Your ability to focus determines the extent to which you will be successful. And I want you to be successful in everything you do!
Focus is often downplayed in success literature. They talk about drive and ambition or clear goals, or a well-defined mission.
Those are all important. However, without focus, you won’t get anything actually done.
What Is Focus
Focus is a skill that allows you to start a task without procrastinating, and then maintain your attention and effort on the task until it is completed.
This skill also allows you to avoid distractions that naturally pop up along the way to impede your progress.
A wandering mind leave you less effective in your work and your productivity suffers. You also compromise the quality of your work.
Why do we suffer from a lack of focus?
Our brains are curious things.
Do we remember to buy more batteries for our torches when we’re in the store? No. We always remember when we pick up the torch because the power went out.
Often we suffer from lack of focus because our brain decides to remind us of a lot of other things we may need to think about, but not at that point in time.
We also lose focus if we’re honestly not interested in what we’re doing. Our brains drift off to more pleasant ideas like planning that holiday.
And sometimes our brains start thinking about EVERYTHING we need to do so we’re left unable to decide what’s most important.
What are the types of focus
There are three main types of focus that you will want to develop to ignite your dreams.
The first is inner focus. That is simply our ability to block out distractions and stay in the present moment. When we master this, we’ll be able to stay focused on our goals and manage our schedule.
The next type is outer focus. That is our focus on our environment. When we’ve mastered outer focus, we’ll be able to make adjustments to our surroundings as circumstances change.
Finally, there is focusing on others. This type of focus is important for building relationships both professionally and personally. It’s vital to stay in the moment and respond to what is in front of us rather than retreating into our own heads and coming up with stories.
How to Develop Focus
Successful people have some simple habits that you can incorporate into your life.
First, they have a clear vision of what they want and where they’re going. You can create one with words or pictures that is detailed and meaningful to you
Next, they know how to prioritize what comes up. If you’re in the middle of something, and a coworker wants to chat, offer to catch up with them when you’ve finished your task. Then you can better appreciate your time chatting with them since your brain won’t be worrying about the task.
Learning to say no to distractions is one of the most important things you can learn. Often we don’t have the courage to say no when we should. So if this is tough for you, practice saying no to small things, and then build up your “no” muscle.
Only do one task at a time so you can give it your best work.
Divide up goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. This helps you avoid overwhelm, and you get the joy of checking it off of your list.
Rewards yourself for a job well done, and remember to take regular breaks to let your brain recharge.
Learn from mistakes rather than beating yourself up over it.
Rise above your feelings of fatigue, annoyance, laziness, and self-pity. We all suffer from this on occasion, don’t we? Accept the feeling and then move beyond it. Instead try to think how happy you’ll be when the task is done.
Learn to love what you do. If you have a pet, you get a lot of love out of it, right? But there’s always the not so fun tasks like cleaning up after them. But we don’t mind because we’re so focused on our love for our pet. Try and find that kind of love for your task at hand.
Strategies to Help You Focus
The first strategy is to learn how to push past procrastination. So you need to have a clear cut goal that you’re going to work towards for a set amount of time.
Then identify to yourself why it must be done. Often our brains will start to think about other things that need to be done. And they probably do. But you want to be able to tell your brain WHY this particular task must be done right now.
Next, set a time when the task needs to be completed.
Often, we will take the amount of time given. So try to find a stretch goal or play “beat the clock” and try to get it done before your timer runs out.
Also I always keep a pad of paper nearby. If I’m working and something comes into my mind, I write it down, and then get straight back to work.
Now let’s look at some common problems that pop up when we’re focusing.
Escape the “Busy Trap”
The busy trap happens when you’re trying to work on too many tasks at once so you look and feel busy, but at the end of the day, you haven’t accomplished anything.
So instead of feeling and looking busy, be focused and get things done.
If you’ve been doing nothing but push push push for a long time, you’re probably burnt out on everything.
You need to take a break and work with a friend or someone you trust to identify the source of your burnout.
Sometimes we don’t know how to say No, or there’s someone in the office that takes away all the joy.
It’s important to try to shift your life back to more balance with personal and restorative time.
Get released from overwhelm
When you’re overwhelmed, you’re often looking at all of your tasks with no sense of their priorities or when they’re due.
So take a step back and plan.
Do you have to complete some tasks before you can start on others?
Is someone waiting on you to finish one tasks? If so, that may be a higher priority.
It’s also important that you pay attention to the time. Set a timer for 20 minutes and work on your most important task and see how far you can get with it.
Take a quick break, and set the timer again. Keep doing this until that one task is complete.
That will help reduce your stress and feeling of overwhelm.
Improve your habits
Many times, our brains aren’t working as well as they should because we’re not eating well, sleeping well, and we’re not getting any exercise.
So reduce your stress by taking care of yourself.
Get organized, and then set up processes to stay organized.
Keep your environment positive and interesting. Often people fill their heads with trash television or magazines. Learn to turn off the news.
Watch and read things that inspire and educate you. Pick up a hobby that you can get lost in for a time.
Ready for some simple tips? Pick one to work on until you’ve mastered it, and then add in another good habit.
Train your brain
I mentioned keeping a notepad to write down distracting thoughts. This helps train your brain that you will take care of things.
Another good thing to write down are any worries or concerns that pop up. Often you’re not really worried, but your brain just wants to check in.
If you are worried, spend some time sorting the important from the not important. Decide if there really is anything you can do about it.
Then journal and meditate to release that which you have no control over, or that which you no longer want to carry around with you.
Plan it all out
Having a plan helps you identify next steps and any material you may need that you don’t currently have.
It also helps you learn how to gauge your time estimates better. You can then make better schedules so you’re not feeling over-scheduled and overwhelmed in both your personal and professional life.
One thing at a time
One thing at a time
I said it earlier and it bears repeating. Multitasking does not work. We’re more error prone, and we actually get things done faster when we just focus on one thing at a time.
It also allows you to truly enjoy what you’re doing, and that lovely feeling of satisfaction when you complete the task.
My Final Thoughts
When you are focused, you take control of the things you’re doing. This helps you feel more on top of your life, and you’re able to truly ignite your dreams because you’re achieving things every single day.
When you’re gaining momentum, you’re proud of yourself, and that positive energy spills into every part of your life.
You become better at solving problems because you’re not thinking of them as problems to deal with but rather opportunities to solve.
Another benefit is you become more decisive. You know what you want and where you’re going. It’s easy to say yes to what will get you there and no to what’s holding you back or distracting you.
And isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Feeling satisfied and happy with ourselves and our lives?