How To Stay Focused, Get Stuff Done, And Be Successful

Learning how to stay focused can be a difficult task, especially in today’s world where there are distractions from all around us – social media, TV, work, family, relationships, and more. This is why understanding and learning how to stay focused is so important. There are many situations in which knowing how to stay focused would…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

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Learning how to stay focused can be a difficult task, especially in today’s world where there are distractions from all around us – social media, TV, work, family, relationships, and more. This is why understanding and learning how to stay focused is so important.

Learning how to stay focused and knowing the tips to stay focused can help you succeed with your goal. Here are my tips so that you can reach success! This can help you stay focused studying, in school, on homework, in life, fitness, college, at home, and more!There are many situations in which knowing how to stay focused would help you greatly:

  • When you’re trying to pay off debt.
  • When you want to save more money, such as for retirement or for a vacation.
  • If you want to start a business on the side but feel like you aren’t focused enough to do so.
  • To focus better at work.
  • When you need to balance multiple things while staying focused on all of them, such as working and managing a family.

I’ve always been a very busy person, and learning how to stay focused on my goals and life has helped me to reach my goals and be happier. By knowing how to stay focused, I was able to successfully build a business on the side of my full-time job, I was able to work full-time and go to school full-time to earn my MBA, and more.

By staying focused, I’ve been able to concentrate on the task at hand and my goals so that I can be successful.

And, this is why it is important that you know how to stay focused as well.

  • By staying focused, you may finally be able to work towards paying pay off your debt.
  • By staying focused, you may finally be able stop living paycheck to paycheck.
  • By staying focused, you may finally be able to start that business you’ve been wanting to start.

And so on, and so on.

As you can see, learning how to stay focused can help you stay motivated and succeed with your goal.

Related content that will help you learn how to stay focused:

Here are my tips on how to stay focused:


Realize why you want to stay focused.

Whenever you have a tough time staying focused, you should think about why you need to focus. That reason is the goal you are working towards, and you’ll most likely be able to stay better focused because of that goal.

Through creating a list of your priorities, goals, and the things in life that are important to you, you’ll be able to focus better by eliminating the extra noise that is holding you back.

This is because you’ll know and see exactly what is important to you, and you’ll be able to better differentiate between things that are important and those that are not.

So, if your goal is to start a side business that will one day become your full-time business, you should think about this whenever working on your side business feels too difficult.

Another example would be if you are trying to pay off debt and you want to better focus on your debt payoff plan. If you want to stay better focused on your goal, you should think about why you want to pay off your debt, how you will feel once you reach your goal, and so on.

By thinking about your goal and what will happen once you reach your goal, you’ll be much more motivated to stay focused, even if times become hectic or if you don’t think that you have the energy to continue on.


Exercise often.

Exercising is great for many reasons, and one of them is that it can help you to stay focused.

Whenever I feel like I can’t focus on something, I like to go for a hike or walk my dog in order to clear my thoughts and to think better.

According to Harvard Medical School:

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells… Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety.

To improve your focus, the recommendation is to regularly exercise, 30 minutes a session for five days a week.


Breaks are your friend if you want to learn how to stay focused.

Trying to focus TOO hard on a task can actually backfire.

Instead, you should take the occasional break.

Many people believe that you shouldn’t take breaks if you are trying to focus on something, but breaks are important if you are figuring out how to stay focused on a task.

A break could mean:

  • Going for a walk
  • Meditating
  • Exercising
  • Talking to someone

The key to taking a successful break is to be realistic with your time.

Obviously, taking 10 breaks in one hour may not be too helpful. Instead, you need to be realistic with your breaks because if you break focus too often from your work, then you could be hurting yourself as well.


Think about your goals.

A big factor in staying focused is to remember why you are wanting to reach your goal. If there is no reason, then it would be very hard to stay motivated.

You should envision what your life will be like once you reach your goal, why you are trying so hard to reach it, and so on. A little daydreaming can go a long way every now and then.

If your goal is debt payoff, then your reason is probably so that you can stop living a stressful paycheck to paycheck life. Just think what a debt free life would be like! This will help you better understand the ways to stay focused so that you can keep working hard.


Organize your life.

Being unorganized can waste a significant amount of your time and can lead a person to lose focus, pay late fees, stress, lose items, and more.

Whatever you are trying to focus on, organization is key.

Just think about it: If you need something but cannot find it, you will most likely lose focus on whatever it is that you were doing. This makes it more difficult to become focused or to stay concentrated on a task because your mind will be all over the place.

Being organized is a big part of knowing how to stay focused because it helps you stay on task and finish whatever it is that you were trying to do.

Here are some surprising statistics about being unorganized:

  • The average person spends 12 days per year looking for things they can’t find.
  • Every day the average office worker spends 1.5 hours looking for things.
  • In a recent survey, 55% of consumers stated they would save anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes a day if they were organized.
  • 23% of people pay bills late and have to pay late fees because they are unable to find their bills.


Downsize and declutter.

As you learned above, staying organized can help you keep your concentration and focus. To go along with that, you should also think about downsizing and decluttering.

Downsizing and getting rid of some of your stuff can keep you focused because you’ll have less stuff and items cluttering your mind.

By having less stuff, you won’t have to spend as much time cleaning, repairing and maintaining items, and so on. This will allow you to better focus on the things that you truly want to achieve, such as paying off your debt, starting a business, and so on.


Have a to-do list.

If there is something coming up that I know I will not remember, I will create a reminder and add it to my to-do list. This makes managing my life easier because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things, missing payments, etc.

This also connects to the importance of staying organized when learning how to stay focused.

I create reminders for things such as:

  • Business tasks and to-do lists.
  • Appointments.
  • When it’s time to pay estimated quarterly tax payments.
  • Renewing license plate tags for our cars.
  • Paying semiannual bills, such as car insurance.

This all makes sure I know exactly what I need to do. Nothing is ever forgotten, and I don’t even spend time wondering if I forgot something. This gives me more time to stay focused on what truly matters.


Outsource certain tasks.

When understanding how to stayed focused on reaching your goals, you may find that outsourcing certain tasks will give you more time and energy to reach those goals.

This may mean doing something such as hiring someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, or do car repairs. This will give you more time to start your business on the side or whatever your goal might be.

In order to outsource effectively and to make sure that it is worth it to outsource, you will want to think about a few things, such as:

  • Could you earn more in that time by outsourcing or would you be better off doing the work yourself?
  • Do you feel comfortable doing the task or would you be better off leaving it to an expert?
  • Would outsourcing the task help you to better focus on your goal?


Spend less time on social media.

The average person spends many, many hours on social media each week.

Between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others it can be quite easy to waste your entire day.

If you find that you are spending too much time on social media and that it is negatively impacting you, you may want to shut down the social media accounts that you are spending too much time on. You can even create a time block so you cannot access your accounts during certain periods of the day, and so on.

By spending less time on social media, you won’t have as many time wasting distractions that make figuring out how to stay focused so difficult.

Just think about what you could do with a few extra hours a day if you stopped spending as much time on social media!

Related: Why I’m Taking A Social Media Break


Watch less TV and stay concentrated.

I love a good TV show, but I can honestly say that I watch too much TV. The average person watches TV for over 35 hours a week!

Can you imagine what you could do by reclaiming just half of those hours each week?

By watching less TV, you’ll have more time to focus on your goals.

Just like social media, think about what you could do with a few extra hours a day if you stopped watching TV!


Have less clothing options.

The average successful person has a very limited set of clothing options, as this way they have more time to focus on things that truly matter.

By finding items that already match one another and having a smaller wardrobe, you’ll have more time to focus on other more important things.


Make your goal visual.

