Goal

This week, I want to investigate the best techniques which will help you develop your focus.

Why Is It Difficult To Remain Focused?

difficult focus

Remaining focused on your tasks is challenging.

“Ignore the noise, focus on your work.”

Everyone finds it difficult to focus. Social media, computer screens, games, conversation, sunny days, and much more draw our attention. However, when you can’t concentrate on your tasks, your work goes undone. All individuals are unsettled by goals remaining unfulfilled and responsibilities unaddressed. Thus, when we lack focus, we fail to succeed, and when we fail to succeed, we become anxious and depressed.

A lack of focus shows a lack of control over ourselves. If you can’t sit still for 30 minutes and study, then what else can’t you focus on? Your long-term goals? Your business idea? Your relationships? When we can’t focus on one area of life, no matter how small, we will begin to question your ability to concentrate in all areas of life.

Why Do I Struggle With Focus?

maintain focus

Focus is hard but not impossible to maintain.

Focus is hard to come by. There are plenty of distractions to keep you from persisting onward. Here are a few reasons why I struggle with concentration:

  • I lack the energy needed to focus. Lacking sleep, proper nutrition, and consistent exercise diminishes my ability to zero in and get things done.  If my physical body is not engaged and recharged, then my mind will stagger. Additionally, if I’m overworked, I may lose concentration, signifying the need for a break or reward.
  • My current project is not interesting. When I work on projects I have zero interest in, I become distracted. Unwanted projects are ignored in favor of games, conversation, and other responsibilities. Additionally, my lack of motivation ties into feeling powerless or angry. Usually, if I’m doing something I don’t want to do, I have to do it by necessity, such as paying taxes or correcting a work project. I become angry at the inconvenience of having to do the assignment. Thus, I self-sabotage and procrastinate on the assignment instead of completing it.
  • We may think we have more time than we do. If I believe I have more time than I do, it’s easy to lose focus and do other things.
  • We may have unresolved situations sitting heavy on our mind. More significant life problems, such as a family illness, have prevented me from focusing.

The Nine Ways To Master Focus And Increase Concentration

master focus

To master focus, you must master yourself.

Despite the difficulties above, I understand the need to develop better attentiveness. When I focus, I accomplish my tasks and enjoy my productivity.

Being able to concentrate will enable individuals to consistently fulfill their goals. Achieving your goals allows you to move forward in your life. Additionally, you will feel more accomplished, which will decrease your anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.

Therefore, I offer a few techniques I use to keep my focus as sharp as possible.

1. Prepare your mind – Think About your success, the benefits of finishing your task, and the joys of greatness

victory

Think about the victory, not the grind.

When beginning any task, you need to imagine what the end goal is. Everything you do should have a “why” behind it. Developing this “why” will keep you going as you push through the grind.

For example, I hate going to the gym. However, my “why” is to be healthier, get into shape, and look good. Whenever I start a rep, I think about how skinny I was before I went to the gym. Then I think about how much stronger I’ll be if I keep exercising. This vision helps me push through the pain.

Don’t be afraid to be silly. Whenever I have to do a governmental task, such as pay taxes or go to the DMV, I imagine Saturn will high-five me afterward. It’s a silly vision. However, I’m no longer angry or bothered at my time being wasted by bureaucratic nonsense.

Develop your “why” when you’re doing a task. Ask questions such as “what will I gain if I do this?” “who will be helped if I do this?” “will future me appreciate my efforts here today?” and so on.

2. Finish and Steamroll Unwanted Tasks First

finish tasks

Don’t want to do a task? Then get it out of the way.

Finish unwanted tasks as quickly as possible. Start hitting the things you don’t want to do immediately, so you can breeze through the rest of the day.

Never put off unwanted tasks. If need to, take them bit by bit. For example, if you have to clean the bathroom, start with one tile, then the next, then the next, then the toilet, then bath, and so on.  Finishing what you don’t want to do will free your mind. You’ll feel lighter as well as stronger for having overcome something you didn’t want to do.

