It is day 10 of the 12 days of coaching. And today’s topic is focus.
Hi, I’m Phil Sherwood, your high-performance coach. Today’s topic is focus and why is that important?
Let me ask you a question or a couple of questions. What could you accomplish if you were able to increase your focus 10 times? If you had 10 times the focus you do now? How would your productivity go up?
How would your relationships improve?
How would your business improve?
Focus is really, really important.
Now, what is focus?
When I think a focus, I think of a story from when I was in middle school, I remember my science class, which was my favorite class, because we were always doing experiments, we were doing hands-on stuff. And the teacher brought out a magnifying glass. And it was really cool because we could look at an object and then we could look at it under the magnifying glass. And we can see a lot more detail in whatever we were looking at. So focus allows you to see a lot more details.
Now the second thing I noticed about the magnifying glass was there was a sunbeam coming in the window and hitting my desk. And as I held the magnifying glass there and, and got that Sunbeam to hit it, my paper started smoking on my desk. So I quickly pulled it away because I was starting a fire, which was kind of exciting for a middle schooler. So I “borrowed” the magnifying glass during the lunch recess and took it outside.
And man I did I have a lot of fun, starting some tires, in the leaves, and things like that. Of course, this was way back when I would have been kicked out of school in a heartbeat today.
But the thing is, focus is so important, being able to see the details being able to concentrate your energy, that’s what it was doing for the sun is it was concentrating the sun’s energy on a particular point.
So when we talk about focus, we’re talking about concentrating our energy, our mental energy on a particular task, or a particular person. If it’s a conversation, whatever it is, you’re concentrating, you’re, you’re concentrating your energy, your attention on something.
Now, when we talk about concentration, either the problem really isn’t concentration, when it comes to tasks that we have to do, is it?
Now the problem is not with concentration, it’s with deciding because there are so many options around us.
You know, when we start our days, we pick a list of priorities where we have a to-do list and it might be 10 things long. And that’s because we can’t decide what we’re going to work on. We see lots of opportunities of things that we want to get done. And we put them on our to-do list.
Well, the other problem is distractions. We get distracted, so easy today! My favorite part of a movie was from the movie Up! with the dog that had the collar on where he could talk. And he would be sniffing along and looking for something and all of a sudden it would be squirrel!
And that’s how we are. We get distracted so easily. So one thing is notifications.
How many times do you get distracted by notifications? Do you have notifications turned on on your phone for social media? Do you have notifications turned on for email for other apps? Is your phone pinging all the time trying to get your attention?
Why is that? Why do we need to be notified of every email that hits our inbox? Why do we need to be notified when somebody likes a picture of spaghetti we posted last night. I think about it.
One of the best ways to get rid of distractions is to turn off all notifications on your phone, especially during a workday. Your employer would really really appreciate that. Just turn all notifications off on your phone.
A lot of times people say put your phone in another room. If you’re working from home as most people are these days. That’s an option. You can put it in another room as long as you turn off the ringer so you can’t hear the notifications going off. Or just turn off the notifications you don’t really need to hear, when every little thing happens, do you? That’s one way to get your concentration back.
The other way is when you sit down to work on a task. In my case, I’ve got three monitors here. So I have things of different applications up on each of my monitors. And if I don’t close down each of those other applications, when I want to work on a particular thing, then I can easily get distracted by seeing what’s happening on Slack, or checking my email to see if anything’s come in.
You know, our mind always wants to be busy and, and it can really be busy by concentrating on a particular task. But only if you get rid of all the other options.
Because we like novelty, we like new things. So if you’re looking at something, and looking at it for, you know, minutes, hours at a time, your mind can get tired of that thing and look for some novelty. And that’s one reason we love to hear those notifications come up, because it’s something new. And in our brain, it’s like a hit of dopamine, which that’s a whole nother conversation about social media.
But the other thing is multitasking, we think we can do multiple things at the same time. And we can, but we can only concentrate on one at a time. So if you want to do a really, really good job on a particular task, and you want to get it done quicker then cut off the multitasking.
And one way that I’ve done to cut out multitasking, and it’s a trick, you’ve heard of Pomodoro Technique, if not look it up. But it’s just about time blocking, setting aside, like 25 minutes at a time, 15 minutes at a time, an hour at a time that you are going to concentrate on a particular task. And what I’ve got is I’ve got this little time block here. And I can pick any side of this, which gives me a set amount of minutes. And when I turn it over, it’s going to start a timer. And then when that amount of minutes is up, the timer goes off. And that time block is done. Which is really, really good.
If I want to work, say 45 minutes on a particular task, I can set my 45 minutes side, turn it over and go for it. And the rule is I can’t look at anything else. I can’t check email, I can’t check my watch. I can’t check my phone, I need to stay concentrated on that task. And then once that 45 minutes is up, I can take five minutes, I can get up and stretch, get a drink of water. I can check email if I want to reward myself for being able to concentrate.
So there’s a lot of different ways that you can improve your concentration. We talked about meditation in another day’s topic. But that is really one of the best ways to increase your focus, being able to swat away all the other distractions and being able to say no to all the other things that vie for our attention so that we can focus on the task at hand.
Focus, it is so important. So that’s what I’ve got for today. Increase your focus.
I will see you tomorrow.