Blog with Joel Brookman

Decide What Not to Focus On

A big part of success is the ability to decide what not to focus on. This week I spent some time coaching a salesperson with 1,000 clients. While we like to think that we can service all of those clients, there are only so many hours in each day. Based on the number of average daily appointments, and the frequency of visits required to effectively cover those clients, that salesperson can only realistically serve 300-400 clients. Once you go beyond 400, the additional people impact your ability to adequately cover your 400 best opportunities. Attempting to take care of all those people can actually have a negative effect on total sales. While it’s important to understand where you should spend your time, it also makes sense to decide what not to focus on.

Pick your spots

You can’t be everything to everyone. Let your passions dictate the spots you choose. Since we typically excel at what we enjoy, find the areas in business that you like. Focus your time and energy in those areas and seek out other people with complementary skill sets for tasks you don’t enjoy. I love creating and delivering content that helps people thrive in life. I don’t enjoy handling the logistics and details. I am fortunate to work with people that complement me by being great at the things I am not.

Be realistic about what you take on

If you’ve ever been to a productive multi-day seminar or meeting, you have probably come away with a lot of good ideas. In the end you leave with a notebook full of great information. I remember attending one of these and coming away with over a dozen ideas that I wanted implement. While my intention was to execute on everything I learned, I went back to work and my “regular life” took over. The great ideas remained on the pages in the notebook and nothing changed. What happened? I became overwhelmed with the idea of making all those changes. Rather than starting with a few, I did nothing. If I had simply focused on the two or three most impactful ideas, rather than thinking about twelve, it would have been manageable. It’s just not realistic to think that you can take on more than a handful of new things at once.


Everything we are discussing requires prioritization. Create a list of what you would like to create, accomplish, or bring into your life. Go back through the list and pick only those items to which you are truly committed. Once you have your list, number them in order of priority. Begin executing on your number one priority. Before you start working each day, make a list of what needs to be accomplished and prioritize it. This will help ensure that you are continually focused on the right things.

“Know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em.” Kenny Rogers

I am a huge Shark Tank fan. I’m always amazed by entrepreneurs that become so emotionally wrapped up in their business or idea, that no matter how bad sales may be, or how ridiculous the Sharks tell them their idea is, they refuse to acknowledge it. Instead they make excuses. Denial is not the answer. It’s important to see your situation objectively. Not everything you do in life will work out. If your ship is sinking, and your assessment suggests that you are facing overwhelming odds, it may be time to fold. Move on to the next hand. There’s no point in throwing good money after bad.

Success can often be attributed to spending time on the right things. In the end, if you decide what not to focus on, it leaves you more time to concentrate on what will truly get you where you want to go.

Posted by Joel Brookman in follow your passion, productivity, success and tagged .


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