turned on Focus signage

Discovering Why I Struggled To Focus

As I’ve mentioned in Time is of the Essence as well as in A Journey with Time, I’ve studied the concept (shall I call it, misnomer? But more on that in a later post…) of “time management” for many years, really out of a desire to organize and structure my life in such a way that I do better with the resources that the Lord has graciously provided, the most precious of which is time.

Most of the time, my focus has been on trying to find the best tool available to help me really knock this enemy out, and so I used this platform, that platform, tested this and that, found their strengths, and wrestled with their weaknesses as the hope that “this might be the one” withered away like smoke in a breeze. 

discovering why I struggled to focus

One of those platforms held my attention in the most persistent love/hate relationship that I have ever known, as I swore it off multiple times, determined to migrate to another platform, but coming back to it time and time again after seeing that the features it had were just simply not available elsewhere, and that there just HAD to be a way to get past the weaknesses that I was wrestling with as I attempted to use it to help me make the best use of my time. I’ll go into that platform in a later post, but during one of these struggles, I was crying out to the Lord for help to see what I was obviously not seeing in my struggle to be productive and effective in my use of time, the frustration led me to begin researching the inability to focus.


This research began a process of self-discovery that I had not gone through in a long time. Self-discovery can be scary at times, especially when you’re pretty sure you know all there is to know about yourself, and that you’ve got a handle on what’s needed to continue the path to greater maturity. But then, the Sovereign One graciously pulls back another layer of the onion skin of our self-protection and BOOM! Acckk!! Who is that? Me? No! Couldn’t be!! Well, not really me, anyway, just a part of me that is not really part of me because the me that is the real me wouldn’t put up with a me that was content with a version of me that looked and acted like that! Or, well, would it? Me? Ummm… really? Oh, could that be why… And with that, self-discovery has begun.

too many choices

Mine was in this area of difficulty focusing on things at hand, things I needed to get done. Now, it was not a constant issue, mind you. It was one of those areas where I would do good with it, I’d get in “the zone” and knock out a good amount of productive work for clients or my business or some teaching I was preparing, and look back, really satisfied with how the time was spent and with the fruit of the labor. But then, there were mornings where one thing might not go right, and I’d be thinking about something else, worried about that thing, wondering about something else, and then not able to decide what was really most important to focus on that day. Time would turn into a Kansas twister and next thing you know it’s 4:00 in the afternoon and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OF CONSEQUENCE HAS BEEN DONE! What’s really impactful about those days is that normally, I have some things on my plate that are really crucial to get done. I started researching my seeming inability to focus at critical times, and my inability to make decisions when the pressure is on.

There were a number of stopping points that my research helped me to identify including:

  • Poor Energy
  • Tired/Sleepy
  • No Willpower
  • Starting Point Indecision
  • Task Paralysis
  • Time Blindness
  • Multitasking
  • Interruptions
  • Things Outside of My Control
people sitting on chair with brown wooden table

I found that each one of these, given power, has the ability to completely sideline my day. Now, I’ll get into what these are and how they affect my perspective on time and my ability to focus, but the key takeaway that I came out of this grueling self-discovery process was that there were specific things that I could now begin to identify. If I can identify them when I am having trouble focusing or making decisions, etc., then I can take action immediately. If I take action right away, then I am effectively ridding myself of these time termites and getting things accomplished on a more consistent basis.

You reading this blog post is validation that this is working in my life.

Next week, I’ll get into the actions that I’ve been taking after I identify a stopping point in my daily productivity.

If you want to begin a journey of making money online, check out the free Iceberg Effect book. Dean’s writing is a down-to-earth way of spelling out the simple steps to get started building an online business.

28 thoughts on “Discovering Why I Struggled To Focus”

  1. Ezequiel Wells

    Hi Micheal,
    Thank you for sharing so an important post, I resonate with you as I encounter a similar challenge, particularly in the realm of multitasking and handling unexpected situations on top of existing responsibilities. Being an accountant, I’ve realized the importance of allocating time wisely. Thus, I crafted a schedule that divides the week, assigning specific time blocks for different priorities. Time for God, time for Family, time for Rest, time for Work, and time for my Business. This approach allows me to focus solely on each task within its designated timeframe.