Additionally, take stock of the task and how long you have to do it. If you have a project which is due in a week, then work on it for an hour each day. Slowly, but surely, you’ll get through the project without having to do it all on one day.

Therefore, start your day with whatever you don’t want to do first, so you can breathe easier.

3. Time yourself and focus on right now

focus time

Time is your ally and friend.

“What you focus on grows.” – Esther Hicks

Keep track of how long you spend on a task. When we start an assignment, we lose focus because we under or overestimate the time we’ve invested. If we can clearly see how long we’ve spent on an individual task, we will concentrate better.

There are many ways to track your assignments. Lately, I’ve been setting tasks on a calendar to help me regulate my time. If I start a project at 4:00 pm, I know I have to wrap up the assignment by 5:00 pm. If it’s 4:24 pm and I haven’t started on my project, then I realize I’ve wasted 24 minutes I’ll never get back.

You can also keep a stopwatch or a timer. Furthermore, keeping track of your play time will make you more aware of what you’re doing with that time. Instead of guessing how long you’ve been watching Netflix, you can look down at your stopwatch as see how long you’ve been relaxing. Keeping time in this way will make you more honest and aware of how your day goes.

4. Set blocks on your computer and phone to help focus your mind

distraction

Don’t let your technology distract you from your goals.

It’s easy to allow ourselves to look at our phones or computers. Therefore, you’ll want to prevent aimless wandering in the digital world. For example, I have blocks on my phone for websites I have a habit of going to. However, these websites don’t improve me as an individual and only serve my emotional highs. They teach me nothing, and I only go to these sites to “feel something.” I’ve blocked them on my phone, and they no longer make me emotionally drained or mentally immature.

I have the same system on my computer. I have blocks for a variety of sites which never serve my long-term goals. Since I’m not wasting hours on social media or pointless websites, I can turn my time toward dominating the day. At the end of the day, with my goals accomplished, I can enjoy my play time without anxiety or shame.

Get Rid of Everything Which Doesn’t Serve Your Greatness

shed bad habits

Shed the bad habits which do not serve your aims.

Distractions from the computer break your attentiveness and provide very few benefits. If you waste time on your devices, you won’t feel recharged – you’ll feel slow and sluggish as well as disappointed in your lack of focus. Therefore, delete your social media apps and place blocks on any sites which give you an emotional high. Place your business and study sites and apps front and center, so you can’t escape them.

The more fortitude you have against little time wasters, the more focus you’ll develop, and the more time you’ll earn back.

5. Give yourself small rewards for accomplishing your tasks

small victories

Small victories matter.

Instead of losing yourself in the occasional distraction, identify something you want, and set this as an object of your affection. For example, if you like listening to music, then turn off the tunes and reward yourself with a song after you reach a certain threshold. You’ll feel more accomplished as you complete your smaller goals and enjoy a new prize.

Rewarding or bribing yourself is an excellent way to stay motivated. A reward-based system will strengthen your persistence and build your willpower in other areas of your life. Additionally, you’ll hone your creativity as you think about what rewards to give yourself for reaching your goals.

6. Improve your concentration by not multitasking

focus one goal

Focus on one goal at a time.

Whenever I have a list of goals, I set upon them one at a time. I avoid trying to do too much at once because multi-tasking undermines my efficiency and focus. By narrowing my attention to one goal, I can throw all my weight against it.

Furthermore, I create monthly goals to help with my focus. Setting a clear monthly goal narrows my concentration and makes creating daily goals much more manageable. For example, my January monthly goal may be to finish a new web project. For January, the bulk of my time not allotted to family, work, and health go toward completing the website.

Lastly, I also set “MVPs” or daily goals which receive the bulk of my attention. For example, I may concentrate on writing content for the upcoming website. For the whole day, if I’m not handling a family, work, or health-related task, I am working on my content.

