Put on some noise-cancelling headphones and get a cup of joe because this will only be the surface of what we’re diving into today.
Focus is hard to define fully, it has many meanings, but what I’m referring to here is the act of being able to concentrate or give your direct attention to an activity you perform. In other words, focus is having the ability to only say Yes to one activity and No to all the other activities. Focus doesn’t require you to drop all the items you said no to, but rather in the present moment to put these items on hold until the item you said Yes to is completed.
If you ask anyone who you believe is productive, they will tell you that they simply just focus on one thing at a time. This seems almost too good to be true right? Let’s dig in a bit deeper on how you can focus better.
There are so many ways to get distracted in this modern age. Whether it’s your smart phone lighting up to yet another notification you probably don’t care about, or if you are finding a lack of interest in the moment. Think of the last time you had an important thing you needed to get done and it had a deadline that stressed the living daylight out of you. You eventually got to the point where the deadline made the decision for you. You either acted to get it done, or faced the consequences.
Or you may have got a text from a friend asking you to hang out and instead of finishing what you were doing, you are already out the door. The thing is, distractions happen and we need a system to prevent them.
When is the last time you felt truly productive when multitasking? Say you were doing two significant things at once. Did you notice quality suffering in one or the other? It’s not a new concept by any means as we do it all the time. You answer a text message when you’re in a meeting or you have a quick call with your significant other while reading emails after lunch.
The thing is, you can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time. And every time that you make a context switch, it is costly because you now have to play catch-up. For example you might be working on your side project while watching Netflix in the background. Your attention drifts from the computer to your television because this is the best part of the show you’re watching and you can’t miss it. Next, your attention shifts back to your computer and you are wondering what you were even working on. It takes you a few minutes to remember where you had last left off.
With all the things you can possibly do, how do you find focus? How do you specifically know what thing to focus on? How do you know that thing is the thing you should put all of your energy into doing?
Here’s a great exercise that you can use to find your true focus today:
Finding a way to make more time for yourself is the first step. You can learn how Saying No Will Make Time for you. Whether you’re just beginning or are trying to re-gain your focus, saying No will free up your schedule.
The second step is making sure you are measuring your output. A great way to do this is by making sure you Don’t Break The Chain by logging your habits on a daily basis.
Finally, to maintain a healthy amount of distractions in your daily life, you can Balance Your Digital Well-Being by being intentional with your digital devices and decluttering your digital footprint.