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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.

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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:

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  • 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.”

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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.

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    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.

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      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.

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        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!

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        Last Updated on October 18, 2018

        10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

        10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

        When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

        Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

        People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

        These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

        1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

        Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

        To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

        Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

        When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

        Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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        2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

        Things go wrong when you run your own business.

        Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

        Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

        Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

        Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

        If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

        3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

        Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

        As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

        Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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        After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

        Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

        He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

        4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

        No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

        It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

        You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

        Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

        An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

        5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

        You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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        As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

        Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

        Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

        You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

        6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

        In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

        Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

        • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
        • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
        • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

        By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

        7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

        Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

        As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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        8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

        No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

        Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

        9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

        Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

        If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

        10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

        Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

        Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

        If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

        The Bottom Line

        Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

        Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

        Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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