TIB #50: 5 Minutes to Fix your Focus

Written by Arno Jansen

In this post you will learn 1 powerful visualisation to help you to focus 10x better.

Anything worth achieving in life, requires long-term effort. Long-erm effort can only be put in if you can focus.

It is that simple.

If you can focus on the task at hand, you will be so much more effective in achieving your dreams in life. Whatever they may be.

Unfortunately, most people find it very hard to focus on anything for more than a few minutes. Sometimes even a few seconds. Worst of all, they blame the world for their lack of focus.

If you can’t focus, you can’t create what you want from life.

Today’s world provides many ways to distract us. We all know and love to blame:

  • Phone notifications
  • Noisy neighbours
  • Crying children
  • Social media
  • City sirens

But the truth is, that these are not the cause of your lack of focus. These are low-hanging fruit for the squirrels in your mind to latch on to.

The real problem is your inability to direct your awareness.

And no wonder, you were probably never taught how to focus in the first place.

Let’s change that today. First, we need to define “focus”:

Focus is the ability to direct your awareness to 1 thing for extended periods of time.

Thats the best definition of focus I could find. Sounds great, but what on earth does that mean?

It means that you know how to:

  1. Direct your attention
  2. To only 1 thing at a time
  3. Notice when you’re distracted
  4. Be able to redirect the attention back

Makes sense, right.

Now, where does your attention live?

Exactly: in your mind.

Imagine your mind as a dark room with a vast bookshelf

The shelves provide infinite space for:

• Your lust for cat gifs

• Love, hate, rage, sadness

• Revenue increasing strategies

• Dreams of taking a break of it all

• Your desire for the latest shortcuts or “life hacks”

• Thinking about upgrading the TV or buying a new car

Everything you keep in your mind lives on one of those shelves in that dark room.

Imagine attention is like a floating lightbulb in your mind

That floating lightbulb is always on as long as you are awake. It shines its light on the stuff on those bookshelves.

That is what your attention is: illuminating particular things in your brain. Emotions, thoughts, ideas, desires, etc.

So, to focus, you need to do two things:

• Learn to put that lightbulb in the correct spot to light what requires your focus

• Learn to put it back in that place if it starts to drift away

Focus is a skill: Practice makes perfect

There is no point in blaming or shaming yourself for your lack of focus. Focus is a skill. You have not have mastered this skill yet.

Mastering any skill requires teaching and practice.

If you have never played the violin before, would you expect yourself to pick one up and be a virtuoso?

Didn’t think so.

So, stop blaming yourself if you can’t focus very well. You have simply not learned yet. Let’s change that though.

There are 2 exercises recommend. Which one you pick, is entirely up to you. See what best fits you and your situation and give that a go.

Exercise 1: A standalone practice routine

If you want to focus (no pun intended. Ok, little bit pun intended) on practising focus, starting a practise routine

Here’s how to practise:

• Pick 1 activity to practice with

• Time how long you can do it before getting distracted

• Thats your benchmark

• Every day, do it 1 minute longer or until you get distracted

• Test again in a week or more to measure progress

You can pick reading, cooking, whatever, but pick the same thing every day if possible. And do it in the same or similar environment every time if you can at first.

You can even make this a challenge for yourself, for example: Commit to a “Focus Building Month”. Use those 30 days to commit to the daily practise routine. Tag it at the end of an existing daily routine for max efficiency.

For example, if you brush your teeth after breakfast every day, extend that routine. Add the focus practise immediately after it to increase your success rate. It will help you to stick to your commitment.

An exercise routine like this will help you practice increasing your focus. And it also helps you notice when you get distracted.


Exercise 2: Weave into every-day life

Another possible way to practise increased focus is to weave it into your day-to-day:

1. Pick one person or activity you do every day.

2. Commit to yourself to give that thing or person your undivided attention at all times.

3. You can practise this with much more, but commit to the one thing first.

4. Whenever you are with that person or do the thing, be present. When you notice your attention has drifted away, bring it back. Get that floating lightbulb back where it should it.

5. Bonus: If you pick a person, say your spouse, explain what you want to achieve, so they can help you. They may notice you’re distracted before you do.

So now what?

Keep the visualisation of the bookcase and the lightbulb in mind. That is the most important takeaway. It will already help increase your awareness .

Committing to one of the exercises helps to develop your ability to focus on a single task longer.

From there, you can start to experiment with ‘intentional environment design ‘.

Experiment how your environment influences your ability to focus. This can be different for different tasks, people and places.

For example, try:

• Noise cancelling headphones with a specific song or genre

• A specific time of the day (mornings are usually best for focussed work if you are well rested and well fed)

• Look for places to do certain tasks or meet with people. See what helps you stay focussed on the one thing you’re doing.

That is all for now. Hope that was helpful.

See you next week.

Looking to get more productive, focused, and resilient?

Join my free Focus Finder email course to transform yourself from deeply distracted to fully focused.

    Looking to get more productive, focused, and resilient?

    Join my free Focus Finder course and go from deeply distracted to fully focused.

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