The choir doth preach: Focus, programmer, lest ye be distracted to failure. You listen. This week you will define your goals and accomplish them. You will succeed…

Suddenly it is Friday and you know not what you have done. Your back hurts. You’ve knowledge-worked so hard as to cause yourself physical pain. What was it you set out Monday to achieve?

Focus is a learned skill that must be practiced. You cannot wish yourself to a focused work week or a focused life. Goals are a first step. Limits help you carve out pockets of time. Practice leads to forming one of the most powerful habits you can learn.

It is impossible to maintain focus without defining limits. Pick your goals and plan time to focus on the problem at hand. Clear a day or several mornings. Remove the distractions of email and chat. Communicate your intent.

And focus.

Plan your time to work. Plan your time not to work. Do not break your rules for any reason outside of a true emergency. You cannot be a true practitioner of a focused life if you throw your limits out on a whim. Do not check email, Twitter, and Facebook. Shut off the notifications.

As focus is engrained within you, your accomplishments will speak for themselves. Others will seek to emulate you; your sense of purpose. You will be ruthless in eliminating distractions. You will have more success in your career. You will be intentional with your free time. You will be happier.

All because you learned to focus.