The Power of Focus
The power of focus has been overlooked in the past decades as technology advances. This advancement has led to an increase of distractions and therefore has led to a decrease in productivity. An interruption encountered during focused efforts doesn’t just break your concentration for the duration of the interruption. Surprisingly, the amount of time required to recover from the distraction has the greatest impact. Studies have shown that once distracted from a task, it takes almost 25 minutes to regain focus. That is insane, especially knowing that we are constantly being distracted by our cell phones. The massive amount of time required to recover from the distractions takes a toll on our focus causing us to feel low levels of progress.
First leave your phone on “do not disturb” mode and in a different room. Next find a quiet location that has very few distractions (library, office, etc.) After you have secured a location, spend all of your energy and concentration on the work you are trying to complete. You will be truly amazed at how much you accomplish in a short period of time. This accomplishment phenomena allows you access to your focus potential, some athletes refer to it as “in the zone” where all distractions seem inexistent.
Using Parkinson’s Law To Increase Focus
Have you ever noticed that the more time you have to complete a task, the longer it takes? I certainly have. It also seems that tasks with longer deadlines feel agonizing and are susceptible to procrastination. Parkinson’s law is a justification of this experience. The law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”, in other words… The more time you have to complete a project, the longer it will take you. How does this law relates to our subject of focus? I thought you’d never ask! In relation to focused work, you are able to use this law to your advantage. We take advantage by inverting the law! Instead of using the extended deadline and taking all of the time to complete it, minimize the deadline to a near impossible level. The minimal deadline will force you to focus on execution and will lead to completion. Timothy Ferris wrote about this in his book The Four Hour Work Week, using an example of when he had an extremely short deadline to complete a massive project.
While working on large projects that require boatloads of focus, make sure to take breaks! The average person can work in a focused state and remain productive for about 45 minutes. After that mark, the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in leaving focus levels and productivity to slowly wane. I recommend taking short 5-10 minute breaks in between periods of increased focus. Even stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, or a brief wander to the refrigerator will work wonders on your level of focus.
Happy Focusing 😎
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