How to stay focused
November 8, 2017 Share
#1 - Eliminate DistractionsThe first step to getting focused is to reduce or eliminate distractions. If you imagine your focus as bucketful of water, every distraction is a little hole in your bucket. The more distractions you have, the more holes you have, the more water is going to leak out, and eventually your bucket is going to be empty. It is the same way with your focus. If you're concentrated on your work, but your phone is beeping, somebody's knocking on your door, people are talking, there's all this noise around you, it makes it much harder to focus. It makes it much harder to concentrate, because every single time, you're faced with a decision: do you pay attention to your phone vibrating, or do you stay focused on the task at hand? So the first step to getting focused is to eliminate distractions. That's why libraries are so quiet. That's why if you sit in a meditation room, you'll notice how unbelievably quiet it is. So make your own library. Reduce or eliminate as many distractions as you can. Put your phone on vibrate and put it in a different room. Close the door to your room or to your office. Put a "Do not disturb" sign that's going to tell people, "Listen, I'm focused. I don't want to be disturbed." Eliminate as many visual or auditory distractions around you as possible. If you're on your computer, you're writing, but there are all these to-do lists around you, or notes, it's easy to get distracted. So minimize or eliminate as many distractions as you can. That's the first way to get focused. Create your own library, create your own meditation room; something that allows you to get into the Zen mode, that allows you to focus, allows you to stay concentrated on the task at hand. Every single time you face a distraction, we know from science it can take you up to 21 minutes to regain your focus. Don't waste your time. Eliminate or at least reduce distractions as much as possible.
#2 - Your Focus Is Like A Muscle - Train ItThe ability to concentrate is like a muscle. The more you exercise, the more you go to the gym, the better developed your muscles are going to be. It's the same way with your focus. If you're somebody who's constantly distracted, you're used to multitasking, 40 minutes of focus time might be too much for you. So start with 5. Get comfortable with 5 minutes of paying attention to only one task. Then make it 10, make it 15, make it 20. Slowly build your way up to about 40 to 50 minutes of focus time. Train your focus. If you're used to concentrating for 5 minutes, and now you're going to do it for 45, you're setting yourself up for failure, because you're not used to it. Your habit is to do 5 minutes or 10 minutes, and now you're trying to jump almost tenfold. Train your focus the same way you're going to train your muscles. You don't go to the gym, go on the bench press and start benching hundreds of pounds. You start slowly, you allow your muscles to develop, and you build your way up. Same way with your focus and your concentration. Train it. Start slow; gradually build your way up.
#3 - Do It First Thing In The MorningLike everything else, like your energy, like your willpower, your focus is the highest in the morning. Put whatever focus work you have as close to the morning as possible, when you have the most energy, when you have the most vitality. If you go to the office and you start checking your email, you start talking to people, being on the phone, and only then you get into your focus time, it's going to be that much harder.
#4 - Have A PlanAlways have a plan! What happens if you don't have a one? You go to the office, you sit down, and you're like, "Wait, what should I do?" And then you choose one task which seems the most important one, and you start doing it. But then in the middle of it, something else pops in your mind, and you're like, "Wait, this one is more important," so now you switch your focus to something else. In the middle of that task, something else pops in your mind and you're like, "Wait, should I be doing this, or should I be doing that?" And the vicious cycle continues.
When you don't have a plan, when you don't know what you're supposed to be doing, your mind is going to keep wandering around.If you have a plan, if you know that between 8:00 and 8:30, you're supposed to do this one task, you're in a different mindset. Your mindset changes; you know you're supposed to be doing this one thing. So then you don't need to be faced with the choice should you be doing this, should you be doing this, are you doing the right thing? You've made a plan. You know that between this and this period, you're supposed to be doing this one task. It makes it much easier to stay focused. Always have a plan. Start your day with writing down what you need to do, when do you need to do it, what do you need to achieve. When you have a plan, when you have a schedule, it is that much easier to focus and to stay focused.