The Power Of Focus

We live in an age where we are constantly distracted by the environment around us.
Our phones constantly buzz for meaningless Facebook notifications.
Our TV’s scream with stupidly loud commercials.
Without realizing, we’re making our brain get used to this constant distractions, reducing the time we’re able to focus on a specific task. Our attention span dramatically decreases because we’re always expecting a break or to be interrupted.
And as we all know, being focused is essential in skill learning and in any activity you do throughout your day.

But there’s hope.

I believe that focus, just like willpower, is a skill that you can learn and develop. And considering the advantages that a focused mind can bring you, it’s well worth the effort.

“‎The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

But first, what’s the meaning of focus?

The laser metaphor is often used to explain its meaning:
If you deliver power to a light bulb, it will throw “light” in every direction, and, in turn, that energy will bounce around and lose itself.
But if you deliver the same amount of power to a laser, and you aim it to a sheet of steel, you will be able to pierce it, and cut it in a fraction of a second.

Our brain works the same way.

If you try to focus on many different things at a time, you’ll never be able to maximize your potential on each individual task. Your energy and attention will scatter, losing its true power.
But if you focus all your energy on one single task or objective, you’ll be able to harness your total brain power and achieve your goals faster and also more efficiently.

And how can you improve your focus?

Learn how to stay calm

meditation gif


Meditation has long been proven to be one of most efficient methods to calm yourself and improve focus. Don’t fall into the mistake of thinking that meditation is only used for spiritual or religious reasons. There are many types of meditation.

For example, the US Navy Seals teach a technique for calming yourself down called “Combat Tactical Breathing.”

Try to do this exercise before the execution of any task or whenever you feel frustrated or anxious:

  • Inhale for 4 seconds (as the circle expands).
  • Hold your lungs full of air for 4 seconds (as the circle stays fully expanded)
  • Then exhale for 4 seconds (as the circle shrinks)
  • Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds (as the circle is contracted)

You can find more info about this technique and much more here.

If you’re new to meditation I suggest you to start with this book: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
It was by reading it that I became less skeptical about meditation.

Bonus Tip:   Another exercise you can use to practice your focus is to try to keep your eyeballs still. Just find any random object and focus on it without moving your eyeballs. Try it!

Clean your workspace

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash
Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Having a clean desk can have a great impact on the quality of your work. We are unconsciously influenced by our environment, so if you have a desk job, it is vital to keep it clean daily.

For example, I work as a programmer and I can clearly notice the difference between the code I wrote when my desk was clean and when it was not.

Of course that the reason for the code being well written wasn’t the desk being clean, but it was the sum of all the good habits and routines I had during that day. It just happens that a clean desk was one of them.

Everything is connected.

The same thing goes for your software and files. Keep things organized and clean.

Distractions during the day are inevitable. Find your quiet time.

Let’s face it.

During the day, it’s very difficult to find a place where you can be totally free from distractions and interruptions.
It’s either your family calling you, your friends inviting you to go out, or your annoying neighbor asking for something.
The only way to go around this is to either isolate yourself completely like a hermit or just work when other people are sleeping.
It could be at 6 in the morning or late at night, it doesn’t matter. Test both and see which one better suits you.