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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

How To Maintain a Laser Focus And Be Productive

How To Maintain a Laser Focus And Be Productive

Do you want to accomplish your set goals? How about mastering the art of focusing like a laser so you can aim and achieve any target you want in life?

These targets or milestones could be in your personal life, business, career, finance, or relationship. They may also be for your health and wellness or spiritual development.

All of these will require new skills, strategies, and exceptional habits. However, you cannot acquire those skillsets and good habits if you have not mastered the art of maintaining a laser focus.

What Does Laser Focus Mean?

Before we define ‘laser focus,’ it is better to understand first what a laser is.

A laser is a machine that utilizes crystals or special gases to produce a light with a single color. Therefore, the key phrase is a light with a single color, not light with multi-colors.

Why the emphasis?

It is because you aim at two birds and not miss one. Just like a laser, you need to bring together all your energy and focus on one thing at a time.

It may be a great idea to multitask like Warren Buffet or Jack Ma. But the truth is that we are all wired differently.

An infographic by Rancoteur predicts that about 463 exabytes of data will be generated daily across the globe by 2025. That is the same as producing 212,765,957 DVDs daily.[1]

In the middle of this volume of data, your brain needs to process them to make critical decisions.

How Do You Help Your Brain Focus?

Steve Jobs’s advice is to learn to say NO. [2]

Focusing means less talk and more action. It means less time on social media and more time doing important things.

Maintaining a laser focus is about saying no to irrelevant data and acting on the information you already have.

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Laser-like focus means aligning your thought patterns, belief system, emotions, and actions with your goals consistently. If you want to become significant in life, you need to align with your set goals.

Stop looking at two directions at the same time, and start focusing like a laser.

Why Is Focus Important?

You may be wondering why it is important to maintain a laser focus.

Here are four significant benefits of maintaining a laser focus.

Accomplish Greater Result

No one loves half-baked results. A result that is only at 99.9% is a sign of mediocrity. You can only achieve excellence when you realize your vision to its fullest. And that requires having a laser focus.

Great accomplishments are generated by maintaining focus.

Generate Faster Results

Multitasking is a great idea. But if you want to generate results quickly, you will need to resist the urge to check your e-mail, Facebook newsfeed or other distractions every 5 minutes.

Having a laser-like focus will help you to always produce faster results on anything you set your mind on.

Achieve Consistent Results

Success is an all-the-time thing.

When you focus all your energy on one thing, like a laser that produces a single light, you will master the art of consistently generating quality outcomes.

Do to be mediocre at many things o be a master at one thing?

Enjoy Peace of Mind

A lack of direction and focus will always lead to confusion. But laser-like focus eliminates every clutter and provides you a clean sheet to work with.

3 Strategies to Maintain a Laser Focus

Here are three requirements if you want to focus like a laser:

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1. Be Clear About Your Life Vision

You should not focus just for the sake of it. You should utilize this productivity strategy to accomplish your set goals. And that means you need to be clear about your purpose.

What is your passion? What keeps you awake when others are sleeping? What drives you in life?

These refer to what you want from life and not what others want from you. Your life vision does not refer to the expectations of your parents, your boss, or society.

What do you want from life?

If you can align with your heart’s desire, you will find it easy to eliminate distractions and maintain a laser focus to see your goals come to reality.

On the other hand, if you consistently pursue things that do not make you happy, you will continuously experience burnout.

Not only that, but you will also find it harder to focus, and you will need to push yourself harder.

2. Establish Your Game Plan

Once you have gained clarity about what you want from life, the next thing is to establish a plan to accomplish it.

You may need to research, read books, or study some autobiographies depending on how complex the goal is to know the next action to take.

Do not bother trying to achieve perfection with your first plan. Just keep moving forward as you learn and adapt your strategies.

As you become more focused like a laser, you will begin to attract ideas, connections, strategies, and action steps to accomplish your goals.

3. Identify the Most Significant Tasks and Focus on Them.

Once you have established your game plan, you should now identify the tasks that are most significant to your goal.

These are the ones you need to prioritize. There will be a few crucial tasks you may not have the capability to execute, but do not let them bother you.

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Only focus on what is important – the thought patterns, habits, and strategies that offer the fastest route towards your set goals.

At this point, you should know what counts and what does not. Focus on activities that take you forward, and eliminate tasks that retract your focus.

7 Simple Habits to Sharpen Your Focus

1. Meditate

Meditation is an ancient means of managing emotions. It can relieve you of stress and anxiety. Not only that, but it can also help you focus like a laser.

