How do we focus?
Focus is basically defined as the act of concentrating your attention on whatever you are dealing with at the time. James Clear, speaker and author, author of Atomic Habits, says that the act of focusing occurs when you say yes to one option and no to all other options, and adds, “Being able to eliminate is a prerequisite for focusing.” Entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss puts it this way, “What you don’t do determines what you can do.”
Clear says that when it comes to focusing, we need to say no to the stimuli that we need to give up while making this elimination, rather than saying no permanently, we need to say no in a way that expresses the present moment. Developing the ability to focus is actually more about getting the job done efficiently than getting the job done. Clear says, “Focus is the key to productivity because saying no to all other options unlocks your ability to accomplish the only thing left.”
How to increase focus?
Focusing on the process, not the work to be done
Clear’s advice for developing the ability to focus is to focus on the process of what you need to do, as opposed to focusing on the outcome. Clear says that we often see success as an event to be achieved at the end. Therefore, we categorise success with a single outcome. Whether it’s small or large tasks on the way to that outcome, a daily task to complete, or a really big accomplishment, it works better to focus on the process rather than the results and goals. You can remind yourself from time to time that your motivation for focusing is to enjoy the process as opposed to getting the job done, so you can improve your focus by shifting it in a good direction.
Create meditation routines
Studies suggest that having a regular meditation routine reduces stress by reducing grey matter, an important component of the central nervous system in the brain. In addition, it leads to the development of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with actions such as self-discipline, willpower, and choice-making, including the ability to focus; the left hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, and regulating emotions; and the temporoparietal junction regions responsible for empathy and compassion. In addition to being able to focus on yourself and what is going on in your mind, having a regular meditation routine significantly improves your ability to focus.
A study on this topic revealed that regular exercise for only 4 weeks can help improve both concentration and attention. Exercise can improve the ability to focus by keeping both mind and body active during the day. Experts recommend aerobic exercises for the type of exercise.
Doing brain gymnastics
You can include brain training activities such as memory games, sudoku, chess, puzzles, word games in your daily life. A study on this subject suggests that doing brain training activities for 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week can increase focus.
Time management for the things you need to do during the day, for the things you want to be busy with, reduces the risk of distraction, while knowing that you have a certain time allows you to be aware of the energy you will spend on that job. For this, you can set a timer on your phone or use time management applications. For example, the Forest application grows a virtual tree for the time you set. This tree, which is virtual for you and real for the company, dies when you use your phone before the time you set. Applications such as Focus To – Do and Focus Booster, which include the Pomodoro technique, are also among the alternatives. In addition, having a to-do list for the topics you want to focus on during the day can also help.
Doing focusing exercises
Concentration exercises help you improve your ability to focus by maintaining your focus for a certain period of time as a kind of mental exercise. In fact, meaningless drawings and scribbles that we make in a corner of our notebook just when we are going to focus can turn into an activity that helps us to concentrate when we allocate a certain amount of time, such as 15 minutes. You can also write a small note about how you feel after doing it. Theron Q Dumon, author of The Power of Concentration, offers many exercise alternatives, from just staying still to focusing your attention on a single point.
Here are 2 of them you can try:
- Focus on being as still as possible, sitting in a chair where you feel comfortable and make sure you do not make involuntary muscle movements. Stay this way for 10-15 minutes, but be careful not to strain yourself.
- Sit upright in the chair and stick your chin out and shoulders back. Raise your right arm to shoulder height, turn your head and focus your gaze on your fingers. Hold your arm still for 1 minute. Do this for both the right and left arm. Do this exercise for 5 minutes for each arm until you can do it.