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We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.
-- Martin Luther King


The MONTHLY Motivator - November 2017


Techniques for focus

Focused work is valuable work. We live in a world exploding with information and bursting with sensations, and those things make focus a challenge. Yet with so much complexity in life, focused work is more necessary than ever. So how do you achieve focus when distractions are arriving multiple times each minute? Here are twenty simple yet powerful techniques to get yourself in a state of focus.

1. Get into action. Focus is primarily thinking. Yet to stay focused you have to do more than just sit and think. You have to make an active commitment to that thinking. That means action. If what you’re doing mainly involves thought, then write those thoughts down, speak them, record them in some form. Give your thoughts a physical manifestation. That will increase your focus. It will keep your thoughts from wandering too far off.

2. Suspend the need for judgment. Guess what? You don’t have to make a judgment about every little thing that happens in live, or about every scenario you imagine. While you’re doing focused work, other stuff will happen. But you don’t have to let that other stuff get to you. You can notice it. You can then quickly let it go and get back to what you’re working on.

3. Get your ego out of the way. Don’t make it all about you. In fact, the less you focus on yourself, the more you can focus on what you’re doing.

4. Be happy. That sounds like an odd technique for focus, yet it can be powerful. When you are unhappy, you spend an enormous amount of time and thought dwelling on your problems. Happiness frees you from all that. Happiness gives you a pleasant, positive space in which to focus, free of distracting thoughts.

5. Be clear about your purpose. You are not focusing just for the sake of focusing. There is some objective, and you must keep yourself connected to that objective.

6. Welcome the distractions. This may seem very strange to contemplate because distractions can destroy your focus. But the distraction itself is never what hurts your focus. What breaks your focus is your reaction to the distraction, all the things you do in response to it. When you obsess over the distraction, that’s when it ends up getting you off track. So just decide that you will welcome each distraction. That gives you power over it. When you can welcome it, you can also let it go. So notice the distractions, welcome to distractions, smile about them, laugh at them, and then get quickly back to what you were focusing on.

7. Deal with your problems and responsibilities in a timely fashion. If there are a lot of things hanging over your head, things you must do that you have not done, you’ll make it almost impossible for yourself to focus on anything else. Get those other things taken care of first. Deal with them. Sure, some problems are ongoing, and you can’t quickly get them out of the way. So make sure you’ve done all you can for the moment. Then you’ll be able to focus.

8. Set aside a specific amount of time. Yes, it’s good to have long periods of time you can devote to focusing on your work. That’s not always possible. Even so, you can still get yourself intensely focused for the amount of time you do have. The key is to commit yourself to it. Decide you’ll spend the next hour, or the next six minutes, in a state of focus, doing what you’ve chosen to do and avoiding all else. If things are going good and you’re willing and able to continue going, then extend that period by setting an additional specific period of time.

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--Ralph Marston

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