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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 February 15, 2019

        How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success

        How to Achieve Goals and Increase Your Chance of Success

        Does it ever feel like the things you want to accomplish always end up on the back burner? If the answer to that question is “yes,” you’re not alone. Only about 33% of people consistently work toward their goals. In some cases, their goals may seem too lofty to accomplish, or else they aren’t sure how to make a plan for them.

        If you don’t come up with concrete steps to take toward your goals, they’ll remain dreams. There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, but being able to turn your dreams into goals you can realize will help you lead a happier and more fulfilling life.

        Luckily, you can realize almost any dream when you harness the right goal-setting methods.

        In this article, I’ll show you how to achieve goals and get closer you success.

        1. Break your dreams down into specific and measurable steps

        We couldn’t talk about goal-setting without mentioning SMART goals.

        SMART goals are specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related.

        Specific and measurable steps are so important because if we don’t know what our target it, how can we ever hit it?

        Take all those beautiful dreams you have for yourself and make them into things you can actually do. If you want to be an entrepreneur, for example, a step toward realizing your dream might be researching what you’ll need to start your business.

        Find out more tips about utilizing SMART goals here:

        How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

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        2. Have at least one clearly defined goal for every interest and role in your life

        It’s so easy to become complacent or stagnate. We often think that our careers are the only places where we need to set goals, but we aren’t only what we do.

        To make the most of your life, take the approach that you’re always learning and growing in everything you do. Anything worth doing is worth doing well after all.

        Set goals whether you’re sponsoring an activity for your child, taking up guitar lessons or trying to prove your worth at work.

        You’ll notice that this approach forces you to constantly develop new skills. It can also be fulfilling to put more focus and value into all areas of your life— not just the ones related to our careers.

        3. Align your goals with your life’s mission, purpose and passion

        Take the opportunity to do some soul-searching. What is it that you want to do with this precious life of yours?

        Anything that conflicts with your life’s purpose is bound to cause discontent. Staying in a bad relationship, doing a job that goes against your values, or maintaining the status quo just because it’s comfortable are not options for you.

        Thinking about your goals in this way can help you eliminate things in your life that don’t serve you. This frees up mental space that you can use to do the things you care about the most.

        Many of us struggle to find the time to work on our goals, but this strategy enables you to make more time.

        4. Create goals that ignite your spirit and inspire you to take action

        If you can’t be fired up about your goals from the start, they might not be good goals for you.

        The road to success is often tough. You’re going to have times when you might feel tired or discouraged.

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        You need to feel inspired enough that you’ll be able to overcome obstacles as you encounter them.

        If what you’re doing motivates you to be the greatest version of yourself, you’ll be much more resilient.

        5. Write down all your goals in specific, measurable detail

        This is your road map for what success will look like. The more you define what you want the finished product to be, the greater the chance that you’ll reach that vision.

        When you write down your goals, you’re creating a document that you can revisit to make sure you’re on track.

        When you’re in the middle of trying to achieve a big goal, it can be hard to see what’s working for you. The things you write in this step will help you stay on-message as you take your goals out of your mind and into the real world.

        Don’t just write down your goals and stash them away in a folder somewhere. Take the extra step to put them somewhere where you’ll see them.[1]

        If you have too many goals to post on your desk, write a summary or choose one or two steps to work on for the day. Just seeing them will keep them in the front of your mind.

        6. Commit to hitting each of your targets without exception

        You wouldn’t have created the target if you didn’t think it was necessary. Hold yourself accountable for taking the steps to succeed.

        You can always adapt your strategy or break your targets into smaller steps if you find that they aren’t attainable as you originally wrote them.

        Hitting even the smallest target is cause for a celebration. It’s a step in the positive direction. Your success will make you crave more success.

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        We often make excuses when we get tired or overwhelmed. Take away the option to make excuses. You will only be satisfied with the best effort from yourself.

        7. Share your goals with others to motivate each other

        There’s something so powerful about people sharing their goals and dreams with one another. Doing so gives voice to some part of us that could remain hidden (and therefore never be accomplished).

        When other people know about your goals, they can cheer you on and hold you accountable. When people share their vision with you, you can do the same for them.

        This strategy is particularly beneficial when you’re trying to develop healthy habits. Post about your workout on social media, or do a healthy eating challenge with your best friend. You’ll be less likely to slack when temptation arises, and you’ll probably encourage someone else to reach for their goals too.

        8. Set a series of daily, weekly and long-term goals, complete with starting times and deadlines

        Many goals never reach realization simply because the goal-setter doesn’t check their progress. People tend to forget what they set out to do, or their goal gets crowded out by other obligations.

        Forcing yourself to revisit your goals at regular intervals breaks them into smaller steps and it reminds you to think about them.

        Giving yourself regular deadlines for smaller tasks related to your goals also helps you reflect on your strategy. You’ll figure out what works for you, whether your timeline is realistic, and whether or not you need additional help to stay on track.

        In addition, celebrating small wins helps you stay motivated. Here’s how:

        How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals

        9. Take 10 minutes every day to imagine how great it will feel to achieve your goals

        Visualization is such a powerful tool. Some of the most successful athletes, celebrities and business people take time each day to think about how success looks and feels for them.[2] Imagining that feeling of satisfaction can be a great motivator.

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        When you do meet your goals, take some time to be grateful. Thank yourself for showing up and doing the work. Be grateful when the stars align properly to help you advance to the next step.

        It’s not just getting to the destination of your goals that matters. How you take the journey is important too.

        10. Take an action step toward reaching your goals every day

        Your goals can easily get buried in the hustle and the bustle. Even the smallest step in the right direction is still moving you forward.

        Keep chipping away at the work every day and before long, you’ll start to see those dreams come to life.

        Maybe you didn’t start your business today but you designed the logo that’s going to go on your website and business cards. Doing that task well is going to help you so much in the long run.

        Concrete actions day by day draw your dreams out of obscurity and into the realm of possibility.

        The Bottom Line

        Dreams can inspire and overwhelm us. By turning our dreams into goals that we can work toward, we increase our chances of success. Things that once seemed impossible are suddenly within reach.

        It’s time to start turning your dreams into goals and your goals into realities. Change begins today.

        More Resources About Setting & Achieving Goals

        Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

        Reference

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