When learning how to stay focused, one of the best ways is to make your goal visual.

Having your goal displayed in front of you can make it that much more real, plus it’s nice to have a constant reminder of what you’re working towards.

Various ways to make your goal visual include:

  • Create a graphic that demonstrates your goal. An example of this would be if your goal is to pay off your house. You could have a picture of a house sectioned into 100 pieces. Then, each time you reach a small payoff goal, you can color a piece in. I did some research and found a blog post about many other creative ways to do this on A Cultivated Nest.
  • Keep a picture of your goal on hand. Whether your goal is a vacation, starting a business, an item you want, or something else, having a picture can keep you reminded of it.
  • Start a blog. Blogging greatly helped me with my goals. I could easily look back to see how I was doing. Plus, I felt like I had to keep myself accountable and keep improving due to the fact that everything was public. If interested, you can start a blog for cheap with my easy tutorial.


Start saying no more often.

If you say yes to everything, but you are ready to pull your hair out, then you may want to start saying no.

Limiting the things you are accountable for can teach you how to stay focused on one thing. It can also allow you to have more time to focus on what you truly want by simplifying your life.


Stay motivated.

Even with how much I love saving money, every now and then it becomes easy to get unmotivated and want to SPEND ALL THE MONEY!

I’m sure I’m not alone either.

While many choose to live a frugal life, it’s not always easy. Some have large amounts of debt to pay off, others find it hard to stick to a budget, and more.

Finding financial motivators will help you continue to work hard towards your goal, even when it seems impossible. Without motivation, one might give up on a financial goal quite easily. This is why it’s so important to learn how to stay motivated.

Read more at Paying Off Debt And Budgeting: Tricks For Staying Motivated.


Think before you multi-task.

Some people can multitask successfully, but with the large amount of time it takes to refocus on a new task, many people cannot.

So, if you are constantly switching back and forth, you will have to spend extra time refocusing each time you switch from one task to another.

Think about your strengths and weaknesses to understand whether or not multitasking actually helps you save time. For the most part, single-tasking will allow you to simplify your life and focus better.

Do you know how to stay focused? What tips do you have to share with all of us on how to stay focused?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Cody @ Dollar Habits

    These are really great suggestions, Michelle. Two of the biggest ones for me are staying organized and having a to-do list. With starting a new blog, I’ve found the to-do list to be paramount and staying organized, both with my thoughts and physical materials, enables me to stay focused.

  2. I love that you started with your “why”. I think it has the power to keep you going if you actually figure out why you want to stay focused on something. It’s exactly why I can get up at 5am to blog before I go to work — this is my passion! 🙂

  3. Mustard Seed Money

    At work I drink a ton of water. It forces me to get up throughout the day and allows me to walk and a lot of the time I am able to work through some problems in my head that I wouldn’t otherwise figure out if I was grinding it out at my desk.

  4. These are great tips. I often remind myself of the saying, “you can have anything you want, but not everything”. So when I invite something new into my life, I create space by letting something else go. Otherwise, I’m sabotaging myself right out of the gate.

    Example: I recently signed up for Elite Blog Academy. Knowing it was going to take extra time to work on the exercises each day, I decided to do a batch cooking session. I prepped 9 meals for my slow cooker in 90 minutes. That saves me an hour a day! That time is now for EBA work. 🙂

  5. So many great tips here! Focus is so important to me and something I am always striving to get better at so I can hit my goals faster. One huge goal for me is deciding to finally pay my debt off. So far my husband and I have paid off around $4,000, and nothing is stopping us this time!

    I’ve also learned the magic of waking up early in the mornings to give myself time to focus on tasks I want to get done and goals I want to work on. There is no time like it, as the rest of my day is filled with interacting with others, so I’ve learned to cherish those early hours of the morning.

    1. Great job on working to pay off debt!

  6. Awesome and helpful post, Michelle. I’m in serious need of some focus these days. LOTS to do and I am looking for ways to figure out how to do it all. Thank you!!

