How Do You Keep Your Focus – When all Hell is Breaking Loose?

Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.

—Dennis Waitley

We’ve all experienced it; we need to focus on an important, time-sensitive task when suddenly we feel as if we had been tossed into a tornado. Fires needing our immediate attention start right and left. So, how can you keep your focus when all hell is breaking loose?

Get clear on the objective

The first step is to get clear on the objective. What specifically must be accomplished? Unless you have a clear view of the target, you will continue to wander, ever so slightly, off-track until you eventually find yourself facing the entirely wrong direction.

Trim the fat

Once you get clear on what you need to do, the second step is to trim the fat. To trim the fat is to minimize the excess noise you are exposed to. This includes people, data, communication, paperwork, etc. Excess noise can distract us even when we aren’t in a crunch; when the stress is on, the distraction is amplified.

Don’t forget about you

We can only keep our nose to the grindstone for so long before we start to become inefficient and ineffective. So, step three is to not forget about you. You need to recharge. It may be a short walk or a quick cup of coffee at the corner shop but, you can’t focus in the midst of chaos without taking a moment here and there to get your thoughts together.

Move Forward

As Dennis Waitley stated, in order to move forward you must focus your energy on what to do next. So, get clear on the objective. Then trim the fat. And, last but not least, don’t forget about you. The more focused energy you can give to the task at hand, the sooner you will be available to attend to the fires burning around you.


Dr. Liz Stincelli
Dr. Liz Stincelli
LIZ is passionate about recognizing, inspiring, and igniting the leader in each of us. She focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership. Liz offers 20+ years of pro-active operations management, problem-solving, team-building, human resources, accounting, and business administration experience in a variety of industries. She serves on the Editorial Review Board for the Independent Journal of Management and Production and the Journal of Managerial Psychology. She has also been a guest lecturer at the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, Westminster College.

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  1. Excellent tips we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

    I would like to add that interiorizing a sense of calm – never easy – which greatly depends on being at peace with yourself and your Creator is the key. Being caring, seeking silence, cultivating self space as well as calming the waters with a sense of humour (where and when appropriate) and avoiding huffing and puffing (which only grate on the nerves) also help a great deal. It’s also good to remember TWO salient points:

    1) Our true colours come out in the way we react to emergencies, chaos or devastating news
    2) We cannot do it alone.

  2. I liked your article Liz, thank you! In terms of “trimming the fat” and getting clear in what to do next – I have come to the point of having one clear focus with what I am doing and doing it well before moving on to the next one. This has helped saved personal burnout in which you so aptly stated!