10 Rules of Focus
Being able to focus and concentrate are critical aspects of being successful. Unfortunately, they do not come naturally to most of us. For most of us it can be quite a challenge. I have discovered that being able to focus and concentrate are skills that must be learned. After years of telling myself that I am too easily distracted and just unable to focus I decided to do something about it; I have the right attitude, I can conquer this. The good news is that you are never too old to learn how to focus. So, as I have a tendency to do, I broke it down into components and created a guide of sorts. Consider these 10 rules to be your guide.
1. Define Your Goals
Be exact as to what you want to accomplish. Is it school work, a project for work, home improvement, a book you are writing, a blog that you are creating, a post that you are writing…..anything? What are your goals and how long will you need to attain them. What do you need to complete today. It is impossible for you to gain focus and concentration if you do not know what you want or how long it will take you to get there.
2. Prioritize Your Tasks and Organize Them
Most of us are not made to perform multiple tasks at the same time and perform them all well. After defining what your goals and tasks are, prioritize them. Decide what the more important ones are and put them in rank order. Only you can decide why one is more important than another. Be logical in this, not emotional.
3. Do One Thing at a Time, and Do It Well
Once they are prioritized start working on the one that is at the top of your list and only concentrate on that one. You will be surprised at how fast you can complete it if you put the other tasks out of your mind until this one has been completed. You will also be surprised at how well you can do it. If you have a project to work on, divide it into sections such as planning, gathering for resources, implementing the changes, and so forth.
4. Expect Distractions and Prepare For Them
When you begin your task, expect interruptions and distractions; nothing ever goes smooth. Just the fact that you know that something will go wrong will help in overcoming the distraction. As an example, if you have a hard time concentrating when there is noise around you (my biggest issue when trying to focus), choose some appropriate music and use headphones so as not to annoy others. Classical music works well for me. As I am writing this I am in an airplane listening to jazz on my headphones. There are noisy kids around me, but I came prepared. If you have to read or write and you don’t want to be disturbed, shut off the phone or go to the library.
5. Be Patient and Never Give Up
Do not expect to accomplish full focus and concentration right away. This will take time, but stick with it. It will get easier each time. By not expecting to gain full focus the first time you attempt these rules, you will not be disappointed in yourself. This, in my opinion, is the most important of the rules. If you have read any of my writing then you know that “Never giving up” is huge. Stick with it. It will get easier each time.
6. There Is a Price To Pay
Nothing comes free. Life is a compromise (this could be the genesis of another post.) In order to accomplish a task you will have to give up something that you may enjoy more. Again, understand this and accept it. Acceptance will make the act of compromise a lot easier.
7. Get Ahead of Yourself
To put it simply: avoid procrastination. The faster you begin to work on your goals, the better you will be able to attain focus and be able to concentrate, and of course, you will be able to complete the tasks that much faster. You want to avoid the discomfort of stress and pressure by leaving things to the last minute. If you begin to work on your goals ahead of schedule, you will be more able to focus and concentrate because there is nothing else to worry about except to get the job done.
8. Law of Diminishing Returns
This is an economics term: “beyond some point, each additional unit of variable input yields less and less additional output.” Know when you are too tired to concentrate and when to “give it a break.” Learn to tell when you are too tired to be productive. In my case, if I am working at my desk and I feel too tired to be effective, I put my feet up and take a 10 minute (maybe more) cat nap. This enables me to again become productive. For some it may be to stretch or to take a 10 minute walk. You might just need to eat something. Learn to recognize what your body is yearning for (this could be the makings of another post) and give your body what it needs.
9. Reward Yourself
The ideal reward for completing a job is the satisfaction that it is done and done to the best of your ability. However, that is not enough for most of us. If that is the case, then when the job is complete, allow yourself an indulgence; reward yourself. Eat some ice cream, play a video game, watch a television show, buy yourself something, etc. Allow yourself to feel good about what you have accomplished.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have conquered the ability to focus, do not take it for granted. Continue to practice this new found skill. Take it one step at a time and follow these 10 rules. Before you know it will become second nature.
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