Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Friday, August 8, 2008

Five Ways to Improve Your Focus

One of the abilities that I take pride in (and to be fair, I suppose there aren't a whole lot of things that I DON'T take pride in) is my ability to really focus on certain tasks when they need to get done. In fact, I think if I had to go back to school, I'd be a much better student. In school, I rarely had the mental discipline and focus to hunker down and study for long periods.

Instead, I just relied on my super-human intelligence and devilish good-looks to get me through :) (Ok, Ok...I know looks have nothing to do with mental focus, but I couldn't resist)

But, over time I realized that their are few things I have learned and do now that have definitely improved my ability to be focused and thus more productive.

1. Set short term goals. Long term goals are great, but they go largely unfulfilled (Can anyone say "New Year's Resolutions?"). If you start setting weekly or even daily goals, the end result is much more tangible and thus much easier to focus on getting done. (BTW, I swear I wrote an entire post about this, but I can't seem to find it).

2. Prioritize Your Life. This goes hand in hand with short term goal setting. Make sure you determine your priorities in life, and start acting on them! It's much easier to focus on something that's important to you. This means you'll be banging out any high priority activities! Health and lifestyle are two of my biggest priorities right now, so I spend a lot of time and energy focusing on exercise, eating great, planning fun activities, building my career...and yes, girls.

3. Self-Impose some deadlines. One of the reasons I like making daily goals, is that they come with a built in deadline...they have to get done THAT DAY! Making deadlines and writing them down is a great way to force yourself to get things done without procrastinating.

4. Start Working out. I know it's hard to see the correlation between working out and focus, but bare with me. A lot of people who start a gym program, struggle early on and then eventually quit. They don't quit because they have any particular physical limitations. It's because they lack FOCUS!

Once you've gone to the gym for a while though, you not only have enough focus and determination to get yourself INTO the gym regularly, but your focus improves dramatically WHILE working out. You learn how to DIG DEEP and push yourself further than your initial threshold. When I'm lifting weights, my body might be screaming to stop by the eighth repetition, but I'm so focused that I'm able to do three more. Similarly, last week week I went for a 13 mile run.

I wanted to quit after six.

Actually, my BODY wanted to quit, but I was focused and wanted to go on. The last three miles were absolutely BRUTAL, but I dug deep, focused on my breathing, and plowed ahead.

The next day, my only focus was on the deep pain in my legs.

Intense exercise is a great way to practice your focus with a "mind over body" mentality. Additionally, your mind really feels refreshed after exercise, so your ready to do some more focusing!

5. Be in the NOW. I know I used to have trouble focusing on tasks because I'd always be thinking about my plans for later or about things that happened earlier. At the very least, commit an alotted time to perform the activity, and let go of everything else that has happened or might happen. Be in the PRESENT and focus on the task at hand!

*BONUS!* Combine Activities and Add Incentive. Sometimes focusing on things that need to get done isn't always fun. One way I am able to convince myself for finishing activities is by combining things I have to do, with things I like. For example, I have a lot of writing projects going on right now. By the time I get home from work and working out, I'm usually pretty tired. Sure I like writing, but admittedly, it's also tempting to sit on the couch and watch TV.

Instead, I go over to the coffee shop and treat myself to a nice cop o' java as I do my writing. I like the atmospher as well as the coffee. This provides me with an incentive (since money from these isn't immediate) to do my writing.

Plan rewards for yourself for getting things done! If you finish your taxes a month ahead of time, go buy a nice shirt! If you run an extra mile, reward yourself with a little extra dessert!

They say the best reward though, is the reward of giving. So, as you're doing these tasks with intense focus, and planning rewards to give out, keep in mind that I enjoy massages, ice cream, and exotic vacations :)

1 comment:

Marko Matador said...

Thanks. I'm gonna start using these tips NOW!