Advertising
Advertising

The Complete Guide To Increasing Your Focus In Life

The Complete Guide To Increasing Your Focus In Life

We all know how important focus is.

Think about it, when was the last time you were so focused on your task that you weren’t distracted?

Focusing nowadays is harder than ever. You know what it’s like when you’re at your job and you think about “just checking” your Facebook feed. One thing leads to other and you’ve spent over an hour looking at what your friends are up to.

The traditional view of procrastination is as that “a stitch in time saves nine,” that in order to be efficient we should not procrastinate. But can you really stop procrastinating?

We have this one-sided belief that procrastination is bad, but if you look at well-known philosophers, they literally just sat around and spent time thinking. Now I know what you’re thinking: it’s because they did not have many distractions. Well, yes and no.

The lives of ancient philosophers like Descartes, Socrates, and Plato were filled with government roles and societal responsibilities, but they chose to think, simply think. Their “overthinking” led to many founding principles today, like Descartes’s mind and body principle.

Advertising

Scientifically, procrastination is really just a battle between two parts of our brain — the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system fights for short-term pleasures while the prefrontal cortex for the long-term goal. However, given that the prefrontal cortex is the only thing that makes us different when compared to animals, there is nothing automatic about this part. Thus, we constantly need to give it a push to get stuff done. Our limbic system, on the other hand, takes over as soon as we stop pushing forward, leading to procrastination.

Procrastination is only natural and not always something to label as negative. Now that we have that out of the way, let us introduce 6 powerful methods to increase focus in your life.

1. Exercise

Have you ever had those days when you just don’t want to go to the gym because you’re very tired, but then you end up going?

If you’re like me, then you probably felt a euphoria of energy flowing through you. The reason for this is because when you exercise, your muscle contracts and releases a protein called IGF-1. This very protein travels to your brain and releases many chemicals, one of them being BDNF. The BDNF stimulates further connections between neurons, and these connections form the basis for learning. Even though this takes some time, an immediate response to this change is increased concentration and focus.

2. Make a plan

When I say make a plan, I mean be as specific as possible.

Let’s say you want to finally start writing your book. Instead of adding “Work on novel” to the to-do list, be a little more specific. How about:

Advertising

  • Make a character list
  • Write down what the book is about in less than 150 words
  • Break down the chapters and summarize each one in a line or two

When we get specific on what our target goals are, our attention is invested in accomplishing these small tasks. As our beautiful brains have it, they can only handle two complicated tasks at a time, so why not make them focus on the specifics instead of broad concepts?

3. Discover your most productive environment

The relationship between your brain and you is interdependent. If you want a peace of mind and calmness, you have to treat and exercise your mind. Here, we shall focus on treating it right. You see, the environment in which you study really does affect the brain — after all, this is why coffee houses are filled with students studying.

There are many factors existing in the environment that end up affecting our focus — noise, smell, music, appearance, and comfort are some amongst many. Good and calm music, for instance, helps us be more productive as this background noise is more soothing. It’s no surprise why it’s recommended to listen to Beethoven instead of Eminem while working. To find out how other factors in the environment affect our focus, read this article by Western Governors University.

4. Wake up early

Okay, so let’s say you went for your 7 AM jog, made a specific plan, and currently are sitting at your local Starbucks, trying to work on a paper and still finding it hard to focus. Why’s that? Maybe cause the energy you are working with is minimal.

It’s said often that the reason why the greats sustain their greatness is because they wake up early in the morning and get most of the important stuff done well before the world wakes up. You see, after all that sleep your brain got, it’s re-energized and ready to help you learn new things and change the world

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “but I’m a night owl.”

Advertising

So am I, but creativity and productivity are two different things. The former is more about thinking about that one idea, for your next song or your next artwork. The latter is more about order, and that is why they are managed by two different modes of thinking: focused vs diffused.

howtowakeup5

    Productivity goes well with the focused mode of thinking wherein information in your brain enters and travels in an orderly fashion. On the other hand, creativity requires a diffused mode of thinking.

    Thus, if you’re looking to learn how to increase focus, it’s important to wake up early, as that’s when our energy levels and creativity peak.

    5. Prioritize your tasks

    This one goes without saying, as mentioned before: our brains can only focus on two complicated tasks at one time. Ever wondered why to-do lists simply don’t help you get stuff done? Because there isn’t any scheduling done. Why not try this approach: list everything you think you can achieve in one day and then number them.

