Why do we need to be able to focus?
Being able to focus and concentrate all your energies to the task at hand helps you perform them better, faster and more efficiently. When working your business either offline or online this is essential. Unfortunately there is plenty to distract you online, from mindless surfing to checking emails, checking to see if anyone has bought from you or signed up to your lists.
Being able to concentrate and focus allows you to be more creative and imaginative; you’re able to visualize the end result, making your goals more reachable and achievable.
When you are fully focused and you are able to concentrate solely on that task at hand, you’ll find your mind is not clogged with useless, unwanted thoughts that keep you from your goals. You’re not letting worries and stress rule your life and keep you from true mind mastery. You are in control in every aspect of your life.
So what exactly is focus or concentration?
Concentrating means intense mental focusing on the task at hand and giving it your complete attention.
Many sports people have learnt how to focus their attention like a laser beam, hitting the mark every time. They don’t allow themselves to become distracted or confused. And they practice this intense focusing every day. Imagine if they got distracted because just before a match or race they began to think about what they might do tomorrow or whether they had locked the back door or turned off the cooker! They’d fall apart. These people are 100% focused on what they have to do in order to succeed – and so should you be!
The average person can concentrate to a certain degree, some of the time; but for the most part, our thoughts are scattered, with our minds racing from one thought to the next, not even in a logical progression. I call that ‘mental leapfrog.’ Many times, we can’t even remember how we got to a particular thought; we can’t follow the progression in our minds.
The MerriamWebster Dictionary describes concentration as a direction of attention to a single object. We need the ability to regulate our thoughts, to point them undeviatingly in a straight course.
What keeps you from concentrating on your many tasks? The simplest answer is that life itself can prohibit your ability to focus on a task, to the exclusion of everything else. Many people pride themselves on their ability to multitask, claiming they are highly productive every day. However, that’s still a split focus. Only a part of your attention is actually on each task; you are also thinking of all the other things you must accomplish and your mind races from one thing to another, helterskelter.
So what can stop you from becoming laser focused?
Your Enthusiasm for what you are doing: If you’re enthusiastic about a project, it makes it so much easier to keep your mind on the task at hand. You’ve probably discovered that if it’s a task you enjoy, it’s easy to motivate yourself to not only start a project, but also follow it through to completion. It’s hard to focus on a job if you do not enjoy it. You have to want to do it, to be willing to start that project and be willing to do what it takes to finish it. This is why you should always make sure that when you begin to work online (or offline) that you do something that you really are passionate about. When you are passionate about something it will seem les like work when you have to “work”
Your Skills: The skills that you bring to a task also influence your ability to concentrate. The more skilled you are, the easier it is to accomplish the task and the quicker you achieve results. Knowing how to do something increases your self confidence. This is going to be very important as you will want to make sure that if you don’t have the skills to do something that you outsource, rather than persist at doing something you are not good at and getting frustrated and defeated!
How you feel: Your emotional, physical, and psychological state has a huge influence on your ability to focus and concentrate on a particular task. If you find yourself distracted because you’re worried, or feeling ill or even just out of sorts, you’ll find it almost impossible to concentrate. Your mind constantly wanders away in search of the solution for whatever it is that’s bothering you.
Where you are: Your environment also has so much to do with your ability to concentrate and see a project through to completion. Most people are highly affected by too much noise, or heat or cold, or uncomfortable surroundings; even other people can be distracting and stressful to you and your ability to focus.
Elements that can distract you:
Amount of information being directed at you: – this includes everything from sounds around you, pictures on the wall, music you are listening to etc. The more information that is coming at you the more distracted you can become.
Ability to filter: – some people are oblivious to certain types of information, in effect they have chosen to filter out certain noises and longer hear them. If I ask you to listen to your breathing you will suddenly become aware of it and may find it difficult to now filter it out. Our minds have been programmed to filter out a lot of the information we are receiving and only pay attention to what is necessary. You want to start to be able to filter out all unnecessary information that is not needed when you working on a task.
Your attention span: – each person has a different attention span. It can be between 10 minutes to 50 minutes, after that your mind begins to wander and become distracted. Once you know your own attention span plan your day into blocks of time that suit you. You will then become more efficient. Many people may say but what if I have a short attention span – the simple answer to this is break your working day into 5 or 10 minute slots and focus for those 10 minutes on a task, then move on to something else, perhaps later get back to that task. It’s important to remember that being highly focused and able to concentrate on one important event or goal can change your whole world, and bring about anything you desire. The moment you concentrate and focus on a goal, you begin to take steps to accomplish that goal. The more focused you become, the faster you will move towards completion of that goal. What will break your concentration and focus:
Distractions: – these can broken down into external (outside noise, the temperature, bad lighting etc), or internal. Internal distractions are when you begin to think you might be thirsty or that you would like something to eat. Once you begin to think about things in your mind you can become very distracted very easily. You may even find your internal critic (that voice that can give you negative advice) telling you that you are wasting your time. If you begin to loose focus then it’s time to take action – get up and begin t move, take a break, have a cup of coffee or go outside for a breath of fresh air – you must stop these negative thoughts.
Ensure you are working in an area that is free of distractions and comfortable. This will get you into a better state of mind which will allow you to focus more Make sure you know what you are doing!
At this point it’s essential to emphasize that you must know what you are doing when you sit down to do something. That seems a strange statement to make however you need to know what task you are doing and why you are doing it – what the end goal is. Knowing the wider context of what you re doing and why you re doing it is going to help you really focus – as you know what the end result is.
When is the best time for you to work?
Some people will find that the morning is the best time for them to work. For others it is night time. Whatever works for you make sure you work at the time that suits you. If you feel that you can work best late at night then use this time to work. Don’t get disheartened if some days you don’ feel that that time is the best time. This happens, when it does make sure that you move on and don’t force yourself to try to complete an article or design a site or promote your business as this will just frustrate you.
Richard Butler and Terry Telford