The ability to focus is crucial to your success…and an easily forgotten art form. Because we may not all have ADD or ADHD, but we are all living in a world so full of distractions and temptations that can keep us from doing what we need to do.
Those funny people on Twitter, those TV shows, and those drinks you can have with friends, they can give even the most disciplined among us the attention spam of overexcited Labradoodle set loose in the park.
Focus, my darling reader, does not come easy. Not to me. But I need it both professionally AND personally, and that’s why I try to train my focus.
And I have taught myself how to get my focus back when I have lost it. Probably somewhere on Tumblr. Damn you, Tumblr.
How to get your focus back according to me, after the jump.
SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN. NOW. When you feel completely scatter-brained, all over the place, unfocused? You can’t work like this. So let’s start the reboot, and first shut down everything.
You need to disconnect before you can reconnect with the things and tasks you need to.
So. Turn off your phone. Shut your laptop. Turn the music off. Snap at your roommates they need to shut their pieholes. Leave the crowded office. Sit somewhere quiet. Total disconnection.
TAKE FIVE* Now. When you’re all disconnected from everything, set a timer for five minutes and use those to relax and regroup.
Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath. Observe what is going on in your head, but don’t latch onto any of it. Let the thoughts happen.
This helps your brain get back from the Overstimulated Setting to the original Factory How A Brain Is Supposed To Work Settings. These settings are more relaxed, quiet and resetting your brain tot those default settings makes it easier to get your focus back.
5 minutes of nothing.
Doctor’s Hipster’s orders.
TAKE NINETY. (Alternate title: TAKE 5K, TAKE 10K, TAKE A SWIM, TAKE A SHOWER, TAKE A WALK IN NATURE WITH AN OLD PERSON)
For me, a Bikram yoga class is a 100% guarantee I will have crystal clear focus afterwards. For a good long while too.
So if I need to get my focus back, I need to get my deep-fried distracted brain into the hot room. Even if that means losing ninety minutes of my day (travel and shower time excluded), I know it will pay off. So I try to do it.
For you, it might be something else that helps you refocus. A run, a swim, a shower, a good meal, a good orgasm. Whatever works, you know that there are activities that give you clarity and focus.
Build them into your day when you keep getting distracted. Even when you’re busy.
HYDRATE. Drink a glass of water. Sounds dumb, but a well hydrated brain and body work tons better.
TOP PRIORITY ASSESSMENT. Ask yourself the following question: What do you need to focus on right now?
Identify your primary point of focus for this moment. What is the most pressing, the most determining thing you need to do right now?
Is your priority. Everything else is irrelevant to you right now. Everything else falls away, everything else is background noise. Burn into your brain that you only need to keep our eyes on this one thing right now. That’s all. Everything else can wait.
POMODORO. Yes, here it is again.
Once I regained my focus, the one way I manage to keep it is by being extremely strict with myself through the Pomodoro technique.
I set it for a fixed amount of time that I have to stay on task, non-negotiable. Then I get a 5-minute break for coffee or Tumblr or Twitter or whatever. When the 5 are up, on I go. Until I’m done. You know the drill, but for my original article on it click here.
Focus can be trained.
The more you allow yourself to flutter from impulse to impulse, not ever making yourself do something with your undivided attention, getting sidetracked all the time, the worse your concentration and your attention span will get.
When you allow your mental strength to wane and wane, eventually you won’t even be able to your attention on something for more than 30 seconds. That makes for a lot of frustration and your work taking TONS longer than it needs to.
My advice to you? Monitor that shit. Train that attention span like it’s your sixpack and summer is coming.
Your brain and your life will flourish under it.
Focus is valuable. Attain it, train it, keep it, use it — Okay, I gotta stop before this turns into a Daft Punk song. Later dudes.
*More if you’re a meditationy person.
Funny, because I just landed at this article while flitting around windows, ignoring the work I need to be doing. Message is clear: get my shit together and power through. I love your Pomodoro timer, but since I have no such clever thing, I like using the Strict Workflow Chrome extension when I need a lockdown on all my “distraction” sites. Handy because it lets you build your own custom list and blocks them when the 25-min timer’s running.
Thanks for the tips, getting back to work now.
Werkt voor mij ook het best, amen to that girl!