If there is one skill that is so helpful in life and provide tremendous growth it is the ability to have focus. Being able to have intense focus on any given task, or overarching goal in life will allow you to reach new heights in life.
But often times when we talk about focus, we talk about the focus on those specific aspects. To have intense focus on the task that’s laid out before you or perhaps the goal beyond that.
I’m not talking about that kind of focus.
I’m talking about the focus on the entire process.
The kind of focus where you can build a system, follow it, and find a great amount of growth in it. So long as you are keeping to that path. It’s not so much paying attention to all the details as it is having a plan, following a system, having the confidence that it’ll get you there, and having something in place should there be any snags.
I feel that what I’m talking about is possible and doesn’t require any kind of foresight into the matter. All it requires is the proper focus.
What Is This Focus Skill?
Being able to focus is one of the biggest reasons for human survival. Our ancestors had to focus when it came to hunting and being able to act quickly in dire situations. Today though we are not out hunting and in fact our attention span – and ability to focus – is on a decline.
With so much information, there are many things we can focus on, yet choose to spend little time on it. As a result, the level of focus that I’m talking about is a foreign concept and is challenging for anyone.
There are so many kinds of distractions out there. Pair that up with so many people not sure what to do with life, many people spend their time watching videos or other things.
People simply do not have the capacity to focus that intensely. Another example of this is what people have decided to do during lockdown. Between treating their day as normal, those who are taking the guidelines seriously have been following a specific routine of what a typical weekend at home is like.
But as unfocused as many of us are, I think that we can all develop this level of laser focus in our lives.
How To Enhance This Skill
From my understanding, focus depends heavily on your own mindset and what is influencing it. For about a month, the amount of work I have done has dwindled significantly and it’s only been now where I’m getting back into the swing of things.
The reason for this lack of focus is simple: I was way too distracted by various distractors. Youtube videos, a shiny new console (in my defence it has been seven years since I owned a console), a slight worry about my finances during this pandemic.
These things took up my attention and prompted me to sink hours of my time into it. Occasionally I did something productive like write for my clients, make a meal that demanded more than 30 minutes of my time to make, and go for a walk. However all of those things aren’t necessarily big advancements to my goals.
I’m reliant on my stimulus cheque more so now and my weight has been maintained since this pandemic began.
But as I’ve been easing myself into my work once more, there are particular things that have helped me regain focus and getting things done. Furthermore they are inspiring confidence in myself and are providing a distinct direction for myself too.
Focusing on the following aspects have helped me to improve my overall focus.
Formulating A Plan & Goals
In order to have any level of focus, knowing where you want to go and how you will get there is important. By putting together a plan and setting goals for yourself, you can begin the process of having more focus.
As I’ve said time and time again, when you are setting goals, you are essentially following a compass. There is a path before you that is laid out thanks in part to goals.
But this becomes vital when it comes to developing your focus skill. Why is that? Because as you are pursuing that goal, someone with intense focus is able to ask questions and answer them clearly.
I find during times of great focus, I often ask myself what is pushing me forward. How am I able to concentrate intently on my work despite listening to music or my roommate laughing at a Youtube video he is watching? How can I have four or five-hour writing sessions and handle them with no worry about time?
A lot of that can be attributed to the focus that I have and the goals that I have laid out for myself. Followed up by a clear step by step process that I follow as well.
Another way to look at this is that I’m developing a system in which I can get work done within a specific time limit.
If you’ve read an article on focusing before, this advice is one of the staples and it makes sense. Our attention span has diminished thanks in part to social media and instant gratification. With so much being thrown at us, many of us are like Veruca Salt, always wanting something immediately.
But this sort of behaviour has also caused us to be frightfully distracted as well. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to be working on something for a good twenty minutes and then spend a half hour scouring through emails or checking up on social media.
Our brain can cause us to jump from task to task regardless of if the task is completed or not.
But while many say our brain is a bother in this regard, I would argue that people simply haven’t trained their brains well enough to handle such things. Why do you think I tell people to be conservative with their goals and to-do lists?
There is a lot of research in place and simplicity at it’s core can do so much good for people. In this case, the simple method to obtaining greater focus is to find a way to block out distractions.
This can be taken in many forms. I personally listen to music as it allows me to focus on my task. And when I take a brief break, I get to listen to some tunes while I’m at it to pump myself up. The one thing to keep in mind though is music is a double-edged sword. It can cause distractions for people, yourself included.
You want to ensure that your environment and surrounding is void of distractions and filled with things that allow you to focus on the task at hand. Things like clean desks, a comfy chair, and fresh air are other examples to create a distraction-free environment.
Entering A Work Flow State
Once you have no distractions, the next crucial step is to enter a state of flow. The concept of flow is that you are losing yourself in the pursuit of this path.
You are so deep into your work, nothing will stop you. Nothing will pull you away from it. This frame of mind is tricky to achieve. On your first try, it’s not something that can be done. But for myself, I’ve worked on my writing long enough that I feel I can achieve this state on occasion.
Over the years I’ve talked about how I write at cafes. That is one such place where I can enter a workflow state. Anyway, this skill is important as it’s another form of deep focus.
Not only that, but you can emulate this environment in other areas. For example, I like the atmosphere of cafes as they help me with this state. And while cafes are closed due to quarantine, I can emulate that environment. I can easily brew myself a cup of tea if I’d like to and work during the day when the sun is out.
The fact I’m visualizing this helps me in focusing. Furthermore, it blocks distractions from bothering me.
Having Strong Incentives For Work
The last aspect to developing this skill is to have strong incentives for working. It’s along the same lines as the questions I gave earlier. The only difference is the approach is different.
In short, you want to be able to answer why you are working and why you are choosing this path. Every person has many options to pick from, so why this one? You want to be able to find a deep personal connection to your work.
Being able to identify that will improve this skill as it allows you to push forward. It’s key because many people are stuck with one question upon finishing a goal.
The question of “What’s next?“
Why they are stuck is due to them lacking the focus to identify another objective. Another problem to solve. Or another way to improve an already great system. When you have strong and compelling reasons, developing that skill of yours in all regards is a lifelong pursuit.
There isn’t a “what’s next?” when it comes to something you are that driven for. Your answer is simple: “I’ll keep growing and getting better.” I find this is powerful because to me, when you reach the top of something, there is always someone doing better than you. That or there is someone who is striving to be better than you. As such, the pursuit of getting good and building on it is something that never ends.
Hone This Skill And Grow Beyond
The skill to focus on every aspect and make adjustments is something that I want to be living by. I think that other people can also take up this creed as well as it can be an enlightening experience.
That isn’t to say that you won’t run into snags or setbacks in the growth though. Those things will happen. But when you have a level of skill that is this profound, you won’t be bothered by those things. You’ll get back up and try once more.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon