How to Get a Year’s Work Completed in One Month

Ask most people how their day was and they’ll say ‘busy’. But ‘busy’ doesn’t equal productive. We live in a world of distractions – the average American unlocks their phone 180 times per day – and distractions prevent you focusing on the valuable work you should be doing. If you want to achieve great things it’s time to stop being a fire fighter and become a samurai.

When you’re a fire fighter you tackle lots of thing at once. This can initially give you a feeling of accomplishment. But in the long term you’ll start to see that you’re not actually completing the important work you should be doing that will give you a deep sense of fulfilment. Samurais, on the other hand, are focused on their mission. They have one thing to achieve and they don’t stop until it’s completed. They are also not distracted by superficial demands. This is the mindset you need to adopt in your quest for focus.

What’s stopping you focus right now?

When I ask people what’s stopping them focus the most common responses are:

  1. Interruptions by family / colleagues
  2. Finding time or lack of time
  3. Not knowing how to prioritise
  4. Lack of energy

The first part of any quest is to know what you need to achieve (in this case, spending time on valuable work), the second part is to figure out how to complete that quest.

It takes a serious commitment to focus. Whilst making small changes to your routine might work for a few days, they won’t help you win the long game. So forget using the latest app. You need to set your mind to a fundamental change in the way you work.

How to win

There are three elements to focus: time, energy and attention. The sweet spot is having an even blend of all three elements.

Level 1: Time

You can’t manage time – it is fixed each day to be 24 hours long. However, you can manage what you do in that time. Treat is as the currency of work. Use it wisely and you can achieve great things. Each time you start a task or someone makes a demand of you, ask yourself whether it’s worth you ‘spending’ your time on that task. Check out the Eisenhower matrix to help you prioritise.

Level 2: Energy

Do you struggle to get up in the morning? Do feel constantly tired at work? Then it’s time to start managing your energy. Not only in terms of sleep but in terms of giving yourself rest and recovery time.

Stop thinking that life is a marathon and that down time is wasted time. Rest is good for both mind and body. Stopping work and having a break is healthy and will enable you to be far more productive when you do go back to the task you were working on.

Remember: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

Level 3: Attention

The hardest level to achieve is level 3: attention. You need to develop your focus muscle. But it goes deeper than just focusing on anything; you need to focus on the right things i.e. deep work rather than shallow work.

Shallow work


Deep work

  • Can be performed while distracted
  • Requires intense concentration
  • Adds no value
  • Is like performing mental push ups
  • Is like junk food for your mind
  • Is healthy food for your mind
  • Is usually maintenance-type work
  • Pushes you mentally
  • Is easy to replicate
  • Is creative

It’s important to remember that deep work doesn’t equal doing long hours. The formula for deep work is: time spent x intensity of focus = deep work. One hour of intense work is a much better use of your time than 10 hours of less intense work.

What is the one thing that will maximise your intensity of focus? Maybe it’s rationing your time spent on social media, maybe it’s working in a quiet room away from the busy office. Identify what it is and make it your mission to achieve it.


Taking consistent action will enable you to achieve all of the above. Every day make sure that you: clarify what you need to achieve, prioritise and then organise your calendar and your office to make it inevitable that you will achieve those things.

If you need further advice, get in touch via Linkedin.