Narrow your focus and avoid multitasking, so you’ll have an easier time remaining on track.

7. Seek ways to improve your processes

improvement

Seek to improve your processes.

The quicker each activity goes, the easier it is to focus till the end. Therefore, you’ll want to streamline your processes, so you can relieve yourself of cognitive load.

For example, I have a step by step guide for writing blog posts. I don’t think about what to do next – I consult the guide. If I’m wrapping up the rough draft, then I know the next step is refining the links. Having a step-by-step guide frees me of thinking and reserves my mental energy.

Additionally, I concentrate on completing tasks, especially unwanted tasks, as quickly as possible. The longer I delay, the more time-consuming an unwanted project becomes. For example, when I go to the gym, I don’t waste time on my phone or talking to people. I complete a full workout in 45 minutes. Because I don’t want to be at the gym, I recognize the more focused I am, the faster I can leave.

Streamline everything and anything while seeking ways to complete tasks as fast and correctly as possible.

8. Check your goals and ensure you’re being realistic

focus goals

Always know what you’re aiming for.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A lack of focus may come from having unrealistic and daunting goals. I’ve tried to balance fatherhood, drawing, writing, work, coding, designing, Latin, and much more. I felt overwhelmed and had to admit my own mental limitations. I’ve reduced my goals significantly and narrowed my focus on work, family, and a few other items. Although I’m disappointed, I’m less stressed, and I can focus on accomplishing realistic goals.

If you attempt to do too much, then you will feel overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed will sap your energy, focus, and willpower. Why? Because you’ll run yourself crazy trying to do everything. Furthermore, you’ll fail to accomplish the impossible standards you’ve set. Eventually, your failures will lead to disappointment and depression.

Therefore, be as reasonable and as honest as possible. The more realistic and reasonably challenging your goals are, the more determined you’ll be to fulfill them. And the more committed you are, the more level-headed and concentrated you can be.

9. Track your actions and see yourself improve

track actions

Track your actions; never let the day get away from you.

“A jug fills drop by drop.” – Buddha

Tracking your actions as well as what you’ve completed will keep you inspired. Seeing your progress and the ways you’ve improved are crucial to helping you remain focused.

Individuals are taught to obsess over collective history. We are never taught to acknowledge our personal history. Buck the trend. Write down what you’ve done today. If you have a great memory, do your task tracking at the end of every day. If you struggle with memory (like I do), then mark quick notes at the end of each hour.

When I reflect on my past, I can see I’ve improved. I have a better job, I have more responsibilities, and I am a father. Everything has changed significantly in a few short years, and I am determined to continue the improvement.

If you keep track of your activities, habits, and ideas, you’ll be inspired by how much you have grown and improved. Stay focused by keeping a sharp eye on your growth and personal development.

Dominate Your Commitments And Stay The Course

focus pride

Build your rational pride by mastering your focus.

The more attentive you are, the easier it is to accomplish your goals. If you hunker down, develop your persistence, and strengthen your fortitude, you will achieve your goals.

Don’t lose your focus. Stay the course. Become an individual.

Actionables

  1. Do you struggle with your focus? What do you fail to concentrate on? Why do you think this is?
  2. Of the items on this list, which do your excel at? Which items do you struggle with?
  3. How would your life improve if you could focus better?
  4. Pick one item on this list and spend the next week implementing it in your life. See if the implementation improves your focus.

Suggested Readings

  1. 13 Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus by Rose Leadem
  2. Your Concentration Training Program: 11 Exercises That Will Strengthen Your Attention by  Brett and Kate McKay
  3. 8 Ways To Improve Your Focus by Stephanie Vozza
  4. A Three-Day Plan to Increase Your Focus by Joseph Cardillo Ph.D.
  5. Four Productivity Principles From The Stoics You Can Use Today by Daily Stoic

Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.

*Image credit to Unsplash.