It’s the information age and the net is full of goodies to distract us.
We’ll get an email or stumble across interesting articles and wham, minutes turn to hours and we wonder where the time went. I’m as guilty as anyone, but lately, my ability to focus has increased and that one thing has changed my life.
Not long ago, I found it tough to focus on a single task without bouncing over to check email, visiting Facebook or catching a fav on NetFlix. I was hopeless and accomplished little, but that was then, and this is now. Now I can sit for hours and focus on the task. With hardly any effort I can clear away the cobwebs and center my mind on a goal, then work tirelessly till its accomplished.
It may not sound spectacular, but for me, my life was changed. I’d become immersed in my work and with that immersion came increased creativity, better work and overall I felt more satisfied with life. As I worked, I’d enter a meditative, transforming state-of-mind. Stress would decrease, blood pressure lowered and I was quite literally, given a new lease on life.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am on a daily regimen of Adderin, an all natural brain supplement. It is not required to see improvment, but it will aid the process, at least it has for me.
Focus is something a lot of people struggle with, which is why I wanted to share a few secrets. There isn’t just one path to focus; it’s much more a process. I’m going to share what’s worked for me; hopefully, you’ll find some of these tips useful.
- Close your browser and email program, in this step we want to eliminate distractions. If you’re working inside a browser, close any unnecessary tabs or windows.
- Turn off any notifications that may interrupt your concentration. You don’t want a sound playing, or voice indicating you’ve got new tweets or email. That’s going against the flow and there is no sense making the task more difficult.
- If possible, turn off the Internet, shut down your router or go somewhere the net (or Wi-Fi) doesn’t reach.
- Close any programs not needed for this task.
- Have an important task in mind. Not a simple one like, “check email,” an important one like, “read the white paper”, “write the chapter for the novel,” etc.
- Clear your desk. We’re not speaking of spring cleaning, just getting rid of the clutter. If it’s too difficult, put it all in a box to sort later.
- If you’re in a noisy environment, wear headphones and play soothing music. My favorite is listening to a thunderstorm.
- Don’t get bogged down with the latest software, use what you need to use, save the bells and whistles for another time.
Once you created your environment, based on the steps mentioned above, set your mind to this one single task. Don’t Alt. tab to another, stick with this one thing before moving to the next.
Finding that difficult? Read on…
Increasing Your Ability to Focus
If you feel the calling to switch from one thing to another, don’t lose heart, that 21st-century tech that’s trained your brain. We’re taught to move fast and jump from one task to another, so you’re in good company. When we check Facebook or Twitter or a blog update, we’re rewarded with a nugget of stimulation, a shiny object (hey, someone sent me an instant message, wow). That’s new and interesting and it does, or should offer positive feedback. That’s a tough cycle to break when you’re only doing a single task.
What we’re going to do is set-up a positive feedback cycle that rewards us for our focus. Sound cool? It is, here’s how to implement.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu
Focus for one minute only. Clear away everything and FOCUS intently on the task for one minute. Pick your most important task and focus on it without switching screens. Even this one minute may seem difficult at first, but as you focus it becomes easier and easier.
When this is accomplished…
The reward should be in keeping with the task, i.e., check email or Facebook (or you chose social media platform) for 30 seconds. Better yet, get up out of your chair and stretch, maybe take a brief walk, drink some water, massage your neck, enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Simply repeat the process for an hour or so and your focus will have increased, not to mention your task will be pushed forward. You’ve setup a positive reinforcement feedback, one you can build on by increasing your focus time in small increments.
Tomorrow aims for two minutes of focus, with one-minute breaks. Continue taking baby steps and increasing your focus time, I’m sure you see the pattern, simply a little bit more each day.
Day one and two we’ve covered, the information below begins on day three.
3 minutes of focus, one minute of free time (done two or three times per day)
4 minutes of focus, one minute of free time (done two or three times per day)
5 minutes of focus, one minute of free time (done two or three times per day)
Increase your time daily till you get to ten minutes.
10 minutes of focus, TWO minutes of free time (done two or three times per day)
Increase your time daily till you get to twenty minutes.
20 minutes of focus, THREE minutes of free time (done two or three times per day)
Increase your time daily till you get to thirty minutes. At thirty minutes you’ve earned a 5-minute break. Once you’ve successfully reached 30 minutes, you can remain at this level or increase at your own rate.
When you set-up this positive cycle you’ll effectively reverse the years of mental training given us by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and countless other platforms. You’ll find you’re getting more done and it will seem effortless, in fact, once you’ve done it awhile, almost meditative.
I do recommend checking out Adderin, it helps the overall process. Again, you can do it without the supplement, but it’s so much easier with, I’m not sure why you’d want to.