Can't focus! How often do you say that to yourself? If you are like me then chances are that you can’t focus enough on important things. With all the distractions, we have every day, like social media, email, Slack and colleagues, it is hard to stay focused.
Before you lose focus on this article, read on for the 4 easy steps to stay focused:
How do you regain your focus when you can't focus?
In this article, I will give you the exact recipe which you can use in every situation to regain your focus in situations when you can't focus. So, please read on:
Those damned roadblocks why you can’t focus on your way to achieving your goals
According to the book "Driven to distraction at work: how to focus at work" from Hallowel and Kipiniak, there are 6 forces why you can’t focus at work:
- Screen sucking: email, slack and social media are highly addictive to spend your attention to, so you can’t focus anymore.
- Multitasking: everybody who thinks he is able to multitask is fooling himself! Multitasking is destroying your attention span and is one of the main reasons why people can’t focus.
- Idea hopping: instead of finishing what you started most of us are hopping from one idea to another. This is due to creative thinking mind, wandering, but first and foremost due the fact that you can't focus.
- Playing the hero: I don’t know about you, but a lot of people are fond of helping other people. This is a nice distraction from the tasks which are really important to you, of course, but it leaves you at least with the feeling that you have done something for the better. Did you really want to help those people or was it because you can't focus?
- Dropping the ball: this is most of the time the case when you are stuck and don’t know how to proceed. The easiest way out is then to do something different. Which can have its benefits of course, because it gives your mind the chance of letting the topic go and therefore create some distance, which often can lead to creative ideas to solve the problem. But more often than not, it is an easy escape which is withholding you from achieving your goals.
- Stress is also one of the reasons why you can’t focus. Read below why.
Self-Test to check if you can't focus or not
Answer each of the following statements with Yes or No to check if you can't focus or, even better, you are great at focusing:
- I feel often overwhelmed by all the ideas in my head.
- I have difficulties with planning.
- I jump from topic to topic in a conversation.
- Most of the time I have more than 5 windows open on my computer at the same time.
- I perform the best under great pressure.
- I waste too much time online.
- I tend to run late.
- I tend to overlook details.
- I’d love to help my colleagues solving their problems.
- I would be much more successful, if only I wouldn’t worry so much.
And how did you do? How much Yes’s do you have? If it is more than 4, then you are in trouble, because you can’t focus! So, read on for the tips below:
Definition of focus (aka What is focus?)
In 1956, George A. Miller published in Psychological Review an article with the title: “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information”. The conclusion is that an average human being can process 7 plus or minus 2 chunks of information at the same time. If the conditions are poor, like too little sleep, or too much stress, then the amount is earlier like 4 or so.
This means that as soon as distractions fill up your mind, like an idea, a telephone call, an email, a colleague, or feeling thirsty, that your original is task is vanished from your mind.
So, focus means that you hold the task at hand in your mind whatever it takes. And that you take measures to get that task back in your mind as soon as it is vanished.
For example: if you have a yellow post-it in front of you with only a short statement describing your task, then every time the task is vanished out of your mind (aka it has lost your focus), you have a high chance that it will pop back into your mind very quickly because you will see it very soon in front of you. And then you think: “Oh yeah, that was what I was doing!” The only thing you then need is a renewed decision to complete the task.
Focus is the ability to keep a task long enough into your mind, so that it gets completed. So, if you can't focus you lose track of the task which means that you are not as productive as you could be.
Why is focus crucial for your success?
If you can't focus, you probably experience one or more of the following issues:
- Unsatisfied with yourself
- Feeling not productive
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling stuck
This is of course not what you want. You want to be happy, to feel successful. You want to achieve your goals and be satisfied about yourself. That's why you need to train your ability to focus. As often and as good as you can!
With focus, you will get your control over your life back!
When you are totally focused, you will also experience a state of flow, which will make you very happy! If you are focused, you will not be distracted by your surroundings. Heck ... you will even not be distracted by your own thoughts!
So, you have all the reasons in the world to want to become totally focused, so that you don't have to say anymore "I can't focus". The only exception is in times when you want to explore new things or new ideas. Or when you want to connect with the world around you. Then it is not practical to remain your focus.