    1. Excellent, Ezequiel. I’ve got a similar thing in place now, and will be sharing about how I came to that part of the journey.

  2. Alison Blaire

    When I teach yoga retreats, after the fourth day of the retreat, people’s emotions start to come out, and they start to realize things about themselves; it is a time for self-growth and introspection. The journey of affiliate marketing for me has been the same. Going through the process and the challenges that arise, with so much hope for the outcome it can bring, is similar to the yoga retreat. You have to face yourself, get real and overcome, and let go of beliefs that no longer serve you. And you have to change old behavior patterns that aren’t aligned with your path to success. I read this book, which I thought was incredible. You should check it out. It is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

    1. Thank you, Alison. I hear ya! As a photographer (though not spending nearly enough time on that these days), I do get that. I’ll certainly check out the book. It sounds like a good read from what I’ve seen so far. Thanks!

  3. Ken McGarvey

    Michael, Great post your definitely not the lone ranger when it comes to this topic. I struggle with it all the time my wife even tells me that I need to get better at it. Look forward to part two of this topic where hopefully I can get some pointers.

    1. Your wife may well be like mine, Ken – she has absolutely no need for some system – she just knows what she needs to do and what the priority is and just gets to it! I stare at her in wonderment most times…

  4. Hi Michael,

    Seems like you have a lot of experience with various time management platforms.

    I thought this might be a good topic for a future blog post, where you can share the pros and cons of each platform, and why you use and stop using them.

    1. Thanks Alan, and actually, between you and Eleanor, I’m not sure what on earth happened to my notes! It seems I may have been doxxed! Yes, that is actually something I plan on delving into, though I’m not sure how much I’ll get into the granular side of things, but more along the lines of here is what I was looking for, and here is what I found…

  5. Eleanor Hope

    This is such important research.

    I think that the world’s getting busier and busier and there is so much distraction, I find it difficult to focus on one thing. So discipline and self-organizational tools are necessary. No wonder more and more people are moving off grid. There is a need for silence and to be in nature. I look forward to learning more to help me develop structures to make the most of my time.

    1. Hi Eleanor. In a later post (next week, I believe, if I have my topics in order in my head), I’ll be going into part of my approach, which you’ve hit on right here (have you been reading my notes, Eleanor?). Off the grid – taking time to get away from the screen – giving ourselves permission to become that healthy person again, is all part of the mix, and if we remember that all these things are but tools, then we can remember this – does the tool tell the carpenter what to do? No, quite the contrary. Now, as we enter the age of AI… oh, I had to go there, didn’t I?

  6. KateLoving Shenk

    Time management feeds directly to productivity! I struggle with both everyday!! Further insights into this topic are always welcome!

    1. It does indeed, Kate! Please check out my next post – I think it will be of great help to you.

  7. Michael, very important topic, You’ve discussed here on your blog. All the things you’ve listed. I think most of us if not all of us suffer from. I think the question for me is how many are self-imposed. By that I mean, are we letting ourselves be held by these things, or are they genuine root causes to explain why we are where we are. In Friday’s coaching session, Dean said that we are ‘our own worst enemies’ were the ones stopping self because of fear, management, confidence and many other possible reasons. The challenges is how do we handle these and I look forward to your next blog where you will explain this further about what you’ve done. Thank you so much thanks, Atif

    1. I think that is the question for me as well, Atif. In fact, it’s really not even a question. It’s an assessment. Our ways of handling things are learned, and thus, as we begin to recognize these things that have become part of our subconscious way of handling things, very much self-imposed. Areas of weakness and comfort zones are often bosom buddies. I appreciate you giving thought to these things, and hope my journey can be of help to you in yours.

  8. Lauren Millman

    Michael, it’s a little creepy just how much I resonate with these words. Okay.. a lot creepy. I’m new to this whole “working from home” thing, and I’m just starting my affiliate marketing business, which has been challenging me on a new level how to prioritize and get oodles of work done. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one out there who has experienced the “time blindness,” or the “time termites” as you call them (brilliant, by the way). I’m looking forward to the next post about this so I can take a learning from you how you and the Almighty have tackled this.