  7. Go Finance Yourself!

    I think a big reason why some don’t like taking breaks is because they do the wrong activity for their break. I know if I take a break by watching TV or mindlessly surfing the internet or some other time suck, it’s going to be really hard for me to get myself back on task. Taking a break to do something that is productive, or at least not completely distracting, will allow you to much more easily come back to the task at hand and be more refreshed.

    Also good point on focusing on your why. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of what your trying to do and get overwhelmed. I know it always helps me to take a step back and think about my end goal. That’s always something that will re-energize me and help me focus.

  8. Lindsey Mozgai

    If it wasn’t for my planner and to do list, I would be lost in an endless sea of not knowing what to do. Often there are so many things I have to do at once that my head feels like it might fall off. My to do list is what keeps me focusing on the main goals first, making the rest of my day a breeze!

    1. Yes, I NEED my to do list 🙂

  9. Mrs. BITA

    I am a sucker for todo lists. Show me a todo list and I am compelled to compulsively start ticking off everything on it, so that technique works really well for me. I think the key thing is to find something that works for you, and it won’t be the same thing for everyone.

      1. Cody @ Dollar Habits

        Have either of you ever done something not on your list and then added it to your list just so you could have the satisfaction of crossing it off? I do it all the time. Haha.

  10. Great tips!!! I actually just quit my job to stay home with my girls and…blog! Yay!! However, three kids is keeping me busy, so I’m finding I need to re-prioritize my day just a bit. I’m making a loose schedule this week to help me stay focused, and will keep every single one of your tips in mind! Thanks, Michelle!!

  11. Catherine

    Hey Michelle! Love love love this! I’m really curious though, if you had to pick one strategy that made you focus (and stay focused) what would you say that would be? Also, what is your Myers Briggs Personality Type (I promise there’s a relevant point)?

    I have this theory that some productivity strategies work more on certain personality types rather than others and I’m curious what different successful people’s “go to” strategies to help them focus?

    Your Favorite Myers Briggs Junkie,

    Catherine Treme

    1. Haha, I’ve never even done that, but I’ll do it soon!

      The main thing that keeps me focused is a to-do list. Seriously, I need it!

  12. Audrey Pincott

    One of my favorite posts. Extremely valuable tips and goal / time management strategies.

  13. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Exercise and meditation are life-changing. They make me more productive and less stressed. I know people love to say they can multi-task, but I’m happiest when I focus on one thing at a time. Depth over breadth. 🙂 Also, this is sort of unrelated yet still related, but I switched medications this month and I feel much happier and more focused. If you have medical conditions or are taking medications, be aware of how they affect your cognition. You might need to talk to the doc about other options. I’m really glad I did.

  14. Kristen Pasche

    Thank you for the great advice!

  15. Mrs. Farmhouse Finance

    This is really great advice. I completely agree with the working out part. Even on days that I don’t feel like running, I know that if I get out the door on a run, I’ll feel more centered the rest of the day. Daily routines like meditation or running really help to bring clarity and focus to your whole day.

  16. This is excellent Michelle! One thing I started doing is listing out my Top 3 things that have to get done today. That means that no matter what happens today these three things must get done. This has really helped me stay focused and has helped me learn how to prioritize what’s important and what’s not 🙂

    1. This is a really great idea!

  17. Wow! Where do I start on these awesome tips? I think my favorite is the technique to staying focused. I have found this to helped me get through Grad School with a full time job and is now helping me with entrepreneurial adventures with that same full time job. I day dream about living a life without a car payment, student loan payments, and a house payment. Oh my that would be amazing!

    I need to work on some of the things you mentioned such as decluttering, less social media, and less Netflix.

    I really like your idea of visualizing my goals. It would be nice to have them on the wall next to my computer to see them everyday. This way I never forget why I am making the sacrifices I am.

