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Rediscovering Focus: How I Did It

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https://hackernoon.com/rediscovering-focus-how-i-did-it-rd6d3249

hackernoon.com

Rediscovering Focus: How I Did It
After years of distractions and poor decision making. I rediscovered the art of focus. I realized that if I did not plant my butt in the chair, I would fall behind in my ambitions. Since October of last year, I have been taking serious action to improve my attention span and my ability to do deep work.

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Increase your focus by setting goals

Whenever you have issues focusing, try setting goals. The most important tip anybody could give you at this point is that the smaller the goal, the better the result. Therefore, try focusing on one...

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Organize your tasks for a better focus

Organizing your tasks according to their difficulty level has only positive effects on your work. You will not only keep track of what has been done and what remains to be done, but you will also m...

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Scheduling improves your focus

Carefully scheduling your daily program enables you to reach a better focus. As you plan your day, you should take care of dividing your tasks according to the available time. This way you will kno...

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Improve your focus by actually focusing on one task

In order to improve your focus, you should actually try focusing on one task and one only. Therefore, make sure all possible distractions are being blocked, so you can devote yourself to only one t...

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Build up your working environment

When trying to reach your maximum focus, you might want to consider building up your environment in such a way that it triggers your brain to start focusing. Playing your favourite music, sitting i...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Statistics about multi-tasking

  • Trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s the cognitive equivalent of pulling an all-nighter.
  • The average desk job ...

When you single-task...

  • you tend to work on the right things. Effective single-tasking requires planning. Starting your day without a plan is just asking for distraction and inefficiency.
  • you accomplish more in less time with less stress: Intentionally focusing on one task at a time has been proven the most efficient way to move through your to-do list.

4 essential components of effective single-tasking:

  1. Cutting out distractions.
  2. Make a single-tasking plan you’ll actually stick to.
  3. Dealing with unavoidable distractions.
  4. Getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the single-tasking band wagon.

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Brian Tracy

Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life de..."

Brian Tracy

Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Oliver Emberton
"The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency."

Oliver Emberton

Important vs. urgent tasks

  • Important tasks are things that contribute to your long-term mission, values, and goals.
  • Urgent tasks are tasks that have to be dealt with immediately: phone calls, urgent deadlines, and situations where you have to respond quickly.

Sometimes important tasks stare you right in the face, but you neglect them and respond to urgent but unimportant things.

Don't be available all the time

Time, not money, is your most valuable asset. Invest your asset:

  • Allocate time to each task you need to get done every day. 
  • Each task of the day should be attainable, realistic, and time-bound. And it should advance your goals for the day, week or month.
  • Don't get distracted by everything others expect you to do.

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Personal Mission Statement

It consists of thinking long and hard about your life and work. Write down everything that is on your mind, then consider what is most important.

  • You want to know where you want to go...

Acknowledging Progress

Progress can sometimes feel like endless staircases where you climb and climb, but can never see the end.

A personal mission statement allows you to look back and see how far you've climbed.

Putting Things Into Perspective

A personal mission statement reminds you where you're coming from and puts your life in perspective. When you feel frustrated, you can go back and read how much you've progressed over a specific time.

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The goal of staying focused

The goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. 

Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative.

Do creative work first

Typically, we do mindless work first and build-up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus.

In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work.

Allocate your time deliberately

We are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours.

90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.

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Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle

  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;

Melatonin

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.

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Clean up your workspaces

End the workday by taking a minute to tidy your desk, save everything you’re working on, and close of all your tabs and windows. Make sure your work app notifications are automatically snoozed outs...

Review your "to-done’s"

Boost your mood and motivation by taking the time to review your completed tasks at the end of each day.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay motivated and build momentum at work is to celebrate your progress.

The procrastination “doom loop”

Confront the things you’ve been putting off. If you keep putting things off, you'll feel guilty and that makes you want to avoid them even more. You will get stuck in the “doom loop” of anxiety and avoidance.
Break this loop by identifying the tasks that you’ve been avoiding, break them down into smaller tasks and schedule the next step for the following day.

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Working alone

Working alone

Being in a space that's free from distractions while managing your time may sound perfect. But working alone is not a cure-all. Remote work can make you realize that the battle was neve...

Going with the flow

Elements to help you reach a state of flow.

  1. There are specific goals every step of the way.
  2. There is immediate feedback to your actions.
  3. There is a balance between challenges and skills.
  4. Action and awareness are merged.
  5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
  6. There is no worry of failure.
  7. Self-consciousness disappears.
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted.
  9. The activity becomes autotelic.

To allow this deep work to occur requires you to be vigilant about outside interruptions.

The ability to face distractions

Solitude can initially make you squirm but later becomes a bedrock for intense concentration and creativity. Deflect distractions and use solitude to your advantage:

  • Listen to the sounds of nature. It calms the storm of thoughts and allows you to focus on the task at hand.
  • Accept imperfection. Don't chase an "ideal" work environment; accept what you have.

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William James

“Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

William James

The 2 kinds of distractions

  • Sensory distractions (External): The things happening around us, like colleagues talking, phones ringing, people moving around us, music playing, etc.
  • Emotional distractions (Internal): The thoughts that make our attention drift from what we’re doing. For example, remembering a phone call you need to make or thinking about a future meeting.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman

“It’s not the chatter of people around us that is the most powerful distractor, but rather the chatter of our own minds.”

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Productivity is simplicity

True productivity is putting the right things on your to-do list, exclusively answering emails that matter, and only taking meetings that will propel you forwards. 

It...

Helping others

Givers, those who are other-focused, paying more attention to what people need from them, dominate the top of the success ladder.

Productivity shouldn’t only be the pursuit of self-improvement, but also a mission to improve the lives and the work of people we encounter.

Prioritize the work that excites you

Minimize the things you dread and meetings you don't want to attend as much as possible: say “no”, delegate, and automate.

This leaves you to make room on your calendar for discussions that exhilarate you.

When what you spend your time on is congruent with your interests and values, progress feels conveniently close.

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