JULY 21, 2021
What happens when you watch a movie? You focus on that,
What happens when you watch a funny video on YouTube? You focus on that.
What happens when you sit down to do some work? You don’t focus on that.
Notice the difference?
We hear so much advice about the importance of focusing on our work and doing things with total concentration. But how much advice do we hear on exactly how to FOCUS? Not a lot.
And you don’t actually need a lot of advice to learn how to improve your focus. You only need this blog post.
This post is also available in video format. If you would like to learn how to improve your focus by watching a video, click below!
What is FOCUS?
Focus doesn’t mean concentration. It means involvement.
Even a kid who doesn’t like to study maths can concentrate by forcing himself to do so.
But will that kid be able to focus on that subject and study it day after day with full focus? No.
Focus doesn’t come from forcing yourself to do something. Focus comes from being naturally involved and interested in it.
Focus is effortless.
You don’t need to forcefully concentrate on watching a movie or learn how to improve your focus for that, right? You’re entirely focused on what’s happening on the screen.
That’s what should happen when you work too, and that’s when you’ll be entirely focused on what you do.
How To Improve Your Focus?
You may think that learning how to improve your focus is difficult and cumbersome. But improving focus doesn’t have to be a long and tiring process. You can do it right now, easily and quickly, in four simple steps.
Without understanding the problem, no solution will be effective. It is the same with improving your focus.
You need to fully understand the problem first, which you’ll do in this step.
Focus doesn’t come when you force yourself to do something. It comes naturally when you are fully involved and interested, and that happens when you have a strong reason and purpose for doing something.
In the book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill starts by explaining the importance of having a burning desire to achieve any success in life, and it is the same with improving your focus.
You need a burning desire to achieve success, and you need a robust and detailed reason to do something, and that’s when you will start focusing better.
When you have a definite purpose for doing something, you naturally feel inclined to do it because you fully understand the importance of that action. As I am writing this blog post, I know exactly why I am doing it, and I don’t need to force myself to focus on it.
When you have a clear sense of purpose, focus becomes effortless.
But what is the purpose of watching movies because when we do that, focus becomes effortless, right?
There is a purpose, indeed a powerful one. When you don’t have a purpose of doing other things that matter, your brain’s biological impulses kick in, and it runs towards instant gratification and looks for things that avoid pain. That’s the purpose. Watching movies is not painful at all; sitting down and writing a business report is. Naturally, the mind chooses things that avoid pain and allow instant pleasure. You can also click here to read a blog post I wrote on instant gratification to understand this concept deeply.
Before trying to focus on any goal or action, think, “What is my purpose and reason behind doing this?” Ask this question and reflect on it to determine whether or not that action even matters to you on a deeper level.
If it does matter, focus will become effortless for you, and all you need to do is tackle distractions. That’s what the next steps are for!
Improving focus is a process, and planning is an integral part of it. Now that you know exactly what your priorities are, you need to create a plan through brainstorming.
The first thing you need to do is, list down all your priorities and why that specific action is a priority. Having the purpose right in front of you is important to constantly remind yourself of that and focus better.
Create a table like this and write your priorities down. Here I am sharing my current priorities as an example.
|Make 2 YouTube videos a week.||I want to reach more and more people and provide valuable content.|
|Write weekly blog posts.||I want to provide valuable information to help people improve their lives.|
|Do a course.||I want to upskill myself.|
|Read for 3 hours||I want to increase my knowledge|
Once you have that, you need to write down all the possible distractions that may come up in your journey and stop you from focusing. List down as many distractions as possible and be completely transparent with yourself. Nobody else is going to look at this sheet except you. Pour your heart out and be open.
As you list these, think of all the possible solutions to them. Write them down in another table or simply mention them in points. Whatever works for you, do that. Our main goal is to make these distractions seem as impractical as possible to don’t go towards them and remain focused on our work. We need to create a lot of friction between us and the distraction.
