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Maintaining focus nowadays is harder than ever before. Your pocket vibrates at any moment because you're getting ten new emails, social media has all these notifications, the phone is ringing, your kids need help, and your colleagues are asking you to chime in on some memo.
However, maintaining focus is more critical than before. The most productive people and companies create ways to manage their minds so they can focus on what's important and ignore distractions. The way they do this is by building mental models.
Essentially, productive people tell themselves stories about what they expect to see. Engaging in this inner dialogue about what they think should be happening allows their brain to figure out what to focus on and ignore.
For example, researchers found that the best NICU nurses created a picture in their minds of what they thought the perfect baby should look like. Then, walking through the unit, they would notice when babies didn't match that picture and investigate in good time to save the babies' lives.
People are much better at maintaining their focus, not reacting and not getting distracted because they've envisioned what they expect to occur ahead of time.
So when riding the subway to work, they envision what the day will be like and what they expect to happen at that meeting. Or they have a picture in their mind of what it's going to be like to deal with the kids while making dinner.
The result is that their subconscious knows what to focus on when their pocket buzzes.
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