James Clear

James Clear quotes on focus

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

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Most people need consistency more than they need intensity. Intensity: -run a marathon -write a book in 30 days -silent meditation retreat Consistency: -don't miss a workout for 2 years -write every week -daily silence Intensity makes a good story. Consistency makes progress.


Your 1st blog post will be bad, but your 1000th will be great. Your 1st workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong. Your 1st meditation will be scattered, but your 1000th will be focused. Put in your reps.


I have a suspicion that most adults (75%+) could pick any skill—excluding sports—and work their way into the top 10% in the world simply by working exclusively on it every day for two years. But almost nobody displays that degree of focus, so we will never know.


The person who learns the most in any classroom is the teacher. Lesson: If you really want to learn a topic, then “teach” it. Write a book. Teach a class. Build a product. Start a company. The act of making something will force you to learn more deeply than reading ever will.


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."


How to 80/20 your life: (1) Make a list of the 10 things you spend the most time on. (2) Circle the two that truly drive your results. Do more of those. (3) Look at the others. Eliminate ruthlessly. Automate or outsource what you can. Press pause on the rest. (4) Repeat.


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.


The ultimate form of optimization is elimination. Nothing is more effective than removing the ineffective.


Most topics are not worth having an opinion about.


In a world where information is abundant and easy to access, the real advantage is knowing where to focus.


Focus is the art of knowing what to ignore.


Focus on your daily results and you’ll often make poor long-term choices. Focus on your daily choices and you’ll almost certainly enjoy good long-term results.


The Paradox of Freedom—the way to expand your freedom is to narrow your focus. Stay focused on saving to achieve financial freedom. Stay focused on training to achieve physical freedom. Stay focused on learning to achieve intellectual freedom. The disciplined become the free.


Vision is the bottleneck of talent. Most talent is wasted because people do not clearly know what they want. It’s not a lack of effort, but a lack of direction. There are many capable people in the world, but relatively few that focus on what matters.


The paradox of risk: (1) Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Lose the basket and you lose it all. (2) Don't put your eggs in too many baskets. The more baskets you manage, the less energy you can put into each one. It's risky to do things halfway. Diversified, but focused.


Comparing yourself to others... ...is positive when it motivates you to get back to work, upgrade your skills, and remain dedicated to a meaningful pursuit. ...is negative when it causes rumination, negative self-talk, and lower self-esteem. It’s a thin line between the two.


A difficult lesson to learn: Your most persistent distractions will seem justified to you.


Concentration produces wealth. Diversification protects wealth.


Some people need more focus. Others need to broaden their perspective. Some people need to try harder. Others need to stress less. Some people need to care more. Others need to let it go. The secret is you are both people. The key is to know which one you are in this moment.


In times of uncertainty, your habits can ground you. When you feel overwhelmed, practice 1 minute of mindfulness. When you feel restless, do a 1-minute workout. When the world seems uncontrollable, focus on what you can control. Stick to your routines in whatever way you can.


You need focus to become exceptional at anything. You have to be great at saying no. Massive amounts of time and energy are wasted optimizing things that should be left undone.


What looks like a talent gap is often a focus gap. The "all star" is often an average to above average performer who spends more time working on what is important and less time on distractions. The talent is staying focused.


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.


Before you throw more time at the problem, throw more focused action at the problem. You don’t need more time, you need fewer distractions.


Why focus on the process when the world is outcome driven? Don’t results matter? Yes, results do matter. But if you optimize for the outcome, you win one time. If you optimize for a process that leads to great outcomes, you can win again and again.


Success eats itself. The more successful you become, the more opportunities come your way. The more new things you take on, the less time you spend doing what made you successful in the first place. For success to persist, your threshold for saying yes must increase.


Life gets easier when you don’t blame other people and focus on what you can control.


The most useful form of patience is persistence. Patience implies waiting for things to improve on their own. Persistence implies keeping your head down and continuing to work when things take longer than you expect.


Each day is a new battle to say yes to what matters and say no to what doesn’t. Focus is a practice.


Before you dream about the view from the summit, ask yourself if you're willing to keep your head down, focus on the path, and spend your life walking up the side of a very big hill. It takes years of walking to earn a minute at the top.


Work hard. If results depend on effort, then you will carry yourself far. If results depend on effort and luck, then you will be focused on the area you can influence. If results depend on luck alone, then the outcome is random, but you will have won the battle with yourself.


There is almost always a simple solution that will deliver 90% of the result you want. The extra 10% can be worthwhile, but it's not *usually* worthwhile. Save the extra effort for the stuff that really, truly matters. In all other cases, do the simple thing.


Wild success requires aggressive elimination. You can't be great at everything.


There are two ways to achieve extraordinary outcomes: 1) Be lucky. 2) Be obsessed. Most people need some combination of both. However, only one of those factors is within your control. Work hard, stay focused, and let the chips fall where they may.


The more time you spend complaining about what you deserve, the less time you have to focus on what you can earn. Focus on what you can control.


The problem with being solely focused on one project is that you have to nail the initial decision. It might be better to have a main project and space to tinker on 2-3 side projects. They are a slight distraction, but they also increase your odds of finding the right project.


Highly focused people do not leave their options open. They make choices. If you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything.


Limitations are helpful if they limit distraction. Obstacles are useful if they obstruct the unnecessary.


When learning, explore widely. When mastering, focus narrowly.


A simple way to ensure you are focused on what matters: Imagine everything gets wiped. You inherit no tasks or responsibilities from your past or present. Then, add back only what you miss. Choose what to add to a blank slate, not what to keep from a full plate.


Focus on what you can control... which is a surprising amount when you are focused and committed.


We are always in the present, but seldom focused on it.


The 3-Step Cycle of Developing an Extraordinary Mind 1) Explore widely. Follow many people, listen to tons of podcasts, read more books. 2) Clean up your information feed. Subscribe to fewer newsletters, follow fewer people, re-read great books. All signal, no noise. 3) Repeat


Focus collapses your options in the short-term, but expands them in the long-term.


Increasingly, I believe getting rich and staying rich require different skills. Qualities needed for getting rich: -focused -optimistic -confident -lucky Qualities needed for staying rich: -diversified -pessimistic -humble -lucky Ideally, you’d learn to alternate as needed.


While results matter (and are what most people ultimately strive for), it’s better to focus on inputs over outputs because the world is complex and any single instance of success can be random. What you want is many shots on goal. Focusing on inputs means taking lots of shots.


Where you apply your effort matters more than how much effort you apply. You might be able to work 10% harder, but working on the right thing can deliver 100x results. Unfortunately, most days we are too busy working on the next thing to ask if we are working on the best thing.


The biggest risk is working on the wrong thing. The second biggest is being unreliable when working on the right thing.

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