Focus is the new superpower. Think about it.
How many times has someone asked you a question, but didn’t hear your response because they were distracted by their smartphone?
They couldn’t focus on your response for five seconds, and they actually wanted to know the answer!
If you want to have a huge advantage in your life, I believe learning how to avoid being distracted is key….for kids and adults.
Try these techniques to strengthen your focus:
1. Work at the optimal time. We all have a time of day that we’re best at focusing. For most people, it’s either early in the day or later at night that our ability to focus is at its highest. Whenever possible, schedule those activities that require great focus during those times. Save easier tasks for other times of the day.
I’m a natural night owl but lately with no performing going on, I’m working at my least energetic time of day. I don’t love it but it’s where I’m at right now.
2. Remove distractions. One way to be less distracted is to have fewer distractions. Consider what you’re commonly distracted by and do what you can to eliminate those distractions from your environment.
For example, you can’t be distracted by your phone if it’s turned off and in the other room. The TV isn’t a distraction if there isn’t one in the room.
If you’re distracted by a noisy environment, use noise-cancelling headphones while you work.
I love love love my noise canceling AirPods. I wear them even if I’m not listening to music for the noise cancelling quiet. It’s amazing how loud our environments are at home.
3. Set your intention. Decide what you’re going to accomplish before you begin a task. How long are you going to work on it? What is the endpoint? Is it completion or a specific amount of time? Decide that you’re going to focus on this task until that endpoint is reached.
I plan my day each morning and then I really try to stick to my plan. It’s not easy and sometimes I get derailed but it’s better than not having a plan at all.
4. Use a timer. A timer is an easy way to magnify your focus and avoid being distracted. Set the timer for the appropriate amount of time and see how much you can get done in that time. Commit to working non-stop until your time elapses.
Did you know if you have Siri or Google Assistant activated on your smartphone you can say “Hey Google/Siri, set a time for X minutes.” And they will! It’s a very useful tool for me so I can focus on one thing and not worry about getting so sucked in I forget my commitments.
5. Practice focusing in your daily life. The way to avoid being distracted is to be good at focusing. You’re either doing one or the other every moment of the day. Whether you’re eating a meal, driving, taking a shower, watching TV, or having a conversation, try to focus completely on what you’re doing.
I’ve been doing this with eating lately. Trying to do that and nothing else. Again it’s not easy but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth my trying.
6. Take breaks. No one can focus intently for hours and hours without a break. Experiment and see how often you need to take a break and how long your breaks need to be in order to feel recharged.
Keep in mind that it’s better to take a break before you actually feel the need for one.
Studies have shown that most people do best with a five-minute break every 30 minutes. A longer break is needed every couple of hours. Use this information as a starting point and experiment.
Full disclosure, I’m not good at this one…yet. Actually I’m terrible at it so far. But just like everyone else I have the capacity to get better with practice.
7. Get sufficient sleep. You can’t focus well if you’re not getting enough sleep. Your brain just doesn’t work very well without the rest it requires. How much sleep do you need? As much as it takes, but it’s likely to be more than you first guess.
I’m doing great in this area but it took me about 3 months of really paying attention to it, tracking it and making it a priority. That meant turning off Netflix and going to bed at an earlier time than normal to catch.
It would be awesome to be able to fly or to walk through walls, but that’s not going to happen. The ability to focus, however, is incredibly powerful and a skill you can actually develop.