Researchers discovered that people came out with a strong ability to focus after three months of meditation retreat. They also noticed an overall upgrade in cognitive functions.[3]

2. Sleep

Sleep is a no-brainer. Sleep is linked directly to some cognitive abilities, such as the ability to perform and focus.

The National Sleep Foundation confirmed that quality sleep, which is between 7-9 hours, could help you think clearly. Moreover, it also enables you to make informed decisions and remember more.

So what happens when you do not get proper sleep?

You will have reduced productivity levels. you may also become more forgetful, and you may find it hard to pay attention.[4]

3. Avoid Multitasking

While multitasking may look like a great idea, it can affect your ability to maintain a laser focus.

The American Psychological Association confirmed that constantly swapping between activities can reduce your focus as you are not giving yourself considerable time to adjust to a single thing.[5]

4. Leverage the ABC Technique

Harvard Business Review revealed that your brain is continuously distracted by internal and external elements such as sounds, thoughts, and interruptions.

One method that can help you wade through these distractions is known as the ABC technique.[6]

  • A stands for ‘becoming aware of your options’.
  • B stands for ‘breath deeply’.
  • C stands for ‘choose thoughtfully’.

Become aware of the options that are available to you by deciding whether to take heed to distractions. Then, breathe and relax while deciding on whether to focus or become distracted.

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5. Work With Natural Light

You cannot achieve optimal focus working in a windowless room lit with artificial light.

According to a study, individuals who work in offices lit with natural lights record substantially fewer headaches, blurred vision, and eye strain, all of which impede focus.[7]

6. Drink Some Water

According to research, high water intake can increase your alertness. About eight glasses of water have been recommended daily.

Does water enhance focus?

Short answer: yes.

A research conducted by the University of Westminister and the University of East London revealed that you can enhance your focus by 25% simply by drinking 300ml of water.[8]

Drinking water always also prevents dehydration and tiredness.

7. Listen to Classical Music

Music is therapeutic, especially classical music.

Why classical?

A study conducted by Stanford University revealed that people’s minds tend to wander while listening to music. However, classical music can help people to gain awareness and attention because it features several transitional points that have silence.[9]

Final Thoughts

I would advise you to pause and reflect in intervals by asking yourself if you are genuinely focused or distracted.

Anytime you are going in the opposite direction of your goals, simply bring back yourself to regain your focus.

It takes time to maintain a laser focus. But with constant practice and the application of these techniques, you will eventually learn the art of maintaining a laser focus.

More Tips to Help You Stay Focused

Featured photo credit: Stefan Cosma via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity)

What Is Block Scheduling? (And How It Boosts Productivity)

On August 6, 1991, the world changed forever when the internet became publicly available. Less than 30 years later, our lives have been irrevocably transformed. We can now learn, explore, and communicate 24/7, which is both amazing and, as we all know, hazardous to our productivity[1]. This is why the question, “What is block scheduling?” has become important.

To be clear, the internet isn’t life’s only distraction, and while productivity has become a huge buzzword in recent years, it’s simply a measure of progress: Are you doing what matters most? Actively moving toward your goals?

Author Neil Pasricha writes in Harvard Business Review[2]:

“As our world gets busier and our phones get beepier, the scarcest resource for all of us is becoming attention and creative output. And if you’re not taking time to put something new and beautiful out in the world, then your value is diminishing fast.”

Most entrepreneurs relate deeply to this sentiment. Pasricha solved his own productivity challenges by instituting “untouchable days” that shield him from texts, phone calls, meetings, alerts, or appointments of any kind. He says these focused sessions have enabled him to produce his most creative and rewarding work.

I love Pasricha’s approach, but it’s not always realistic for me. As the founder and CEO of JotForm, I need to weigh in on a variety of daily decisions, from hiring to product roadmaps to financial planning. I suspect other founders feel the same way. Yet, I do believe in the power of focused work, which is also why I recommend block scheduling.

What Is Block Scheduling?

Entrepreneurs often flaunt their multitasking as a badge of honor. After all, starting a business is a tug-of-war between competing priorities.

However, while multitasking might feel efficient, research shows that shifting between tasks can slash productivity by up to 40%. Task-switching leaves what Dr. Sophie Leroy calls “attention residue,”[3] which means we’re still thinking about a previous activity while we start the next one[4].

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Here’s where block scheduling can shine. What is block scheduling, exactly?

We usually become familiar with the concept of block scheduling in high school. You likely received a schedule with a certain number of classes per day, all blocked according to class time, each school year. This is basic block scheduling.

Also called time blocking, block scheduling is the practice of allocating large chunks of time to related tasks. For example, you might designate Mondays for meetings and Tuesdays for strategy. Teachers often use block scheduling when creating lesson plans. There are many different approaches, which we’ll get to shortly.

