that difficult.

Just wonder how to make that in a product that spreads: perhaps sending your closest friends of the 4 - 5 actions you want to get done this week (and why you do exactly those).

Then after a week, you need to report progress and send next week's plan...

Try making your important goals rewarding. If they are not, try adding some artificial reward to them.

Reaching my goal, or even feeling I made significant progress helps me forward. The times I succeeded felt greatly rewarding. Yet I feel that I am picking the wrong actions that barely help me move forward.

How do you go about putting prios?

At work I use https://www.uclusion.com since I am a co-founder.

Looks like a great product to be used in teams. I like the simple and clear UI.

Have you ever tried something similar for your personal goals?

creating deadlines, after which i force myself to move on from those goals & accept that they won't happen (or at least the specific thing i set the deadline for)

Does it mean you miss deadlines often? What stops you from completing those actions? What would it take you to complete the actions and reach your goals?

yeah, somewhat often —- it’s basically a way for me to verify whether a goal is actually a goal for me (if i don’t care enough to meet a deadline or at least try, it’s not a goal and it’s weighing me down to act like i care about it/expect it to happen)

though sometimes the desire to achieve them comes back much later, and i retry

basically desire would enable me to achieve them or get closer / lack of authentic desire is usually in the way

It seems a majority of people don't even bother to formulate goals, let alone write them down. Yet, the act of writing them down, already gives extra motivation and makes it more likely you achieve (some of) your goals.

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