Have you ever put enormous amounts of work into a goal and had absolutely nothing to show for it? Sometimes effort can feel like running on a treadmill; you run for miles, and in the end, you’ve gone nowhere at all. Consider for a moment what the problem is when this happens. It’s not that your efforts have been lacking, you’re putting everything into this. It’s not that this is an impossible task, there are no limitations to what can be done. The problem, more likely than not, is your focus. I’m not saying that you’re not focusing on your work, but that the work you are doing is either so broad that it’s impossible to make headway or that where you are putting your efforts isn’t productive for the end result at all. Much like the sun, which requires focus to light a fire, you aren’t focusing on the most useful aspect of your work.
When I was younger my most hated chore was cleaning my room, my mother would yell at me to clean my room, and I would pick up random objects throughout the room and when she would check back an hour later, it would look like I hadn’t picked up anything at all. One day instead of just telling me to clean my room, she told me she wanted me to clean just a tiny three by three-foot square in the room. Since the area was so small I finished cleaning it and had it perfect in about five minutes at the most. She continued to tell me to clean small areas of my room until 30 minutes later, when the room was organized and, the entire floor was cleaned. As a reward for cleaning so quickly, she vacuumed the room for me (another chore I hated). Once I was told where to direct my focus, not only was I able to see my progress coming along quickly, I was able to finish in less time than it would take to even see progress at all.
There are two ways you can focus on productivity: you can knock out the hardest part of the project first (without side-tracking), or you can knock out the easiest (read fastest) part first to get progress you can see quickly when you first begin. When you focus on what matters most, without being distracted by minor details, you light a fire within yourself. Once you learn to change your focus, you begin to change how you handle situations in everyday life.