8 Steps To Drastically Improve Focus
Alright I confess…
I wasn’t always so productive. I’ve always been a little ADD, struggling to concentrate on anything for more than 10 minutes. I sometimes thought I had the brain of a door mouse.
I’d start reading one thing, swiftly switch tabs to something else and zone out for hours at a time. You’ll know you do this when you can’t remember exactly what you did yesterday or worse; today.
With that said, I’ve improved. It’s safe to say I’m now able to focus on anything or nothing like a buddhist monk for hours or even days at a time.
I have to tell you; focus is the single most important skill I’ve ever mastered. It’s drastically improved my ability to get things done and lead to a much happier lifestyle. I know a LOT of people who struggle with focus. It’s perfectly normal.
A few years ago I couldn’t even sit down to write half a blog post without checking Gmail twice, Facebook three times and losing at least 20 minutes to dreaded Skype. Using the steps below I can now put aside everything, completely zone out and focus my energy into one task.
That’s why focus is so important. Your focus of energy will determine everything in life, from business to relationships to lifestyle. When you achieve true focus, everything else becomes irrelevant and you immerse yourself in a task. You get into a trance and you only stop when you’ve complete what you set out to do.
Here are 11 steps to “drastically” improve focus:
1. Realize You Are Unproductive
Most people go about their entire lives not being in the moment, not able to focus on a task for longer than 10 minutes. Just being very unproductive. So the first step is to identify your problem.
Realize that you’re bad at focusing on a task, most of us are. We’ve been brought up in a world of cell phones, computers, instant notifications and messages. The first step is to realize you need to improve your focus. Once you realize you can really concentrate on focus.
This is an obvious step. You need a clean, clear work environment. You absolutely must have an office type chair suitable for long durations of computer work.
A normal chair will wreak havoc on your back.
I’m not the cleanest person in the world (not in the hygienic sense), I just won’t immediately clear up after eating a meal or put something away straight after using it.
However, I strongly believe having a clean and simple work environment is crucial. A laptop/computer, a keyboard, a pen/pad, a whiteboard, headset and an office chair is all you need. Make sure your work zone is crap-free. No wrappers, no boxes, no loose scraps of paper.
Nothing that will distract you from what your goal: focusing on a task.
3. Silence Or Music
Having a TV on in the background is definitely the best way to kill your productivity. Or having friends or family members talking; not good at all. You should have either silence or music.
If you can’t opt for silence like a lot of family men and women; put on a pair of headphones and play some calming music.
4. Close Everything Else
Just close everything, seriously. You don’t really need those 30 tabs you have open. I was always guilty of having at least 30 tabs open in 4 separate windows. Every time I went through them to close the ones I thought I didn’t need; I’d only delete one or two or none at all.
A few days or weeks later the computer would reboot itself for critical updates, I’d start a new browser session and I’d begin building a new set of tabs. The 30+ tabs I’d been holding onto like a hawk were never missed. I could have closed them the whole time.
Close everything you don’t need. That includes browsers, word documents, any software or apps.
5. Turn Off The Internet
This is a drastic measure for drastic times. If you are really struggling to concentrate on your task, just turn off the Internet. There’s nothing more efficient for boosting focus and productivity than turning off the Internet. It leaves you no choice but to focus on your task.
Skype, Facebook, Gmail, need I say more?
I still leave Skype on a lot of the time, and it’s always a big mistake. These networks generally instantly notify you when you get a message, receive an email or when someone likes your status. Make sure you turn off all notifications on any network, device or messenger.
7. Task List And Schedule
Another simple productivity boosting tool. Every day write a task list for the following day. Having a list of tasks allows you to focus on each individual task without thinking about what to do next. Simple concept, powerful tool.
8. Baby Steps
Most importantly, take baby steps. The best way to accomplish anything in life isn’t to jump at it with all you’ve got; but to take little baby steps. Focus on small tasks without getting distracted. Even 5 minutes at a time, gradually increase the amount of time you focus on a task.
But no more than 90 minutes. Your brain can’t focus on any task properly for longer than 90 minutes. Focus for 90 minutes, then take a break.
9. Reward Yourself
The other best way to get things done is to reward yourself. If you focus and complete a task in 60 minutes, reward yourself with a 20 minute reading or exercise break. Whatever you like to do.
Meditation is great for improving focus. When you start meditating, you focus on nothing. You try your hardest to resist distractions and exploring thoughts. It’s extremely difficult for many people to sit and meditate for long periods of time. There are countless benefits to meditation, boosting focus and clarity of mind are two of them.
11. Breaks And Exercise
Can you imagine if there were no breaks in corporate America or even anywhere in the world? If all employees started work at 9 and were physically forced to work without stopping until 5pm. It would be a catastrophe, everyone would be insanely unproductive, tired and unfocused.
Take a break every 90 minutes. Whenever I’m with family, they never really believe I work much or get anything done during the day. That’s only because I stop what I’m doing for 10-30 minutes after 90 minutes of highly focused work.
If you add up the numbers (which I’m not going to do), I take 6+ breaks during normal work hours. You can do whatever you personally want to during a break, but nothing distracting like television or Facebook. Exercise, a quick walk, or a snack works well.
That’s it, try the above steps and improve your ability to focus! You can start by closing this article along with all the others you’ve been keeping open.
P.S. Leave me your thoughts, comments and questions below. Also opt-in to the email list on the right for more focus boosting tips, tricks and secrets.