On any given day there are countless people and activities trying to get our time and attention. We are bombarded by information from smartphones, social media, text messages, television, tablets, emails and more. What about daily drama, rumors, gossip, negative thinking and self-doubt or your parents’ getting on your case about something? All are constantly seeking to capture their share of our attention units. Let’s add this into the daily mix of your mental “to do” list: school, friends, family, work, school activities and studying. All of a sudden you are on overload. Sound familiar?

Oops, I almost forgot…what about all those things you haven’t finished. We call those “incompletes.” You know, that person you said you’d call or text right back and you’ve forgotten. Or work or school projects you have to finish or have put-off due to lack of time or urgency. These things add up by consuming all your attention units, daily.

Imagine being able to focus most of your attention units on your dreams and direction in life! Imagine not getting distracted by the drama of life and having “confidence in” rather than “worry about” the future or the past and having such an exciting day today that you can hardly wait until tomorrow. Creating the habit of investing your Attention Units wisely will quickly and easily make those dreams come true.

Let’s start with the basics: An attention unit is your ability to remember and keep information in the forefront of your mind. Think of it as the storage capacity of a computer data stick. You only have the capacity to hold so much “stuff,” so a lot of important information gets lost or misplaced. The results are forgotten assignments, missed deadlines, broken promises and agreements, feelings of frustration, guilt, self-doubt and “if only I would have.”

The Facts:

  1. There are only 24-hours in a day. (This will never change – don’t invest time wishing it were different.)
  2. Attention Units – we only have so many. The idea here is to free up as many as possible each day to allow you to reach you maximum potential on any given day. (i.e. the more I get done in my 24 hours)

So what’s the answer? Getting organized is the most effective habit to begin with. In starting, place your attention units here. Develop habit patterns that work to support your success. In this case the same old same old is a great thing. Make it work to your advantage as you develop habits that will make your success inevitable.

Here are some quick tips that will help you stay focused, do more and be more.

1. Develop systems to keep organized.

A system is a habit of always doing the same thing the same way. Always put your books in the same place. Always put your homework in the same place. Here are a few other areas to develop habits to stay organized: locker, sports bag, book bag, desk, bedroom, study area, laundry and dirty clothes, dresser and the inside of your car.

2. Plan tomorrow the night before.

Know what you are going to wear the night before. Know what you have to do tomorrow. What commitments do you have? Review tomorrow in your mind just before you fall asleep and see yourself being successful. Then let it all go and get a good night’s sleep.

3. Develop the habit of using a daily planner.

Most schools now have Agendas for each student. Learn to use this great tool. Learning to use this tool effectively frees up so many attention units that it’s unreal.

4. Develop the habit of writing down assignments and always taking notes.

Add commitments you make to others and yourself. Always know where your agenda is and keep it with you most of the time.

Speed Tips For Getting Started and Successful Results:

First, do a major cleaning of your world – locker, sports bag, bedroom, study area, laundry and dirty clothes, dresser and the inside of your car.

Create a daily checklist to make these habits a part of your life. Before long you will notice your attention units are now focused on your dreams and direction in life. Remember, it takes 30 consecutive days of doing something before it becomes a part of your unconscious habit pattern. (The key word here is consecutive.)

Oh, I almost forgot! Rumors and gossip, worrying and putting things off – are all wasted attention units that hold you back in life. I know, no one’s perfect and some days we all get distracted by the drama of life. Make a commitment to yourself to not get distracted too long!

The world rewards action! What is one action step you will take right now?

Larry Tracey, author of this article, is an author and founder of Youth4Youth.  Y4Y engages youth in developing habits and behaviors for leadership and success in life. Teens practice these skills by promoting their message of respect in their school and community. Have a question or thoughts? Contact Larry through youth4youth.org, email info@youth4youth.org or by phone at 623.208.3230.