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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

How To Maintain a Laser Focus And Be Productive

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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.

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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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Published on October 22, 2021

The Flowtime Technique: A Pomodoro Alternative

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The Flowtime Technique: A Pomodoro Alternative

Today, there are countless productivity techniques that claim to help you work at peak efficiency. Among them, few are more widely known and widely used than the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management system that suggests that you break down your work tasks into 25-minute chunks and take breaks in between them.

The idea revolves around the notion that most people begin to lose focus after 25 minutes of continuous work and will need a reset to remain productive. But there’s a problem with that idea: no two tasks are the same. And for that matter, neither are any two people! That means a one-size-fits-all productivity system can’t possibly be the best fit for everyone.

But there’s an alternative that provides more flexibility and allows you to customize it for your specific use cases. It’s called the Flowtime Technique, and here’s everything you need to know to use it and start getting more done.

What Is the Flowtime Technique?

The Flowtime Technique, while not as well-known as the Pomodoro Technique, has been around for some time. In many ways, it’s a direct descendent of Pomodoro. It’s the brainchild of Zoe Read-Bivens, and she thought it up as a means of dealing with some of the shortcomings she experienced while using the Pomodoro technique.[1]

She found that sticking to 25-minute work segments often interrupted her flow—the feeling of being immersed in a particular task—and ended up harming her productivity rather than enhancing it. To fix the problem, she sought to create a system that retained the beneficial aspects of the Pomodoro Technique while allowing her to get into a positive flow and stay there.

The Basics of the Flowtime Technique

To start using the Flowtime Technique, the first thing you’ll need to do is create a timesheet to help you manage your daily activities. You can do this with a spreadsheet or by hand, whichever you find most convenient. At the heading of your timesheet, include the following column headings:

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  • Task Name
  • Start Time
  • End Time
  • Interruptions
  • Work Time
  • Break Time

Your timesheet will be the primary way you track your daily tasks and establish a flow that works best for you. Once you have it set up, here’s how to use it:

1. Choose a Task

To get started, choose a task you wish to get done. It should be specific, and something you can reasonably complete in the amount of time you have. In other words, don’t choose a task like “paint my house.” Choose something like “paint the front door of my house.” If you select a task that’s too broad, you’ll have difficulty sticking with the work. So, try and break down what you’re doing into the smallest manageable pieces.

2. Begin Working on Your Task

The next step is to start working on your task. Begin by listing the task you’re going to work on in the appropriate field of your timesheet. Then, list the time you’re starting work. Once you’ve gotten started on your task, the only rule you must observe is that there is no multitasking allowed. This will help you to focus on what you need to get done and minimize any self-imposed distractions.

3. Work Until You Need a Break

You may then keep working on your listed task for as long as you like. If you feel yourself getting fatigued after 15 minutes, take a break. If you get into a productive groove, lose track of the time, and end up working for an hour straight, that’s fine, too.

The idea is to get to know your own patterns and work in segments that fit you best. If you don’t focus well on certain tasks, work on them for shorter durations. If you get absorbed in other types of tasks, maximize your output by working for as long as you feel capable of staying focused.

You’ll likely find that the longest period you’ll be able to sustain is around 90 minutes or so. This corresponds to your Ultradian Rhythm, which are the alternating periods of alertness and rest that our brains experience throughout the day.[2]

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There are plenty of case studies that demonstrate how taking regular breaks improves productivity. It’s one of the reasons that mandatory breaks are a part of the Pomodoro Technique. But there’s evidence that the less-structured Flowtime approach to breaks works just as well. One technology company that recently directed its employees to take breaks every hour as they saw fit saw productivity levels rise by 23%—with no mandate required.[3]

4. Take an Appropriate-Length Break

When you decide you need to take a break, go ahead and do so. Just make sure to write down your stop time on your timesheet in the right place. You can take a break that’s as long or short as you like, but don’t abuse the privilege. Otherwise, it won’t be long until your breaks eat up the majority of your time.