  9. Denny Medeiros

    HI Michael,
    Self discovery is such an important part of growth in any area of life, including business.
    However, it is not easy to process and work on what we discover about ourselves.
    When we discover a strength, great how do we utilize it more, but when we discover a weakness, bad habit, or something that needs improvement, it starts to mess with our emotions and our mind. Thanks for sharing and look forward to your next post!

    1. So true, Denny. And there is that fine balance, too. We want to capitalize on our strengths, meaning that we’ll spend time focusing on those, but not to the exclusion of spending time on our areas of needed growth. I am all too often guilty of the opposite, which is not good – work so hard on the areas of needed growth, while all but ignoring areas of strength that I need to spend time on! Balance, Michael, balance.

      I appreciate your comment, Denny. Thanks for being a voice here.

  10. Sherri S Pulcino

    I totally get the struggle of focusing on one thing at a time. While I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, there are times when my attention span feels pretty short. It’s something I actively work on in both everyday life and my business. It’s always a journey, right? I look forward to your next post.

    1. A journey indeed it is, Sherri. I hope that my learnings and growth can be an encouragement to you in this Journey with Time. Thanks so much for keeping me company on the trip!

  11. Hi Michael, Interesting post and points to the reality that we live in a world full of distractions. Great that you have identified it and starting working on how to rein this in. There is a wealth of material in the productivity space but I think one of the best is Cal Newport. If you are a reader then his Deep Work is a must read. If you prefer to listen his weekly podcast Deep Questions is fantastic. Also can get it on YouTube.
    I have been listening to this guy for the last 9 months and has made a massive difference to my productivity. Still a work in progress but feel I have come a long way.
    Keep at it mate and keen to read your future posts on this challenge. Neal

    1. Hey Neal, yes, Cal has great work, and I enjoyed reading Deep Work. I even gave my hand at his block schedule calendar, but his particular approach, while very helpful and beneficial in my journey, was not quite what I related to. But yes, I do gain a lot from his insights!

  12. Michael,
    Yes, staying focused is definitely difficult at times. There are so many distractions in life. We have to find ways to try to manage those distractions as best as possible, and set priorities. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter.

  13. Milissa Neirotti

    Hi Michael,
    The topic of time management and self-discovery are important ones to bring to light in our lives. I appreciate your publishing of this post! Our lives are ever-changing, and we need to be adaptable to those changes or get lost in the whirlwind of distractions. It is difficult to stay focused when there are multiple tasks (sometimes easier or more fun ones )to choose to do. Your list of stopping points could readily be a list for all to reflect upon.
    All the best!
    Milissa Neirotti

    1. Thanks, Milissa. A good friend of mine says she would get lost in a paper bag, so bad is her sense of direction, and well, that is somehow exactly how I feel at times sitting at my desk! Okay, where was I just now? What was I looking for? LOL. Simplification is the hardest easy thing to do to address that issue!

  14. Nakina Lawson

    Hi, Michael! I’m enjoying your time series. I’ve been working on my business for about a year. The further along I go, the harder I have with time management. My specific struggle varies from week to week. At this point, I feel so daunted by all the tasks I need to do. It seems there is no point to begin because it’s too big a task to accomplish.

    I realized yesterday that I don’t have to do every good thing I can think to do in my business; I need to make progress. And, you know, I wonder if I buy into that or not. Lol!

    But I will plunge ahead, work smart, and see what happens! Please let me know what you figure out! I’ll be checking in again next week 🙂

    1. Hi Nakina,
      Yes, those struggles are very familiar! I think you’ll like my next post – look for the questions toward the bottom.

      Here’s a thought for you. You have ideas, and those are not bad, but at the same time, just because you have it does not mean an automatic “let’s go!” to that idea. So, why not have an idea basket? As you get ideas, add them to your special idea holder (in whatever system you use to keep to do’s and things to remember), and visit that basket once a week, or maybe even once a month to see how you are feeling about those same ideas, and, to see if it is time to begin taking action on something?

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