Your ability to focus correlates with your solopreneur success: Here’s how to develop that skill

By Henry Brown

There’s no question about the fact that we live in the age of the solopreneur and the remote worker.

The internet has fundamentally – and perhaps forever – changed the way in which we do work. Whereas companies once had a vested interest in having all professional tasks managed in-house, many now see the benefit of working with remote workers of various types, including freelancers, and “offshore” workers.

Indeed, the benefits to traditional employers of forming working relationships with this new breed of remote workers are so apparent, that guides such as the following detail workarounds for potential issues with these arrangements, as opposed to discouraging them or diminishing their value:

The author Cal Newport has had a lot to say about the importance of focus in productivity in the modern world, where distraction and digital technologies render “deep work” essential for anyone who wants to compete against automated services.

As a solopreneur, this is especially important for you. So, here are some tips for boosting your ability to focus and be maximally productive.

Continually reset your focus on your core competencies, and business mission

Solopreneurs are often at risk of trying to “do it all,” which seems like a natural consequence of running your own business, to some extent. All the same, you can either be a “jack of all trades” or a master of one.

Doing many jobs to a mediocre standard will largely make you redundant in the face of increasingly advanced digital technology.

So, continually reset your focus on your core competencies, and your business mission. Do one or two things very well, and ignore the rest.

Find opportunities in your day to “practice boredom”

One of Newport’s counterintuitive suggestions in his books Deep Work, and Digital Minimalism is that to boost your ability to focus and do maximally effective work, you should “practice boredom.”

Recent research in the field of neuroscience seems to suggest that the ability to do deep, focused work is something you train by pitting yourself against boredom and refusing to give in to distraction.

Newport’s suggestion, then, is that you should introduce boredom into your life in measured doses. Do things that provide little intellectual excitement or stimulation. Wash your dishes without the radio on. Practice reading difficult books.

To the extent that you can become comfortable with boredom – you should also become better at doing focused and effective work.

Fuel your body properly

These days, there are many different popular diet methodologies out there. One of the most consistently popular of these recommends that people routinely restrict their caloric intake to a large degree, and cut out macronutrient such as carbs to lose weight and so on.

Research dating back to the 1940s – specifically the Minnesota Starvation Experiment – show evidence that significant caloric restriction reduces a person’s ability to focus, their ability to work effectively, and their overall cognitive ability.

There is also some evidence to suggest that carb-restrictive diets may do the same.

If your goal is to work in a focused and effective manner, fuel yourself effectively, and ensure that the way you eat makes you feel energized, and focused instead of scatterbrained, and distracted.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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