Get Stuff Done: How to Get and Stay Focused

by Marcia Hoeck

You’re creative. And you know that creative people have a gazillion ideas bounding into their brains at all times. Call it the creative curse, the “bright shiny object” syndrome, or your own funny quirks, the fact is, your mind does wander off task whenever something interesting floats by.

This isn’t helpful if you’re overwhelmed, stressed with deadlines, and trying to get stuff done.

Here’s my favorite tip for getting and staying focused:
Up the ante on your accountability.

If you work for someone, you already have built-in accountability—your boss expects you to get your part of the project done, and you may have team members depending on you as well. But you still may need a boost to keep your mind focused and on task.

If you’re your own boss, and there’s no one directing you and setting expectations, it can be crippling if you find yourself getting stuck in the weeds often.

Here are some easy ways to get more accountable:

Get An Accountability Buddy
Find someone else who needs accountability and check up on each other. Meet regularly, share your goals, and encourage each other to accomplish them. I know about two writers who are writing their books this way, in different cities: they chat for five minutes daily, early in the morning, just to make sure they’re both at their computers and ready to write for the agreed-upon length of time. Without that accountability, one of them told me she’s sure she’d sleep in.

Join A Peer Group Or Mastermind Group
These groups, which meet regularly in person or by phone, encourage each other to work towards objectives, and it can be embarrassing to show up without having made progress. Many creatives find these groups very inspiring, motivating, and challenging, especially if the other members are committed, too. If you can’t find a group to fit you, start your own.

Make A Public Announcement
If you can’t focus on a particular client project, announce to your team members (or a few friends) that you’d love their input, and you’ll have roughs to run by them in a few hours. If you can’t focus on doing research on a topic you need to write about, send an email blast to your mailing list announcing a free teleseminar on the topic, and schedule it. If you can’t focus on getting your office organized, set a date and invite clients and colleagues an open house in your newly organized office.

Hire A Coach Or Consultant
There’s nothing like investing in yourself to get unstuck. Choose this person correctly, and you’ll get valuable insight into yourself and your business as well as ongoing direction, encouragement, and accountability. For every public person who wants to be at the top of their game, whether they’re an athlete, entertainer, or politician, you’ll find a coach (or two, or three) supporting and providing accountability from the sidelines.

One of these ideas for getting accountability should help you get and stay focused. What are you waiting for?



As creative professionals, our overactive imaginations can sometimes be a challenge to manage, with our minds wandering off-task whenever something new comes up. This can be especially difficult if you are your own boss. Developing accountability practices, like finding a professional peer group, or hiring a coach can help you and your practice stay on task.


Quick Tip
1. Notice when your mind is most likely to wander and plan to work around it. Do you have the most problem focusing during a mid-afternoon dip in energy? Plan on packing up your laptop and working at Starbucks for an hour or two. Or just grab a notebook and move to the conference room. A change in environment can often jump-start creativity and focus.

2. Sometimes a “public announcement” can be as simple as standing up and announcing something out loud, even if there’s no one around to hear it. If you find your mind wandering, stand up, shake your arms, and declare out loud, “I am going to make client phone calls for the next hour.” Even if you’re the only one who hears it, there’s something about making the announcement that tricks your brain into focus.


Dig Deeper!
1. Take a look at my article, “Everyone Needs a Mastermind.” I met the group pictured here (only one of my mastermind groups!) at a HOW MYOB workshop nine years ago, and we’re still meeting in person, with a goal of three to four get-togethers per year.

2. Network at the upcoming HOW Design Live for mastermind or accountability buddies.

3. Check out paid coaches and consultants. The momentum generated in your business can propel you far beyond the investment. Register for a complimentary Laser Coaching session with me for a taste, or look into one of the many other excellent consultants serving the design industry.

4. Learn tips from Marcia Hoeck on how to strengthen your business.


2 thoughts on “Get Stuff Done: How to Get and Stay Focused

  1. Marcia Hoeck

    Thanks, Marty. We all need our little tricks! Can you describe more about how you made this work? Did you meet regularly? Did you have set rules? What if one of you fell off the wagon? Love to hear details of how people use this strategy.

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