In the modern day of limitless feeds of social media, videos, and streams, we are challenged to rediscover our focus within our work. Every day is a fresh opportunity to do exactly what you want, and how you want it. However there’s something continuously distracting us from ever finding that focus.
Whether it’s reaching for your phone to scroll through Instagram in the mornings, or whether it’s staying up late watching your favorite Twitch streamer, we are clogging our minds with content that may not be overall beneficial to our life’s ambitions.
We have diverted our attention from single tasks to multi tasking, and it’s no surprise that we are less effective in the impact driving towards our life goals. Why would we care about getting closer to our goals when we get daily doses of instant gratification by logging on Facebook or getting a few likes on your latest Twitter post?
Programming, writing, photography, singing, and many more actions requires our undivided attention. Check your phone 5 minutes into any of these actions, and you’re back to where you began instead of where you left off. It’s said that most people focus for roughly an hour at a time and take roughly a 15 minute break to get their mind off what they were doing. This can be extremely effective to reach the next level of mastery to become extremely valuable.
Think of the last couple years of your life. How much did you say you would accomplish vs. what you actually accomplished? Are you satisfied with what you were able to accomplish? What if you instead implemented a framework of focus in your life to rid the limitless distractions in your daily life?
Focus is slowly becoming the new IQ for most. It’s the one skill that separates good from great.
In Chris Bailey’s book “Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction”, he talks about two main concepts of focus:
- Hyperfocus – The ability to focus on one thing. (60-90 minutes)
- Scatterfocus – The ability to focus on nothing. (At least 15 minutes)
Individuals who are able to combine both hyperfocus and scatterfocus are seen by others as productivity machines. They are the type of people who you might ask
- “You did that all by yourself?”
- “How is that even possible?”
- “How did you manage to do that?”
In a world where everyone is unique and has different daily routines, the best we can do is experiment with various tactics to find what works best for you.
- Write down three to five tasks that you believe are the right things to work on each day. It’s important that they are written before starting the day.
- Practice awareness of what you’re thinking about to manage your attention. You want to be aware whether or not you’re in autopilot mode or hyperfocus mode.
- Avoid multitasking. If your attention dwindles, take a break or do something mindless for a little. This is also known as scatterfocus. (Read a book, take a walk, hit the gym).
- Modify your environment to limit distractions (Eliminate phone, block websites, noise-cancelling headphones, etc).
- Make a list of each thing that distracts you while in a hyperfocus mode. (Checking facebook, instant message, etc).
- Get a full night’s rest. Your sleep habits are extremely important to your focus (8 hours typically).
In the end, focus is a skill that you can work on to improve. Focus can be boring and lack stimuli, but with enough discipline, we can get a deep sense of satisfaction from what we produce with our daily focus.