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8th April 2010
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12th May 2010
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My 5 Top Tips to Help you Stay Focused

Living in such a busy world it is ever increasingly difficult to stay focused on the task in hand.

Being able to focus and concentrate on a single task has many benefits. It often ensures a better job, it can  often be completed quicker, it will help to prevent errors or mistakes and other things aren’t compromised either.

So here are my top 5 tips to help you concentrate and use the power of F.O.C.U.S.

F = Five more rule
There are two kinds of people — those who have learned how to work through frustration, and those who wish they had. From now on, if you’re in the middle of a task and tempted to give up — just do FIVE MORE. Read FIVE MORE pages, make FIVE MORE calls, work FIVE MORE minutes.

Just as athletes build physical stamina by pushing past the point of exhaustion, you can build mental stamina by pushing past the point of frustration.

Just as runners get their second wind by not giving up when their body initially protests, you can get your “second mind” by not giving up when your willpower initially protests. Continuing to concentrate when your brain is tired is the key to S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G your attention span and building mental endurance.

O = One thought at a time
Overcome the temptation to think about lots of other things to be done and make your mind a deal it can’t refuse. Yes, the mind takes bribes. Instead of telling it NOT to worry about other things right now (which will cause your mind to think about the very things it’s not supposed to think about!), assign it a single task with start-stop time parameters.

For example, “I will think about how to pay off that credit card debt when I get home tonight. For now, for the next 2 hours from 08:00-10:00am, I will give my complete focus to speaking to the potential prospects at this networking event.”

Still can’t get other concerns out of your head? Write them down on your to-do list so you’re free to forget them. Recording worrisome obligations means you don’t have to use your brain as a “reminder” bulletin board, which means you can give your undivided attention to your top priority task.

C = Conquer procrastination
Don’t feel like concentrating? Are you putting off a task or project you’re supposed to be working on? That’s a form of procrastination. It’s amazing how long it takes to complete something we’re not working on.

Next time you’re about to postpone a responsibility ask yourself three simple questions

  1. Do I have to do this?
  2. Do I want it done so it’s not on my mind?
  3. Will it be any easier later?

These three questions can give you the incentive to mentally apply yourself because they bring you face to face with the fact this task isn’t going away, and delaying will only add to your guilt and make this onerous task occupy more of your mind and time.

U = Unavailability – Remove all outside distracters
Even one distraction can bring your house of cards down, so be complete about this. This means:

  • Tell possible distracters in advance that you will be unavailable
  • Clear your desk. If you need to, clear it all off into a pile on the floor to deal with after you are done.
  • No internet or computer programs open that are unnecessary for your project.
  • No TV or Radio unless it is instrumental or unless you are doing art work and you work best with music.
  • No noise. If you have other people nearby that make noise on a regular basis, consider getting a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
  • No phone. That’s what voice mail and caller id are for. Don’t answer it. If you think it might be important you can listen to the voicemail and decide when will be the best time to call back. Imagine that you are in a meeting and can’t be interrupted.
  • No email.
  • Just you and your project.

S = Stay positive and saviour the success
Having a postive mental attitude in all things is (as we all know) important. Check your own PMA when you start your activity and ensure you have a good attitude towards it. You have decided it is where you are going to spend your time right now, so you might as well enjoy the process too, yes? Having the rightpositive attitude before you start is critical., if your are not in a good space, regroup and work on that attitude and mindset first.  And remember your attitude is a choice you make, not an outcome. so choose to be positive.

Look back at your accomplished tasks and celebrate in some way. After accomplishing each and every task, reflect on it and be proud of yourself. Do another game plan for tomorrow and then call it a day. Go on and do something that you find pleasurable.

  • Have a favourite cake in the fridge lined up with your name on!
  • You can visit your spa for a relaxing massage
  • Watch a movie
  • Go for a nice walk or visit the gym
  • Treat yourself to a tasty dinner at your favourite restaurant
  • Visit someone you have missed because you focused on what you needed to do today.

Just do whatever it takes to ease up your mind and relax your whole system–you deserve it for a job well done.

3 Comments

  1. Susan Cowe says:

    Cheers Ian, we know all that and promptly forget it, until we get reminded again, so thanks!

    I may well try to reread it for a couple of weeks or so, again and again.

    Susan and Herb

  2. Luke says:

    Excellent reminders!

  3. SS Bazinet says:

    Excellent reminders, thank you! I’ve also found that people are so busy with working on a project, etc, that they forget to create a life. A major component is left out of the picture. We came into the world knowing only us, but we quickly forgot who we are. I surrendered to the ‘fun’ of being me and became elated when my life turned around. I couldn’t NOT focus on writing seven days a week. I couldn’t stop dancing and going for 3 mile walks! Everything became a joy!

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