    Keep up the great work!

    – Adam

  18. ReachingTheCrest

    Love so many of these recommendations.

    One of my tricks is to combine fitness with watching TV or learning new things by listening to pod casts or watching YouTube videos.

    Not multi tasking is the ‘new’ best thing compared to a few years ago where people would brag about how much they would multi task. Focusing on one thing is so much better.

  19. SavvySavingandSpending

    This is all really good advice. Thank you! I really have to get more organized and work on staying off social media when I’m trying to be productive. Love your blog!

  20. Adriana @MoneyJourney

    I love that you mentioned exercising among other things 🙂

    I would have never guessed it, but exercising regularly gives you a boost of daily energy that you just can’t get any other way! I took a break from exercising for about 1 year when I started working at my last job, and boy was I sorry after a while!

    I’ve also noticed that social media is cause for defocus. Before having all sorts of accounts, I was able to accomplish so much in just 1 day! Now I wonder where the heck does my day go!

    However, it’s not impossible to stay away from social media. I have the perfect method that works for me: ignore! 😀 I actually have my Facebook page opened as I type, but I learned to just ignore it and check it later. Knowing you can control yourself is a very powerful feeling. I’ve learned to focus on what needs to be done ad treat social media time as a reward, as opposed to a waste of time 🙂

  21. You have given some really Amazing Post! Thank you for the ideas.

  22. Moïse

    Really nice tips 🙂 The biggest ones I struggle with the most are spending less time on social media and saying no more often.

  23. Holly

    Every day has 1440 minutes. My calendar is broken down into 15 minute blocks. My to do tasks are placed on my calendar and I’m forces to keep close track of my time. It’s amazing what I’m able to accomplish just because I’m keeping track of my time.

    Another good post Michelle. I love how you have so many good reasons for staying concentrated!

  24. Those are very useful and practical tips on staying focused. I always need a to-do-list for a day. It not only tells me what need to be done but also reminds me at the end of the day how much I have done!

  25. Wow! These are great. Very eye opening. My wife looses the remote every time she touches it so I am sure she is over the 12 day average looking for things =).

  26. Manuel

    These are great suggestions!

    I use a to-do-list for every month of the year for my big goals. A weekly to-do-list for each and every day. And a daily to-do-list that I make on that day with my 3 main goals and also the small ones below. This really skyrocket my productivity!

    I’m glad that many of those things you listed aren’t things I have to deal with. I’m not using Facebook, etc. anymore. Only Twitter and Instagram for about 10 minutes a day. I’m also not watching TV anymore. From time to time 1-2 films a week.

    I would also like to add that breaks depend heavily on the task you do. If you’re learning for exams it totally helps to make breaks every 40-45 minutes for about 15-20 minutes. But if you’re doing tasks that let you perform the best when you’re in a flow state (programming very difficult features for me); it’s great to work 2-3 hours without a break and reach this state.

  27. “Stay off social media”
    But aw, I got here from your Twitter Michelle! Lol! Just kidding, thanks for the list 🙂

    The making things visual thing sound cheesy at first but my friend came over from California on layover and showed me how to make a vision board. I thought it was cheesy but when she left I sort of looked at it and said…OK I need to make a change…*started blogging and working 11 hour days*

  28. Luiza

    Good! Really nice tips 🙂 The biggest ones I struggle with the most are spending less time on social media and saying no more often.

  29. Becky

    Great tips, Michelle! I’ve canceled my Twitter and don’t really watch much TV anymore. I also use a Chrome extension to remove my FB newsfeed and Trending while preserving my groups. It’s been a game changer!

    Another thing I’ve noticed – I’m in my late 50’s and had begun reaching for my words. it was really bothering me. Then I went on a Keto diet and almost immediately my focus kicked into overdrive. I was having trouble focusing for 5 minutes before but now I can focus for a couple of hours at a time. I never realized how much your diet affected your ability to focus!