If you could remain focused for a long stretch of time, say from 8 AM to 5 PM, how much would you accomplish? How much further down the checklist would you be? Would there even be a checklist anymore?
Or would you have taken over the world by now, with your incredible newly focused mind, subjecting all checklist’s to a pit of fire?
Personally, I think my life would be much, much better if I had that sort of focus.
Maybe nine hours of uninterrupted focus is a stretch. Perhaps even five hours is a bit too much, as is an hour of tunnel vision. But maybe we can find a compromise, maybe if we begin small.
Today there’s an ongoing battle for our attention. A notification from Eli vibrates on the table, then another from Izzy. From across the room a commercial both on hair loss and ED tug on your ear, you need it, or else.
Worst of all, your little sister wont stop bragging about her nails. You don’t understand her excitement. Fortunately by now she’s fairly easy to ignore.
Distractions Are Everywhere
Some are good, like when you need to get your mind away from something terrible. Others not so much.
When my phone vibrates, nothing else matters, so I try to keep it far away. Sometimes I consider mailing it off to my brother for a few weeks. Then I experience a sudden anxiety attack.
I could never do such a thing.
Some Days Are Harder Than Others.
If you feel like your phone is robbing you of your focus, toss it under the mattress, hide it in the closet, or ask if someone you trust to hold it for you.
If you’re to be engaged in focused work and you have plans to attend to afterwards, do exactly that– focus on your work first, attend to your plans when you’re done.
Focus on one task at a time.
On rare occasions nothing can break my focus. I’ll finish said assignment even if an alien invasion is taking place in my backyard.
Other days I can hear water drip in the kitchen sink, I’ll toss aside whatever I’m working on and rush to investigate the noise. I drop everything as if humanity cannot risk another unexplained drop of water.
The mystery continues…
Music Instrumentals Help
I keep an instrumental running in the background. Music with no lyrics help me remain organized, which in turn helps me writer clearer.
And of course a cup of coffee– black with no sugar, and enough to sip on for an hour or two. Don’t overdo it though, and try not to drink after 12. You may find it harder to sleep and unintentionally stagnate your focus the next day.
Free Yourself Of Distractions
If I’m upstairs my phone is downstairs, tucked away in a drawer by the fridge and on silent. Though sometimes I’ll plug in my headphones, put some music on and set it to do-not-disturb.
The only noise I want to hear are my fingers pressing against the keyboard, or study music streaming through YouTube, perhaps a dose of lo-fi hip hop or relaxing jazz music.
All I should be doing is working when I’m at my desk. No texting, no mindless Youtube videos, no eating, no breathing– Okay, maybe not that extreme.
The rest can wait, as it should, because the last thing I need is another distraction robbing me of my minutes, and replacing it with fluff.
Keep what you need, close by
For me, this includes, water, coffee, laptop, and enough pen and paper to write a novel.
That being said, yes, I’m fully aware that coffee can cause dehydration. It’s a risk I’m willing to take, because coffee is life.
Depending on the time of day, I’ll peal open a banana or unwrap a protein bar if I’m hungry. Some days I would prefer not to eat while writing, other days I’ll be lucky to get anything written on an empty stomach.
In other words, keep the essentials close by. This way you won’t have to switch frequencies as often. If you’re your in the zone, remain in the zone.
Sleep More to Focus Better
If there was one thing I’d want you to take out of everything here, It would be to get some rest. The better rested you are, the more focused you’ll perform.
I notice something interesting. I’m far more creative at night, but at the cost of my focus.
I’ll have hundreds of ideas to write about, so I jot them all down, but that’s as far as I get. If I wanted to bring these ideas together, they’d have to wait till the next day.
There’s no other way.
The better rested I am, the higher my chances of sitting my ass down and getting something written that day.
Outline Your Day
Like a map, an outline gives us direction, a plan of action, a light to illuminate our next step or the roads we can take if we so choose.
This one is a bit different, in that it mostly applies to the writer. Still, I think you’ll find that you can still use a similar approach to other areas in your life that require structure.
There are rare moments when I can open up a blank page, and write whatever it is on my mind, and feel that somehow I can make a post out of it. Unfortunately, most days you’ll find me staring at the cursed cursor, watching it mock me with each blink, “You suck,” blink “still suck,” blink “yup, just as I suspected, you suck even more now,” blink.
Whenever I’m stuck, I know I should either elaborate on the topic or move on to the next. The same goes for the other routines that make their way into my day.
Bed fixed, Laundry done, but perhaps the dishes could use some re-rinsing.
It helps me stay focused and know where I need to move next. Without it I would blindly stumble into the next item on the list, and with my fingers crossed, knocking on wood, praying that whatever I’ve written makes sense.