Here’s a sample table that addresses the distractions from our previous table.
|POSSIBLE DISTRACTIONS||SOLUTIONS TO DISTRACTIONS|
|YouTube, Social Media, Searching for unimportant things.||Turn off devices when doing offline work and use website blockers if internet is needed.|
|Cluttered workspace, picking up unnecessary things without any purpose.||Set out a separate workspace where you do nothing else but work. It can be any place anywhere.|
|A lot of disturbance around, not able to focus.||Use headphones and listen to instrumental music while working or choose a place where there is less or no disturbance.|
|Messages and emails from people.||Turn off your phone, email, and message notifications.|
Now you have an entire action plan ready. You know what your distractions are, and you also know how you will deal with them. The only thing left in the planning step is creating a unique schedule that allows you to minimize distractions and focus more on your top priorities. I also have a blog post that talks more about how to be productive and focus on your priorities which you can read.
We’ll be creating our schedule using a technique called time blocking. For certain parts of the day, you block your time to focus on one specific task and make the schedule based on that. Then you can put this task onto any to-do list app(I currently use Todoist), or you can also just write them down on paper for each day. Do what works for you.
Look at this table below for reference. I have made it based on my priorities, and you can modify it as you wish. I keep reading as the first task so that I don’t have to open my devices until 10:30 in the morning. And I also keep it as the last task in the evening so that my devices turn off around 8 or 8:30 pm. I do all other tasks in between. Also, make sure to keep periods of rest in between because relaxing and rejuvenating yourself is also very important!
|9:00 AM to 10:30 AM||Reading|
|10:30 AM to 1:00 PM||Course and study|
|1:00 PM to 2:00 PM||Lunch break and relaxation period.|
|2:00 PM to 4:15 PM||Course and Study|
|4:15 PM to 4:45 PM||Meditation and relaxation.|
|4:45 PM to 6:45 PM||Research/writing/shooting for videos/blog posts.|
|6:45 PM to 7:15 PM||Dinner|
|7:15 PM to 8:00 PM||Some more research if needed/social media time.|
|8:00 PM to 10:30 PM||Reading|
My schedule often looks like this. Somedays, it may change a little, but I mostly follow this structure. Now that you have created one like this, it is time to get to the real action and the third step: Execution.
You need to take action on your plan and see how it goes. For two weeks, implement the schedule you have created and note down your observations about how your day went each night.
In this stage, all you need to do is take action and observe. You don’t need to judge or analyze anything right now. Each night, you have to record data.
Be completely honest about how the day went and write in detail. If it went well and was productive, write that down and mention all the actions you took. If it was unproductive, write that down and mention all the details about what constructive actions you took and which actions were unproductive or unnecessary.
Let the data collect, and at the end of two weeks, you need to dive into the fourth step.
Now it’s time to analyze the results. Sit down with your computer or notebook and open up the observation sheet for the first day. Look through all you wrote and write down what your remarks or thoughts are about that day. Is there anything that could be done better, or was it fine? Think and reflect.
Do this for all 14 days, and you’ll start to see patterns emerge. You’ll find similarities in days that were unproductive and similarities in days that were productive. Try to find out the characteristics of both productive and unproductive days.
Once you see the patterns, think of how you can double down on the productive aspects of your day and minimize the activities or actions that distracted you.
Change your schedule accordingly and implement that for the next two weeks!
Focus becomes effortless when you have a strong purpose. Remember this and stick to that one strong purpose. Eventually, you won’t need any planners or exercises because you’ll know what matters the most to you and focus on that directly.
But, going through these steps is important because improving focus is a process, and these steps will lead you to that.
First of all, you need to think about what matters to you, what actions are a priority, and why is that. Get your purpose clear.
Then, plan out all your actions by brainstorming over your priorities and identifying possible distractions. Create a schedule based on all of that and implement it.
While you take action, don’t judge anything and just note down your observations. After two weeks of implementation, reflect and analyze the results.
Your focus will improve and skyrocket.
Continue this cycle and repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 to constantly refine and improve your focus.
Are you ready to take action and improve your focus?
Partnering in your success, happiness, and growth,
(DISCLAIMER: This blog post may contain affiliate links to relevant products.)