James Clear

James Clear quotes on attention

Author of the #1 NYT bestseller Atomic Habits. I write about building better habits.

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Be “selectively ignorant.” Ignore topics that drain your attention. Unfollow people that drain your energy. Abandon projects that drain your time. Do not keep up with it all. The more selectively ignorant you become, the more broadly knowledgable you can be.


Balance is timing, not intensity. It is not doing multiple tasks at 80%, but developing the skill of turning it on and turning it off. Sleep fully, then work intensely. Focus deeply, then relax completely. Give each phase your full attention. Balance is "when to" not "how to."


The most powerful force in the universe is compounded attention. Anyone can focus on meaningful actions every now and then, but hammering away on what matters day after day is what delivers exceptional results. What you focus on becomes your life.


The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future.


Where you spend your attention is where you spend your life.


When access to all information is common, attention to important information is rare.


The best way to get the attention and respect of exceptional people is to do exceptional work. Like attracts like.


People keep reading self-help and revisiting the same ideas because that’s precisely what we need: to be reminded. The problem is not that information is unhelpful, but that attention is fleeting. Nobody focuses on one idea every minute of the day. Good books refocus the mind.


Needless commitments are more wasteful than needless possessions. Possessions can be ignored, but commitments are a recurring debt that must be paid for with your time and attention. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” —Henry David Thoreau


If you do not like your results in a particular area it is rarely your intellect that deserves the blame, but rather where you have directed your intellect. Results are purchased by how you spend your attention.


What is life? Managing tradeoffs. Physical life—Managing the tradeoff of spending energy and resources to get energy and resources. Mental life—Managing the tradeoff of allocating your finite attention to something. Emotional life—Managing the tradeoff of caring or not.


Focus and simplicity are connected. If you can't focus, then start cutting things out. When only the essential remains, it becomes easy to pay attention to the right thing.


You cannot sustain attention. You can only repeatedly bring your attention back to the same thing. This is one reason breaking a task into chunks can be helpful. Each chunk gives you something “new” to focus on while remaining committed to the same old task.


The best way to create wealth is to create or own assets that (1) earn money while you sleep and (2) don't require your attention while you are awake.


The Law of Attraction should really be called the Law of Attention. You are surrounded by information each day, but ignore most of it. When your attention shifts to a new problem, you seem to "magically" notice solutions and ideas related to that problem.

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