FOCUS: What Makes it a Hidden Superpower
The world we now live in is so full of distractions that one might have a hard time imagining a way of life without it. It has been so ingrained in our modern culture in the form of notifications, tons of emails, videos, and the likes competing for our attention. It is so easy to lose ourselves in the tedium of daily life. It has become extremely easy to be distracted by our own thoughts.
A life without FOCUS
One could be onto a task on one tab, with Facebook open on another, while YouTube plays in the background. When a Facebook notification pops up, the individual inadvertently checks the notification, reads the comment section of what notified him and got his attention, and then proceeds to move on to the next recommended topic. All in all, he will tend to forget the task he has been doing. This is an all too common pitfall for all of us. As it increasingly becomes our common way of life, we are taught to have destructive habits that derail us from what we need to do.
The benefits of FOCUS
Having the ability to single-mindedly do one task without being distracted by another is in itself a superpower one must struggle to achieve and master. The acute and willing hop into madness comes with the rise of an inadvertent superpower: Focus. The ability to place oneself on a task without being distracted can change how our daily life revolves. Allow us to share some benefits that focus affords us.
More experience learned per activity
The ability to focus allows us a greater degree of learning from whatever task we have on hand. It ensures that we are capable of absorbing what we can learn from whatever we are doing. For example, while I was writing this article, I allowed myself to be free from distractions. No social media. No music. No food, at least until I'm done writing. As I went through this article, I can see myself doing better things on-adjustment a basis, often revising sentences that I felt could be better expressed with certain keywords. That is the beauty of Focus. It allows me to just see whatever is in front of me and write about it. The focus I afforded this topic allowed me to write without interruption. The momentum propelled my ability to absorb the value of the task on- hand.
When we are distracted, or when we have many tasks at hand it becomes increasingly hard to deal with all of them, and we need to understand how to prioritize the things that matter, and those that don't. Having a sharp focus allows us to decide which activities would be deemed important, zone in on them, and finish them to completion. The ability to manage time also adds up to our general well-being in that we are capable of maximizing the energy we spend every day. Instead of wasting our efforts on time-wasters, we zoom in on what's important, complete it and go to the next task available. There would be no shortage of work to be done and there is work to be done every day. By focusing on what is important we get the most effective use of our energy and time.
3. Better time management
Once we are free from distractions, we allow ourselves a degree of control over the next few minutes, even hours of our life. We live in the present, the future, and the past being intangible concepts self-evident in our daily life. This may be true, but by focusing we allow ourselves a certain degree of control over this span of time. For example, if a man decides to clean his room, and he gives himself 1 hour to do so, he puts that time on a promise bound by focus. That uninterrupted span of time becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where he finishes a task, he finds difficult, which is cleaning his room. Such is the power of focus. Focus gives us the benefit of single-handed commitment, that which allows us to create for ourselves spans of time where we only have our minds set on a single task.
4. The utilization of the Flow state and the subconscious
Oftentimes we don't get to tap into our subconscious mind and instead rely on our active thoughts to do our activities. However, with a single-minded focus, we may very well tap into our subconscious and achieve what is called the “Flow” state. It is said that this is how one would feel when he or she is completely immersed in an activity. A sense of timelessness envelops the individual, and his only thoughts are hyper-focused on a task he has at hand. With this he allows himself to complete the task without any interruption, or may it be that all interruptions cease to distract him from what he needs to do. It is like riding a bicycle on a straight solitary road. Free from the distractions of incoming traffic, one would go faster and faster until the state of one's mind is only ever focused on the task at hand. In this situation, one has achieved the state of Flow, a natural state where an individual finishes the task to the best of his ability by utilizing his full potential at that given moment.
5. No such thing as being overwhelmed
Doing many things at once will ultimately make us feel overwhelmed. When it feels like we have more to do than our two hands the feeling increases and makes us feel anxious. This anxiety due to having too many things at once is in itself debilitating, prompting us to feel like we need to reduce them. By taking in only one task at a time with an absolute focus one allows himself to set up a natural chokepoint for tasks, and “kill” each task one at a time. This in turn allows individuals to more efficiently handle single tasks, and move on to the next one. In conjunction with energy efficiency, one can go on about his tasks with little downtime in between because whatever he is doing now does not exhaust him. He is not spent at the moment but instead is spread all throughout the tasks he is given.
Recommended ways on how one can achieve FOCUS
Map it out with small lists
By creating a checklist of tasks you can sort out the important and unimportant stuff. Do note that we are saying this on assumption that you are beginning from a really distracted phase in your career. By creating a list of tasks, you can map out and visually represent what requires your attention, and what doesn't. The list can be as simple as this:
Create a write-up
Check for response emails
Respond to emails Etc.
A simple checklist such as the following would afford you a high-level overview of what you need to do in any given workday, and in turn work on the most important parts of the day.
2. Train your brain
You would want to visualize your brain as a work in progress, and not as a tool that is already perfect. Perhaps you can currently focus on very short spans of time. If today you are capable of focusing for one minute, and tomorrow you managed two, congratulations! You are currently on an upward trend. With this in mind, as you keep going you will inevitably increase your uptime and increase your productivity all the same. Consistent repetition will allow you to train your brain to focus for longer periods of time.
3. Have “breathers”
Let's call rests and breaks “breathers”. Of course, you don't need thirty-minute breaks for every minute spent working on something, however by creating periods of time within the work schedule you allow yourself to recover the energy you spent while on focus. You have a window of time where you should not feel guilty of being distracted or looking at otherwise distracting activities during the time when you need to focus. By putting a compartmentalized system in place, you allow yourself to create a span of “free” time where you can let out your distracted energies as you recover and go back to the task you have at hand.
4. Out of sight, out of mind
By keeping a relative distance from things that will actually distract you, you allow yourself to focus just on what is in front of you. If the majority of distractions I get comes from Facebook, it serves me well if I can close all Social Media tabs, distance myself from my phone, and just open the bare necessity to work on the things that require my attention. This in turn allows me to focus just on the task available to me. Additional headway can be gained if I allow myself to create barriers for entry before I get to the apps that distract me. For example, if my phone requires a very elaborate lock before I can use it, I tend to not dabble in its affairs and leave it be.
All in all, we recommend for you to find out ways to achieve focus, as it has many more benefits that you can potentially utilize. Focus is a superpower in this modern world. Equipping yourself with it is doable as well. It takes more conscious effort but in time it becomes an instinctive part of your daily habit.