As a general rule of thumb, try taking a five-minute break for each 25-minute work period, and increase your break time proportionally for longer work periods. You should use a timer to make sure you get back to your task in the right amount of time. And when your break ends, don’t forget to record the time you’ve resumed work and list the length of the break you took.

5. Record Distractions as They Happen

While you’re working, there are always going to be times when you’ll get distracted. It may come in the form of a phone call, an urgent email, or even the urge to use the bathroom. When these things happen, record the occurrence in the interruption column on your timesheet. Do your best to keep distractions short, but don’t try and block them out.

The reason is that you’re unlikely to succeed and sometimes, the things that distract you will be a higher priority than what you’re working on. So, it’s important to deal with distractions as you see fit instead of trying to simply work through them.

6. Repeat Until Your Work Is Complete

All you have to do next is to repeat the steps above until the tasks you’re working on are complete. As you complete each task, be sure to record your final stop time. If you wish, you can calculate your total work time (and fill it in) when you finish a task, or you can do all of the math at once at the end of the day.

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All that matters is that you don’t leave any gaps in your time tracking. Your timesheets, once complete, will become an asset that improves your ability to create a work schedule that maximizes your daily output.

What to Do With Your Timesheets

Although the act of recording your work periods and break times will help you remain on-task each day, there’s another important reason you’re doing it. It’s that your timesheets will gradually begin to reveal to you how to craft an ideal daily schedule for yourself.

So, at the end of each week, take some time to compare your timesheets. You may see that certain patterns begin to emerge. For example, you might notice that your longest work periods typically occur before lunch or that there are specific parts of your day that tend to be filled with distractions. You can use this information to plan subsequent days more effectively.

In general, you’ll want to cluster your most important tasks at your most productive times. So, if you are reviewing detailed property records, for example, you can set aside time to do it when you know you’ll be able to focus without interruption.

Conversely, you should schedule less critical work at the times when you’re most likely to be interrupted while working. So if you need time to respond to emails or return phone calls, you’ll know just when to do it. This will not only make you more productive but will also eliminate mistakes in your work.

Key Similarities Between Flowtime and Pomodoro

If you’re familiar with how the Pomodoro Technique works, you may have noticed some similarities with the Flowtime Technique. As we’ve discussed earlier, this is intentional. The Flowtime Technique is specifically designed to retain three critical features of the Pomodoro Technique, which are:

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1. Precise Time Tracking

One of the reasons that the Pomodoro Technique is so effective for many people is that it creates a rigid system to facilitate time tracking. By having to split your work tasks into 25-minute segments, you become acutely aware of the tasks you have in front of you and how you’re using your time. That alone helps you to avoid wasting precious work time because you have to account for every minute. The Flowtime Technique provides this benefit, too.

2. Eliminating Multitasking

With the Pomodoro Technique, you have to choose a task to work on and use a 25-minute timer to measure each work period. This does an excellent job of keeping you on-task because you know from the moment you set the timer what you’re trying to accomplish, and you’re therefore not likely to stray onto another task.

Even though you don’t need to use a timer with the Flowtime Technique, the very act of writing down your task accomplishes the same task. Because you know you’ll be tracking your time spent working on a particular thing, you’ll tend to stick with your task until it’s complete or time for a break.

3. Facilitating Breaks

One of the biggest killers of productivity is exhaustion, and there’s plenty of data to prove that taking breaks is essential to maintaining peak work performance. That’s the real secret to the Pomodoro Technique’s successful reputation—it makes breaks mandatory and unavoidable.

The Flowtime Technique, by comparison, also insists you take breaks. It just doesn’t force them upon you until you’re ready to take one. In that way, some additional self-discipline is required to succeed using the Flowtime Technique. But if you can obey a timer, there’s no reason you can’t learn to obey the signals your body sends you when it needs a time out.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you may find success using the Pomodoro Technique. There’s a reason it’s so popular, after all. But if you’ve been using it for some time and find yourself straining against its rigid structures, you’re not alone. So, consider giving the Flowtime Technique a try for at least a week or two. You may find it’s a much better fit for your work style and that you get even more done than you ever have before.

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Featured photo credit: Fakurian Design via unsplash.com

Reference

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