How to focus on achieving your goals?
4 step process for getting more focus
Step 1: Create a clear direction towards your goals
If you want to stay focused, then you first need something to focus on. And it better be something important, because your concentration is extremely valuable! In order to know what to focus on, you need Direction. And you get Direction by thinking … a lot! Like in photography, focus has everything to do with vision. So, the first step in creating more focus, is to create a clear vision.
People like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates spend a great amount of their time thinking about their business. Tim Armstrong (AOL’s CEO) takes this even a step further, by making his executives think about their business 10% of their day. Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn’s CEO) schedules even 2 hours of uninterrupted thinking time every day.
Why do these famous CEO’s spend so much time on thinking? Because this the best and only way to get a clear vision and gain Direction in life.
How do you think in a way that it helps you gain Direction and Focus? What should you think about?
Believe it or not, but human beings are emotional creatures. Not rational; emotional! Every decision you make, every action you take, is defined and designed within your unconscious mind on an emotional level. So, the degree of control you have over your own emotions determine how good you will be in staying focused and achieving your goals.
The better you understand yourself, your personal psychology, and your emotional hot buttons, the better able you will be to hold yourself in the right emotional state for focus, while steering clear of the negative states that render sharp focus impossible. Positive emotion, in turn, galvanizes engagement.
How do you manage your emotions so that you gain a strong focus on your goals?
If you are asking yourself why you can’t focus, engagement might probably be the key. Engagement and motivation are the highest when you are in the sweet spot of:
- What you love to do
- What you are very good at doing
- What they will pay you for to do
By the way, this does not mean that you can never explore new things and be creative. Of course, you can! Because you should always explore yourself. But … the majority of your time should lie in this sweet spot and if you try new things it must add up to your goals.
How do you move yourself into your sweet spot, so that you gain engagement and motivation, so that you gain a strong focus on your goals?
If you can’t focus, chances are that you are not in control of your time. If you don’t control your time, your time will control you! In essence time is what makes us equal. It doesn’t matter if you are Bill Gates, Elon Musk of yourself: everybody has exact 24 hours per day. So, why does one person creates more joy, wealth and happiness in his life than someone else. It has nothing to do with the amount of time available, but it has everything to do with how you control your time. Curious thing is though that no one would dump $120 into the garbage. But unfortunately, almost everyone is dumping 120 minutes every day … without even noticing we’re doing it!
How do you take control over your mind and consciousness attention?
Pro Tip: get FREE music to help you gain focus
For you my dear reader I have a special gift: background music to help you gain more focus. Playing this music in the background of what you are doing will help your brain getting into an alpha state of mind which makes you more creative and alert and ... focused!!
I have made 4 music tracks (mp3-files) with background music which you help you to stay focused. There are 4 mp3 files of 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes of music.
You can download them for FREE here.
So, go get the Focus music and start training with the first track of 5 minutes. This is the process:
- Decide on which task you want to focus on for 5 minutes long.
- Decide that you won’t allow any external or internal distractions.
- Prepare everything that needs to be prepared, like pen and paper, Excel open, or whatever your task is.
- Start the music and start working on the task.
- Only stop working on the task when the music has stopped.
Repeat this process like 10 times every working day and gradually over time extend the focus sessions to 10, 15 and 20 minutes.
The idea is that you can train your focus. The only thing you have to do, is train, train, train. That’s all!
I wish you lots of success in empowering yourself by increasing your focus! Please, tell me in the comment box below if this helps and what your experience is in getting control back over your life, by increasing your focus.
If you can't focus on what's important then you are lost in a sea of distractions. So, make sure that get control over your life back by training your ability to focus and your ability to concentrate. Follow the 4 steps above and train yourself every day!
Can't focus? Get control over your life back and start re-focusing!
Be aware that the critical success factor for optimal focus is, that you are in rapport with yourself. To help you gain more focus in your every life, you can use the special focus music I pulled together for you. You can get it here for FREE!
Please leave a comment below by telling us how you are focusing on what's important to you.
Thank you already in advance for sharing your thoughts and insights!