Improve your ability to focus

In this overstimulating digital age, things distract us all day long, seriously damaging our attention span. It can feel like you have so many ideas, yet so little time to make a positive change in the world.  You can make your time count by being more focused, but how can you actually improve your ability to focus?

In my line of work, the ability to focus is crucial.  I work with multiple clients, and when I am working on a task, I need to be giving that client 100% of my focus.  I can’t have ideas popping into my mind for somebody else when I am supposed to be busy working for you.

Fortunately, I find that focusing on client tasks comes naturally to me.  But there are other areas in my business and my life where my focus could be better.

In my quest for Kaizen (constant betterment), I came across this inspirational TEDx Talk which you should watch if your focus could be better too.

Can boredom improve your ability to focus?

In the video, Chris Bailey talks about experimenting with boredom to reduce the level of stimulation in your brain.  

I find this really interesting.  As a business owner I am guilty of checking my emails when I have a moment to spare.  Standing in a queue.  Waiting for an appointment.  Letting the kettle boil. 

But when we do that, Chris explains, we are not letting our minds be free to wander. To make plans, let ideas form and have those thought processes that can only come when we disengage from concentration.

Transitioning from the digital and back into the physical world can feel ‘boring’, but it is just a case of our brains taking the time to adapt to a lower level of stimulation.  Reconnecting with the physical world is also a powerful way to reduce our levels of stress.

Water droplet in focus

A case of double standards?

When I am working for clients, I actually find it very easy to focus entirely on their tasks.  I do not seek distraction or let my attention wander.  My phone goes on silent and in another room.

But when I am spending time on my own business development tasks, I have to confess that my attention span becomes a lot shorter and my ability to focus can wane.  

My brain becomes overstimulated thinking about everything I aim to achieve and the difference I want to make to the world. Planning how I will get there, and all that I want to learn along the way, can send my mind into overdrive.  

And my phone?  When I am working on my own business, the phone is often close by.  I don’t afford myself the same courtesy that I afford my clients by keeping my phone out of sight and earshot. 

Challenge accepted

So, the game is on.  In his video, Chris set a challenge and I have chosen to accept.

For two weeks, I won’t look at my phone to avoid ‘boredom’.  If I am standing in a queue, walking back from somewhere or waiting for the kettle to boil, I will allow my brain to become less stimulated.  Who knows what’s on the other side of boredom?  I can’t wait to see what I find.

I’ve even decided to go one further with this challenge.  For two weeks, I am going to treat myself like a client.  I will approach every task on my own list with the same clarity and commitment I give to clients.  I’ll say in advance how much time I will spend on the task, and record it.  And, while I am working on my own list, my phone can stay away for a bit longer.

Is this something you could do too?  

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if any of this resonates, and if you have resolved to take the challenge too.  Let me know how you get on!

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