Eliminate the Noise: How to Create Focus in the Midst of Chaos

focus goals Apr 13, 2020

This might have been a quiet time. 

Generations ago, an epidemic or plague shut people in their homes with no means of contacting the outside world. A yellow quarantine notice kept everyone outside away and isolated those within. Life inside would have been very quiet.

Today, the internet has brought the noise of the world inside even though we can’t go out. It provides a measure of social contact and allows us to continue to work, learn and grow in our isolation. But is all that noise helpful? Does it create more stress than it resolves?

Some of my students tell me that this is the case for them. There are so many online offerings, particularly free ones, that they find harder to focus, more difficult to work and more stressful. Just when it seems that you would have time to recenter yourself and clarify your thoughts, you are being bombarded by opportunities that end up overwhelming you and adding to the very stress you would like them to relieve.

At Harp Mastery, we have added our own small measure of noise, attempting to maintain the connections among the harpists in our community, foster new harp friendships and help harpists find the peace, calm and relaxation they long for in their harp playing. 

Perhaps you’re one of those who are finding the internet information explosion to be too much of a good thing. It’s tempting to survey the vast array of offerings and, like the proverbial kid in the candy store, end up with an aching belly and a sugar rush. How do you manage the flow of opportunities so that you can use them to your advantage rather than drowning in them?  There are three simple steps: Filter. Decide. Act.


My inbox this week had eight different businesses offering the same type of opportunity. Each offer was one that interested me, but there was considerable overlap. Before I clicked and signed up for each program, I took a moment to consider which ones seemed nearly identical and therefore redundant to an extent, and  which seemed like they were complementary, each adding value to the other. 

For instance, six businesses offered me courses on how to protect my business in this crisis. While most of the programs seemed to cover the same thing, there was one that really grabbed my attention and two more that offered related resources that I could download. In this way I was able to eliminate all the others from my inbox and start filtering out the noise.

To do the same for your inbox overload, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are these offerings identical (or nearly so)? 
  • Which one appears to fit my needs best?
  • Are there offerings that complement that one without too much overlap? 

From those that seem identical, choose one and eliminate the others. Then go to the next step.


Next you need to choose what will be most helpful to you at this moment and what you will put away for another day. Imagine being in the candy store and deciding which chocolate bar you will eat now and which you will put in the freezer to save for later. Is the opportunity time-sensitive or particularly important for you right now? Is it a resource you can download and study at your convenience? Will it have more value to you now (cost less, save you money, address an immediate need) than it will at another time?

Consider the opportunities you identified in step one. Of the possibilities you still have to consider, which one will you choose to take advantage of now? Choosing just one at a time will reduce the possibility of overwhelm. It will also free up your mind to relax, focus and learn.


All that is left is for you to take action. Any opportunity - a class, a challenge, a course, a workshop - will only benefit you if you are able to commit to it. Once you have made your decision on what you want to do, then do it! 

Here is your first chance to try out this system. 

We at Harp Mastery are offering a free, 5 day challenge called “15 Minutes of Focus: Making Progress in Your Practice When You Don’t Have Time, Energy or a Clue What to Do.It’s fun, fast and free and it will give you tools and practice plans to help you filter out the noise and focus on your practice now and in the future. It might be just what you need now, but you should find out more to be sure. FOCUS CHALLENGE

I would love to have you join us for the challenge, but if it isn’t something you can focus on right now, I understand!


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