Focus is a necessary ingredient for success in any project, when learning a skill, or starting a business. Focus is defined as distraction-free concentration, while giving sole attention to the activity at hand.
To do this you need to put aside every other thing you could be doing at that time and stay committed to the goal.
The benefit of deep focus is that more quality work can get done in less time. It can be done calmly and with less need to work more hours. You can use your evenings, weekends and time off to do the things you enjoy.
Why you can’t focus
You really can focus when you need to. When you’re under a strict deadline, you do get it done.
The problem is that we have so many things we want to accomplish and that compete for our time we don’t give undivided attention to the work we need to do. Instead, we try to split our time doing other things, or we get bored with what we’re doing and look to take a break by engaging in something else.
This is a problem I have, staying on a task if I am more interested in something else. I find myself doing work for 15 minutes and then switching to the flashing light that attracts me. I have to fight the urge to get off topic.
Obviously, we can do two things at the same time, like walk and talk on the phone, or cook a meal and listen to music.
What we mean by multitasking is to be concentrating on two things simultaneously. We often believe that when we do two things we are being productive, but it’s not true. Studies have shown that our brains can only give attention to one thing and when we switch back and forth we need to re-establish focus on that task again. This actually wastes time because it takes time to re-establish what we were doing.
How to increase your focus
In order to increase develop your focus, first decide on the most important task you need to complete. You can list all the goals you want to give attention to. But only focus on the one you decide is the most important, stay with that and eliminate all distractions. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try at some point focus will start to disappear.
Here are three things that can motivate you back when you find you’re losing attention.
- Give yourself feedback and track the progress you’re making
- Pay attention to the actions that will yield results
- Keep a tally of how much time you are spending on the important project
Give yourself feedback and track the progress you’re making
We all like to know when things are improving. It gives us the motivation to continue.So whether you’re project is writing a book or cleaning and de-cluttering your office, stop to evaluate where you are, how far you’ve come and if you are really making progress.Seeing results often inspires you to do more.
Pay attention to the actions that will yield results
Rather than focusing on the results you want, writing a book or having a uncluttered office, concentrate on the steps that will get you there. Don’t look at this as an event, one and done. View it as a daily habit, a repeatable process that will build long-term results.
So instead of looking to complete the book, look to the habit of reading, researching, and writing daily. The book will get finished and the habit will be there to write other books. Instead of waiting until your office is in chaos, get into the daily habit of dealing with the mail, the papers, and clutter. Your office will always be a clean and productive place to work.
Keep a tally of how much time you are spending on the important project
Maintain a log of the actual time spent on your goal and you will see how long you focus before being distracted. With an honest evaluation you will see how often you stray into something else.
For instance, maybe you only focused for 12 minutes before you checked the weather, made a phone call, read a post, or some other diversion. When you total up all the time that pertains to your project for the day you see only 75 minutes. Not great for reaching your goal. Just by keeping the log, you’ll be mindful every time you lose focus and will be aware of each pause you take and what is taking your attention.
How to stay focused when you’re bored and uninspired
It happens to all of us, you may really want to accomplish something but lose motivation when you don’t see results. You feel like you’re working for nothing and you’re bored .
Successful athletes, artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs experience the same emotions. The difference is they don’t give up, they work through the monotony and do the work everyday.
To gain your own success try the three steps above, tracking your progress, going through the steps and form the habits that will create the outcome you seek, and keep a log of how much time you are putting into the work.
Set yourself up for success
Here are a few ideas to help concentrate on what matters.
1-Schedule your hardest project for the times you have the energy to do your best work. For you it may be first thing in the morning or late at night.
2-Eliminate all distractions so you can focus on the important task. That may be postponing phone calls, reading emails, scheduling meetings, etc. They are best saved for when the important project is done for the day.
3-Have everything you need for the project at hand. If you’re writing a book, start with a clean desk and have all the reference and research materials, and whatever your using to write available. If you’re cleaning and organizing your office, have file folders, tabs, dividers, paper clips, and cleaning supplies all laid out. When everything’s there and ready to go there is less chance for distractions, and focus will be simple.
Commit to taking action
The biggest obstacle to reaching any goal is to do nothing. Whether your objective is being an entrepreneur or some other project, put all your attention on what needs to be done. You can reach your goal when you focus your time, attention, and efforts on what you desire.
To learn more on this topic, read James Clear, Scott Young and the book Deep Work by Cal Newport.
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