First, here’s why it matters. Business is essentially problem-solving. Creating strategies, writing code, developing products, and all the myriad activities that entrepreneurs tackle demand focus and minimal distractions. They’re also inherently human tasks that won’t easily be replaced by AI, which means your business depends on your ability to go deep.

Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World, said in a 2017 interview:

“Focus is now the lifeblood of this economy.”

Entrepreneurs use their minds to launch ideas and create value, so the ability to concentrate is “almost like a superpower”[5].

Block scheduling can also help you to produce higher quality work in less time. Parkinson’s Law holds that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,”[6], which is why setting time limits can deflate a ballooning task.

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How to Use Time Blocking to Boost Productivity

We all have different rhythms and responsibilities. Personalization is the key to successful time blocking, and it will require some trial and error. Here’s how to get started.

What is time blocking?

    1. Assess Your Calendar

    Evaluating your current schedule can be surprisingly difficult because few of us can accurately estimate how much time a task requires. If it feels easier, track how you actually spend your time for a full week. Note each activity—even 10 minutes of email and 15 minutes of social media scrolling between meetings.

    Once you know how you’ve been spending your time, it’ll be easier to know what to keep and what to throw out when you begin to make your new schedule.

    2. Look for Patterns

    After you’ve documented a full week, group tasks into categories. For example, you can include the following categories:

    • Administrative
    • Meetings
    • Creative work
    • Email
    • Personal time.

    You can also label tasks based on how you feel while doing them, or how they influence your energy levels on a scale from 1-10. Do whatever makes sense for you.

    3. Arrange Your Time Blocks

    Experiment with different block scheduling patterns. For example, one morning may look like this:

    • 8-9am: Respond to emails
    • 9-10am: Write up marketing proposal
    • 10-11am: Brainstorm and plan for Client A’s project
    • 11am-12pm: Meet with Client A to discuss ideas

    However, you may find that you’re more creative immediately after waking up. In that case, you’d want to move “brainstorming and planning” to an earlier slot. If responding to emails is best for when you’re feeling a little lethargic after lunch, put it there.

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    Read your emotions and abilities throughout the day to tap into what is going to work best for you.

    Ultimately, the goal is to avoid switching mental gears throughout the day, week, and maybe even the month. I realize this isn’t easy, especially for entrepreneurs, but it can be incredibly valuable.

    Spending a full day on projects you dislike, such as administrative work or meetings, might feel daunting, but blocking them into a single day can make the rest of your week infinitely more productive and more enjoyable. You’re free to tackle all the entrepreneurial challenges that get your blood flowing.

    4. Create Day Themes

    If you’re someone who has to focus on many things during a single day or week, you may find it more beneficial to create themes for each day instead of blocking up your day into individual tasks. For example, you can set Mondays as Brainstorming/Planning days, Tuesdays as Administrative days, etc.

    If you take this route, I suggest always scheduling in at least one Family day. It will ensure you make time for the important people in your life and give your brain time to rest.

    Benefits of Block Scheduling

    Once you’ve answered “What is block scheduling?” and know how to use it correctly, you’ll find that you receive many benefits. Here are just a few.

    Battle Procrastination

    If you have your schedule set and know you only have an hour to get a particular task done, it will be significantly easier to avoid procrastinating.

    For more on how to stop procrastinating, check out this article.

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    Create Realistic Time Estimates

    Once you’ve been working with time blocking for a while, you’ll learn which activities take the most/least time. You may have to adjust your schedule during the first month or so to get it right, but be patient. You’ll continue to learn to realistically estimate how much time a particular task will take.

    Develop More Focus and Attention

    When your schedule doesn’t leave much room for scrolling through social media or chatting with coworkers, you’ll find your brain is more devoted to paying attention to the task at hand. You’ll respond to the limits you set for yourself and will focus to get things done.

    Final Thoughts

    Most founders crave freedom. Yet, school schedules, jobs, and social norms condition us to work with a traditional schedule and reactive mindset. Before we know it, we’ve re-created a working schedule that traces back to the 19th century, even in our own companies. Block scheduling is not only a tool to maximize productivity; it’s a way to reclaim your time[7].

    In my 14 years at JotForm, I’ve realized that business growth means doing more of what makes the biggest impact. I don’t always succeed, but I try to focus my time and energy where it matters, and I know that busyness is not synonymous with productivity.

    If you feel the same way, give time blocking a try. Share your experiments in scheduling with colleagues and family members so they understand the changes and can support you.

    Finally, don’t worry about getting it right immediately. You may need to get under the hood of your calendar and tinker around a bit. Find what works for you, then protect your new schedule at all costs.

    More Tips on Time Management

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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