Improve Your Focus and Concentration
Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash
Ambitious people often want to achieve many things. They’ve got a lot of ideas, they know time is limited, and they want to see all of them flourish as soon as possible. So, in a rush to accomplish this, they run with multiple ideas at the same time often they’ve got multiple businesses, work on parallel projects, and fill their calendar with numerous tasks.
While their excitement, dedication, and hard work are worth being appreciated, this style of approaching goals in itself is not very effective, and that’s because by working on lots of things at the same time, you lose one of the most important aspects of success — you lose focus!
To work in a focused manner means to limit the things you put your attention on — frequently limiting it to a single thing, and this can apply at a smaller scale, meaning you dedicate big chunks of time each day to a single task and focus on just that one, but it can also apply at a larger scale, meaning you only work on one to two big projects at a time.
Read also: The basics of success (must read)
The fact of the matter is that our brains are not very good at dealing with multiple tasks, projects, and jobs. It needs focus to get things done in an effective manner.
For instance, every time we do a complex task. The mind needs some time to enter into the proper state for getting that task done well, and moving from one task to another involves a switching cost, and these costs consist of the mental effort and time required to exit the proper mental state for one task and enter the appropriate state for another one.
If say, you’re writing a paper, it might take you about half an hour to get into the proper mental state for paper writing, then if after that you have to interview a potential employee, you have to get yourself out of that mental state and put yourself into the proper mental state for interviewing a person, and that might take another good half an hour.
Now, imagine that you write on your paper for an hour, then have an interview for another hour. Then right on the paper for another hour, interview another hour, and so on for the rest of the day, just alternating between the two.
Well, the switching costs in such a case are immense. You will waste a lot of time and energy just switching between different mental states and this will cut short your productivity.
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You would be much better off spending the first half of your day writing on your paper and the second half doing interviews which means you only do one major mental switch.
On a larger scale, when you handle lots of projects at the same time, it creates the problem of your mind starting to mix up information, thinking, and emotional habits from all the various projects and thus becoming less efficient.
Sometimes taking ideas or thinking styles from one project and using them in another is a great idea. It’s like a productive creative process, but in many other times, it just creates confusion or interference between projects.
For example, if imagine that you run a coffee shop, an accounting firm, and a kindergarten class at the same time. It’s very easy for your mind to get used to the type of thinking used in one project and bring it into the other ones.
For instance, for the last couple of days, you’ve been paying a lot of attention to your accounting firm and you got used to thinking in a very precise, calculated manner, and that’s probably not the kind of thing you want to bring with you when interacting with your students and coworkers at kindergarten.
Over there, things will probably go a lot better for them if you used an open and empathic thinking style, but you might find yourself involuntarily using the previous thinking style anyway.
We’re sure you can imagine or draw from your own experience, many other ways in which the thinking and emotional habits from one business could interfere with another one.
Ultimately, when you have many things on your plate, whether it’s many diverse tasks in one day or many diverse projects to manage, it uses your mental resources in an ineffective manner, and thus, in turn, affects your productivity. This is why focus is so important.
So, how do you create more focus?
Well, there are several approaches that work well, and we’ll share a couple of them with you.
When it comes to daily tasks, one important trick is to create a long uninterrupted period of focused work. This means two to three hours in which you focus on a single task without interruptions, without changing the task.
Now, of course, this might be easier said than done.
First of all, you have to reorganize your calendar so you don’t switch between diverging tasks too often.
You may also want to announce to your colleagues that in certain time slots you’re not available because you’re trying to work without distractions during those periods, or you might want to work from a place where you cannot be bothered for a few hours every day.
And also important, in these slots of focused work, you want all of your notifications switched off, so they cannot distract you.
We’re talking e-mail, Facebook, and even your phone call notifications. Make yourself available only for the task at hand. It’ll do wonders for your productivity.
When it comes to juggling multiple projects right now, it’s probably clear why you should try to avoid that as much as you can, but a one way to do that is to do serial projects instead of parallel ones.
So, for example, you start at the coffee shop, you grow it, you improve it, and once the coffee shop is doing well, you find a manager to take care of it for you. Then you move on to another business idea, say the accounting firm we mentioned, and focus on that, while only occasionally checking back in on the coffee shop.
Serializing projects in this way is a very effective way to improve focus and enhance your productivity. It also requires patience because you’ll have to delay starting some projects until the one year working on right now is going well.
This is definitely a virtue to cultivate. It also requires you to delegate. You let other people manage some of your projects once they’ve reached a certain material. And hey, this can sometimes be hard to do if you tend to be perfectionistic and you don’t trust other people to handle things for you, but nevertheless—
“The more you delegate and refocus, the more you get used to it and even come to enjoy it.”
Especially if you make sure you delegate the best and most important tasks to the most competent and motivated people.
To wrap this article, always remember —
The lack of focus drains our energy and confuses our brains, and makes us waste a lot of time. This is why focus applied to tasks and projects is one of the most powerful productivity tools you can have.
CONTRIBUTED BY Entrepreneuria
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