    Focus on 1 and 2 (the most important) in the morning and then worry about the rest later.

    Advertising

    eisenhower-box

      Let’s say you are working in the middle of the day and you get an email that distracts you. There are two approaches to tackling this. First, you could turn off all connections to the outside world. This means no checking email. Second, you can react less.

      Those urgent urges to check your phone happen because your prefrontal cortex is tired later in the day and the limbic system is taking charge.

      6. Meditate

      We have this belief that focus is all about retaining attention. However, this leads to our minds becoming strained. What if our attention was more natural than manual? Meditation simply helps you do that. Human’s have an attention span of 8 seconds. Meditation changes the game and it helps in increasing your consciousness.

      bi_graphics_meditation

        In short, meditating helps our brain filter out the noise, particularly the distracting and negative noises. Even with 10 minutes a day, your brain can start filtering your thoughts and provide you with the clarity you need to increase your focus.

        Please share your own tips and experiences in the comments section!

        More by this author

        Sean Kim

        Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

        How to Learn Anything Fast? Take These 5 Powerful Steps 7 Best Language Learning Apps and Websites What’s the Easiest Language to Learn for English Speakers? 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 7 Best Languages to Learn to Stay Competitive

        Trending in Career Advice

        1 Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break 2 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 3 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 4 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People 5 How To Climb Up Your Career Ladder Faster Than Others In A Big Corporate.

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on May 28, 2020

        How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

        How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

        Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

        To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

        1. Digital Savviness

        As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence and to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

        Companies like Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb and more are a testament to the disruptive impact of technology and the new image of what it means to be a skilled, successful professional. Think about today’s Mark Zuckerberg versus a banker from the 90s.

        Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, like cloud applications and collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

        For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

        How to Develop This Skill

        For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

        From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will, eventually, slowly but surely garner more traffic.

        Note, however, that an increase in search traffic does not immediately imply an increase in revenue. But it’s a start for delving into customer conversion rates in the future.

        2. Financial Forecasting

        Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business and is not just reserved for the likes of listed companies providing financial guidance to shareholders.

        Largely, forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required and ways to measure success. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done when included in business plans.

        Advertising

        However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses, which could potentially result in financial teething problems. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Generally, it is easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It is a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how adjacent your operations are to what you have forecasted.

        Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

        3. Video Production Skills

        The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

        If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

        In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, by 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5]. With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Some ways to get started with using videos for your business would be:

        • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
        • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
        • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

        4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

        As far as you get into achieving endeavours on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place.

        Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout and may manifest in an unhealthy interaction between partners and employees as well.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

        Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly to maintain a balance between growth and your personal values.

        Advertising

        5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

        Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

        Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

        For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it hit the right buttons of consumers being tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from incumbent retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

        Apart from lifting off from what could have been your second-mover advantage, solidify your place with your business’ own first-mover advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region, unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that proves more viable than others. There’s always room for improvement in business from mature markets to newly emerging ones.

        6. Honing Pitches to Investors

        Stand out in a broad mix of budding entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch that can determine the acceleration of growth for your business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

        The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition and its market viability for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression and move on to another meeting.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

        You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

        Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

        7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

        In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition. From aesthetics to the body of clients you’re associated with, these contribute to how you’re perceived by prospects looking to buy.

        Advertising

        Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned to these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction. By knowing what makes your target customers tick, their values, ideals, and behavior, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to be utilized into a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

        8. Automating to Your Advantage

        The need for efficiency is often the general problem new businesses aim to resolve across all markets and industries. Assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to instill the need for it.

        Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the holistic advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

        9. Managing Millennials

        Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

        In leaner small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

        Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[8]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing t-shirts to work.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

        A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

        Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

        Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

        Advertising

        Offer Constructive Feedback

        Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

        Being constructive with feedback ensures that we don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

        10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

        Instead of proposing a business that’s ambitiously and entirely disruptive to the supply or process chain in a respective industry, foster connections with other companies that cater to the same target customers as long as they provide a different service.

        By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously through creative avenues for customers to utilize your products and services for a holistically improved user experience.

        Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

        How to Develop This Skill

        Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

        As the African proverb goes:

        “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

        Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

        More Tips on How to Succeed in Business

        Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next