In order to perform better at work, learn new skills, be productive, make decisions, study smarter, and see progress in anything else that involves your brain, you'll need to work on how to focus better.
Know how to focus is crucial in today’s world; especially now, as we live in the era of distraction. So much is going on around us at any moment— it becomes a struggle to stay concentrated on the one activity, task, or even person, in front of us.
Your attention is your most valuable thing, so it's important to keep it where it’s supposed to be — working on the tasks for the day and getting you closer to your dream. Obstacles, though, come in the form of: temptations, distractions, the hundreds of thoughts in our mind at any given minute (generally due to negative influences, such as social media and television), etc.
If we could eliminate all of these distractions, it would be just us and our-laser focused mind. However, it doesn’t seem to work like that. Generally, it gets harder and harder to concentrate on what really matters these days as we constantly get overwhelmed due to the loads of information rocketing our way. This overload of information also makes us anxious; then, we find all types of excuses to procrastinate.
So, to take back control of our focus and improve concentration, we just learn to train our brain to stay focused every time we’re about to get to work.
Proven Techniques on How to Focus
1.) Identify any distraction in your surroundings; then, remove it
This isn't necessarily an easy task, but you can learn to do it quickly and effortlessly— if, you’re determined to improve concentration and your performance.
The point is to not just learn how to focus, but also how to stay focused. For that to happen, all distractions need to be eliminated.
Let’s begin by identifying these distractions. Look around you now.
Now, imagine yourself about to get to work. You are putting effort into concentrating. What pops up in your mind? Does someone enter the room as soon as you begin? Do you go to your phone or open your email right before you begin doing your tasks for the day?
It is good to identify these. Each of these is a productivity killer, and it’s your job to do something about it.
Work on one issue at a time, though.
Here’s what I mean:
Tell other people not to bother you when you’re working. Then, set limits to using your phone and checking email. These distractions take your mind off your current task and you end up doing many other little things that waste your time.
Once you do finish them and force yourself back to work, trying to stay focused, you generally have an even more difficult time doing so.
In order to make room for focus, you must first remove distractions. Don’t worry if you offend anyone. People usually form the habit of calling or texting you when it’s not urgent. Set some rules and ask them to take it seriously. Over time, they will— it's respectful.
2. Practice your willpower muscle.
Your willpower works like a muscle— so does your mind.
A muscle needs practice/exercise to be stronger. What you need to do in order to learn how to focus and do it effortlessly, is to train yourself to become more disciplined.
In order to improve your willpower, you will need exactly what a muscle needs to grow— resistance. If you overcome resistance daily by challenging yourself in small ways, you’ll see gradual change in the right direction.
This might mean waking up earlier, with the first alarm (and we all know how challenging that can be). It can then be saying 'no' to junk food or making ourselves clean the house when it’s not our turn. It can bereminding yourself to stand up straight to improve your posture. It can even be never judging your loved ones again (even if what they share with you about their lives isn’t something you approve). It can be to break a bad habit from the past, or to do a few push ups and crunches every few hours during the day.
All these are small and easy, however, their overall effect is quite amazing. Improving your willpower can help you learn how to focus better because you have more control over your mind— you will soon begin doing anything you should just by telling yourself to do it.
3. Give meditation a try
Meditation can greatly be used to improve concentration. Unfortunately, most people never experience its real benefits.
Give it a try tomorrow morning, or even this evening before bed. It’s important to clear all distractions, find a quiet place, and leave behind any other thoughts (or all thoughts, really).
Meditation is about mindfulness. This is supposed to be how we live all the time. However, we usually keep ourselves busy with unimportant things and struggle with choosing what to focus on. . . This brings chaos to the mind.
By meditating, however, you become one with the present moment. It’s hard in the beginning, so you should try breathing deeply to relax every muscle and let go of the tension.
For newbies, in order to prevent random thoughts from popping, stay focused on your breathing. Just think about it, notice how your body reacts to it, and forget about anything else. This is what laser-focus looks like. . . You’ll experience it soon.
If you are looking for a bit of help staying focused during meditation, check out this helpful video by the wonderful Vishen Lakhiani:
Meditation is proven to not just change mental patterns, but also to evoke clarity and better cognitive performance. If you make meditation a daily practice, you’ll notice you’re constantly alert and can thus stay focused throughout the day.
4. Do one thing at a time
If you’re still wondering how to focus, multitasking is not the answer. In fact, it has the opposite effect on the mind. Doing many things at once simply makes it impossible to do any of them right. What’s more, you quickly feel exhausted and your time and energy are gone without realizing it.
True focus happens when you’re only doing one thing and investing all your attention in it. This is actually another form of meditation— it’s what can get you in 'the zone' every time you work. This focused, meditative state is the same state artists experience when they are working on their craft for hours and forget about the outer world.
Doing more than one thing at a time is the biggest distraction of them all— and you’re the one choosing to do it.
So, say 'no' more often to clear up your time. When you do work on a task, but be sure to do so with improved concentration and try to stay focused until you finish the job.
Focus is such an important skill to master these days. Don’t underestimate it. It can take your life in all of the directions you wish to go— if you do it right. Use the easy techniques above in order to learn how to focus and be productive all day, every day.
What will you be doing with your new and improved concentration? What important tasks will you take on?