Regardless of your natural intellect or talent, you are nothing without focus.
We all know this. Some of us have brilliant ideas but because we can’t spend our time right doing the things we truly must do to make those ideas a reality, 99% of us never reach our full potential.
The problem lies in your spacing of time set aside for work.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
In this same manner we should all strive to make our goals attainable easier and faster.
1) Identify what you need to get done
Before jumping into anything, make sure to understand what are the full requirements of the task at hand, and how much effort and time at maximum focus you will need to complete the task. Be as honest as you can so you don’t underestimate and over plan for too many things.
By this process you will outline what tasks you need to get done in a set amount of time, allowing you to spend the rest of your time maximizing your efforts on getting the task itself done.
2) Give yourself reasonable breaks every 25-30 minutes
Think of focus and concentration as a muscle, and that each time you exercise it grows tired just like running or lifting weights tires your muscles. As a result, when you exercise, especially if its intense exercise, we make sure to give ourselves reasonable breaks to recover and recuperate so that we can get right back to pushing our limits.
Using this principle, we can apply a technique known as The Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique states that we can use our maximum focus and concentration for only about 25 minutes at a time, and therefore to make apt use of that time, we should space our work into 25 minute intervals, with 5 minute breaks between every 25 minutes, with every third break being 20-30 minutes.
More info and link on The Pomodoro Technique here: http://pomodorotechnique.com/
3) Cut out all caffeine if possible
Many of us have made caffeine consumption a common practice in trying to finish our tasks. However what many of us don’t realize is that this trains our brain to only focus and do work when we ingest caffeine, by a principal known as classical conditioning.
Classical conditioning, as it is defined, is a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired; a response that is at first elicited by the second stimulus is eventually elicited by the first stimulus alone.
The first stimuli in this situation would be the consumption of caffeine, while the second stimuli would be the user choosing to begin work. As a result, our brain becomes so used to this form of working that without caffeine or when the caffeine begins to wear off, we lose our ability to work at 100% productivity as we would like to.
Over weeks, months, and years, this process can result in a severe dependency, whereby work itself is impossible without caffeine. And as a result, many of us without realizing it, are trapped in an ever lasting cycle of caffeine addiction.
In addition, caffeine is also known for many negative effects including but not limited to heart palpitations, insomnia, and yellowed teeth, many things that we could all be better off without.
4) Exercise Rigorously At Least 3 Days a Week
Rigorous exercise, compared to moderate or low intensity exercise has been shown to promote and regulate levels of epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, neurotransmitters that play a key role in our ability to pay attention and do work for extended periods of time as well as keep us motivated throughout the day.
It might seem hard for many of us, but try to start by going on a brisk walk every day until you can work yourself up to a brisk jog or interval based sprint training for 20-30 minutes a few days of the week.
5) Get SLEEP!
The greatest but often most overlooked factor in trying to improve our concentration: adequate sleep.
According to a Gallup Poll, 40% of all Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
Sleep is one of the biggest contributing factors to ensuring that we are well rested and capable of learning and processing new information, and without it, our brains simply lack the energy to focus or concentrate on tasks especially those we consider mundane.
If all the above recommended tasks aren’t seeming to help you, ensure you are getting around 7-8 hours of sleep for at least one week, and then try to work those habits back in to your routine.
Just by implementing a few of these strategies, hopefully you will begin to see improvements in your ability to concentrate, and by continually working at it over the course of a few weeks, you will begin to notice, just like exercise that your focus will be much higher than you previously thought possible.
And by completing all your necessary works in less and less time, you will be able to spend time doing the things that really matter to you, whether that be spending time with friends and family or creating the next Fortune 500 Company!