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Three steps to improve your focus

by Zahid Jadwat

Why improve your focus? We live in an era where distractions bombard us from all around, far too often denting our productivity. The need to evade the deluge of distractions has never been more urgent.

While most people would lament their lack of concentration, I would believe instead that this evil presents an opportunity. For those ready to go against the grain, distractions present potent opportunities to get ahead of the rest.

This makes the need to improve your focus ever more critical, a skill that will inevitably place you ahead of the rest. According to life coach and mentor Rob Dial, here are three practical steps you could take to improve your focus.

There’s one caveat before you read on. “Your brain is going to resist something that’s outside of its comfort zone. So, when you start to go from a distracted human to a person who’s starting to focus, there will be resistance to it because it feels unnatural,” he warns.

“Knowing that your brain is going to resist it is the most important thing because the first few times you sit down to focus, there will be strong resistance. There will be a big pull to go back to your phone.”

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Set a dedicated ‘focus time’

It can be quite easy to get swept away by the ubiquitous distractions that tug at our attention all day. The trick here is to identify a period within your day when distractions are at its least and form a habit of doing your most important tasks during this window.

For some, this could be the morning. For others, it could be the afternoon. It could even be midnight, depending on your chronotype (more on that in another post!).

“You’ll know it through trial and error,” says Dial. “The first thing you do is you identify what time is best for you and then create a ritual around it.”

“For me, I have very specific rituals that I’ve learnt. If I’m sitting down to work, [I] clear off my entire desk, put my phone in the other room, then get coffee, listen to binaural beats and then stare at the screen for about one to two minutes and I’ll try not to blink.”

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Turn your stress into motivation

As Dial explains, stress can be a strong motivational tool. It is possible to channel its effect away from discouragement towards motivation to get things done by leaning into it.

“If we can learn to lean into these feelings, know that it’s bringing us focus. We’re about to walk through the doorway of focus. We can actually start to tell ourselves [that] this is a really good thing. We can fight through the anxiousness we’re feeling and know that on the other side is the focus that we’re looking for. It’s why you get so much done when you have a deadline.”

Use the Pomodoro technique

One of the biggest productivity hacks out there is the Pomodoro technique. The technique breaks your work sessions into intervals of 25 minutes to recharge your focus.

It was invented in the early 1990s by the entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo and has since been adopted by many worldwide. Dial says this technique can also strengthen focus.

“I always do the Pomodoro technique. Twenty-five minutes of one task only – not multitasking. After I’m done with this 25 minutes, the alarm goes off. I have five minutes to go out in my back porch and just walk around,” he says.

Dial warns that using the five-minute breaks to check your phone is “the worst thing you can do”.

By implementing these techniques simultaneously, it is possible to evade distraction and successfully improve your focus. Developing this skill is a sure-fire way of getting ahead of others but requires diligence and discipline. The sooner you master the art of focus, the better!

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