How to focus on what’s really important

Have you ever felt it was just too hard to focus on the important things? It might be at work, it might be at home, or it might be with life in general?

The important things are about the future. To move forward, we have to let some things go. That’s hard, stressful, and sometimes overwhelming.

Mental Health UK reports that in the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed that they feel overwhelmed or are unable to cope.

I understand this feeling. I’m in the middle of moving house at the moment – downsizing, but taking 3 teenage boys with me! We can’t take everything with us – though I can confirm that all 3 boys have made the cut for the move. We’re going through everything – there is stuff everywhere. But there’s a clear deadline – moving day, and we’ve got a fixed limit on what we can take with us. This is a great metaphor for the need to focus on what’s important in a world where we have limits on what we can do, and people relying on us to get things done.

Letting go to focus on what’s important

We’ve lived in this house for over 10 years. This spans the period with children at pre-school, with prams, car seats, and daily paintings through to children in the final year of high school and learning to drive. Let alone all the things that the adults have managed to acquire during that time. Our needs have changed, so we’re moving to an apartment – with less space – deliberately.

After a few highly unproductive sessions of pulling things out of cupboards, boxes, the attic, the shed and other hiding places, I realised I was going to need some structure. We want to simplify things – take the important things with us, free ourselves from the rest and thus allow us to move forward to the future with open arms. I was pretty clear on what’s important, but if you need a hand – read this article.

That’s when I came up with the 3 D’s:

  • Display
  • Digitise
  • Delete (or Destroy, if you’re feeling a real passion for the process)


This involves choosing the things that we want to see everyday. They go on the shelf, or on the wall, or on the desk. Or in the case of furniture, they’re the things we keep


This is how we retain important memories without cluttering up our everyday focus. Mostly, this involves taking photos of the things that are important, but that we no longer use, or aren’t meaningful enough to put on display. Then we back the files up in multiple locations, just to make sure. Then we’re free to get rid of the items themselves


Yep, this is where we get rid of things.  Everything else has to go. To be clear, this involves getting rid of things from our environment. They may have value for someone else, so I strongly advocate selling or donating these items so someone else can re-use them. The rest will need to be thrown out. It is really cathartic. It also serves as a reminder about the temporary use of so many things. I’ve vowed to cut down on buying ‘stuff’ from now on, and focus more on experiences. Hopefully that lasts.

By following a few simple strategies, it is possible to improve our focus and prioritize the things that matter most.

By the way, I also asked chat GPT how to improve focus on what is important at work and in life, and got this advice as well:

  • Set clear goals
  • Prioritize your tasks
  • Minimize distractions
  • Take breaks
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Delegate or outsource
  • Stay organized

These are all really useful too – perhaps the subject of another post!

In conclusion, staying focused on what is important in life requires us to move forward. Moving forward requires us to let some things go, and create space for whatever the future holds. By actively deciding which things we want to take with us (display), and safeguarding the things we want to remember (digitise) we can then let go of the rest (discard) and move towards the future.  It won’t be easy, it takes practice and discipline, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Whatever you do, do it with heart.

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