Think back to when you were a child playing with a magnifying-glass in the sun.. maybe you were burning ants (my apologies to the humane society) or maybe you were just burning holes in paper. It’s amazing the energy you can harness, and the subsequent disruptive power you can produce through a focused effort!
The other great aspect of the magnifying-glass is its’ power to reflect the greatest hidden details in what otherwise my be overlooked by the naked eye. The only other more powerful tool I can think of that get’s the job done is practical experience; the sensation that you can do it with your eyes closed & one leg tied behind your back.
Great focus requires discipline
Discipline; something I’m a fan of, but that I also have to work very hard at in various aspects of my life. If you’ve ever experienced not being able to sit down to work on something without quickly switching to email, a favorite Internet forum or sites, that’s an example of poor discipline. What’s behind that lacking discipline is your acceptance of distractions, which in themselves can have significant anchors in phycological factors.
When you can clear away distractions, when you set your mind to something / one-thing, that changes everything! You lose yourself in that task, become so immersed that you pour everything you have into the work, and it becomes a meditative, transformative experience. Your happiness increases, stress goes down, and your work improves.
When was the last time you felt that natural high?
Focusing on single tasks
Our brains are not designed like the motherboard of a pc! We do NOT have a parallel-bus supported by technology to boost the energy drain as our logic passes through our internal circuitry. Our circuitry WILL bleed energy & we will NOT be able to give 100% of our most productive state to multiple parallel tasks. So if you’re going to multi-task, do it on tasks that are still in draft stage, or don’t require a flawless degree of output.
Focus Best Practices
This post was inspired whilst reading Zenhabits’ “Monk Mind: How to Increase Your Focus“. They share the best-in-class practices that many have already put into effective use;
- Close the browser and your email program
- Turn off all notifications
- Turn off the Internet
- Close all programs and windows other than what you need for this one task
- Have a very important & specific task to do
- Clear your desk
- Plug in the headphones (preferably without vocals)
I will add to that;
- Turn off your phone, including the “vibrate function”
- Seat yourself in a location / environment without any visual distractions (even out of the corner of your eye)
I call this “bunker mode”, and the objective is to find a distraction-free environment that becomes highly conducive for productive output.
What if I still can’t seem to focus?
As the article says; “If you can’t focus on one task for very long, don’t worry. That’s normal. Our brains have been trained by technology and society to switch tasks often.”
Over the course of our life-time we’ve adopted ingrained habits that are extremely difficult to change. Just like loosing weight, stop smoking, chewing fingernails, etc.., old / engrained habits are hard to break! The only sure fire remedy is to replace them with new improved & productive habits through continual practice.
6 Golden Rules
- Start small
- Reward yourself
- Repeat, repeat, repeat
- Increase in small steps
- Keep taking baby steps
- Stop, reflect & plan your next adjustment (pulse-check)
That final one is the most effective! You have to stop & measure your success / progress in order to make the necessary adjustments. At the end of the morning for some, at the end of the day for others. Whatever works for you! Your natural human tendency will be to revert back to temptation, revert back to your old unproductive habits. That’s why AA lives by the rule of one step / day at a time!
I’d love to hear back from you with success stories! Whether you’ve already tried some of these, have some of your own, or just come back to me after you’ve tried a few.. we could all learn for your own experience!