Where focus goes, energy flows.
Tony Robbins

The results of being focused are priceless, but it entails a lot of work. It takes microseconds to lose focus, but it will take hundreds of seconds to regain it back.

According to the research by Gloria Mark of University of California, it takes around 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds on an average) to recover from the lost focus.

And she further adds that though the people compensate for the lost time by working faster but that means extra efforts and stress. It’s definitely a high price to pay.

When the cost of losing focus is that high, you definitely need to improve your ability to stay focused.

There is a two step process for staying focused.

1. Start by eliminating the interruptions (external distractions) that sway you away from the point of focus. These interruptions may come from anywhere and are easy to spot. They can be a phone notifications or even someone coming by when you are in great desire of concentrating on a particular project. Well, if you can identify these factors, you can formulate a plan on how to minimize them till you are ready to get rid of them completely.  e.g. while working on something important, you can keep your phone on silent mode for some period.
Pomodoro technique is handy little way of staying focused and getting results.
Simply put, 25 minutes work time with 5 minutes of break is what it means. You don’t need any sophisticated tool, just use kitchen timer or the timer on your mobile phone. There are tons of Pomodoro timer apps available both for Android and iPhone. You can find similar apps for your desktop computer too.

Pomodoro Timer.
Credits: vungoctho [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

 

2. Secondly, you have to eliminate the distractions that come from within. These are internal blocks. Unfortunately, these are very hard to identify.

These distractions come from within and are of three types: perceptual, emotional and informational

a) Perceptual distraction happens when you perceive the problems incorrectly. A wrong perception can drive you away from finding the correct solution to a problem.
In this case, the solutions you find can be either ineffective or not the correct one or even both. 

b) On the other hand, emotions, if not controlled, can cloud your judgment. For instance, when someone appealing walks by when you are in a middle of doing something important, you are bound to look in that direction especially if you are attracted to that person. Other emotions like fear can make you rush into decisions or hinder you from taking risks. Emotions such as anger can make us do things aggressively without precision.
These are just a few examples of how emotions affect our focus.

c) And lastly, there are distractions owing to lack of information
How do you intend to complete a task when at the onset you know the information to complete the tasks is not there or is partially available?
One cannot trust the result, when it’s already known that complete information relating to task was not available when performing it.
So, the focus goes haywire when one gets to know there is not enough information available.

Further, good sleep and good (healthy) foods do help in focus.
Also add Exercise to your daily routine.

(Good) Habits help you focus better

If you want to improve your focus, learning new (good) habits will definitely help.

The habits become automatic responses over time. There is no conscious thought process associated. Good or bad, if it’s your habit, you are focused e.g. exercise as a habit keeps you fit, smoking as a habit hurts your health and both don’t require extra efforts to do because they are habits.
Being habit, these just become your second nature. 

The first step towards getting new habits is getting rid of the old ones. Unfortunately, because our habits run on autopilot, it’s not easy to get away from these. But, the good news is, if you want, you definitely can!

Begin with identifying all the behaviors or habits you want to change and pick any one. Yes, start with one.

Perhaps you are watching too much of TV or you are glued to Facebook. And, the smartphone is helping you stay addicted.

Now, as you have picked the one habit to change, the second step is to find the replacement.

What you focus on your daily basis is what builds you and your character in the long run.

If you do anything continuously for 21 days straight, it becomes a habit, and becomes part of you. Once you can set your goals, you can program yourself and ultimately set a path you will be making decisions on. 

Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt co-authored one brilliant book called the Power of focus. In this book, they have claimed that a successful life is nurtured by focusing our thoughts on the right things.

The book also states that the chance of you being successful depends on the way you respond to situations and the kind of decisions you make. If you make it a habit of making bad choices all the time, you will be inviting disasters that may result in a life of poverty.

If you do anything continuously for 21 days straight, it becomes a habit, and becomes part of you. Once you can set your goals, you can program yourself and ultimately set a path you will be making decisions on.

As an inhibitory control criterion, you can choose to change one or two habits that you think is slowing you down towards attaining your goals in life. For instance, you can stop smoking and opt for working out instead. This way, you will be saving your health and your money that you spend on a cigarette and at the same time get healthier and other benefits that come with exercising.

Canfield and his fellow authors have devised a process of attempting new productive habits in just three steps that are easy to understand and implement:

1. Identify your bad habits.
Be honest with yourself and identify your bad habits.
And, just start with one.

2. Find a replacement
Removing a bad habit completely leaves a void.
Chose a substitute habit that will take the place of the former one.

3. Finally, plan on the execution of the above two process.
As they say – plan the work & then, work the plan.

Your plan can include a 3-phase action:
identify a particular bad habit, learn about that bad habit, and then act on how to eliminate it using the new substitute habit.

Once you are done with one habit, you can move to another one.

Now, you have improved focus, you are ready to reap rewards!

What has been your experience with your focus (or lack of it) and how have you tackled it?