Because of the fast-paced, instant gratification world that we live in, our ability to focus deeply for long periods of time is quickly diminishing.
According to research by Harvard, we spend 47% of the day in a state of semi-distraction. That means that, if we can learn how to focus much better, we can literally double our productivity. Furthermore, according to RescueTime, we check email 55x times per day and instant messaging at least 77x per day.
And, to top it off, a study by Gloria Mark showed that, on average, employees spent only 11 minutes on any given projects before being interrupted.
All in all, we are being wired more and more for distraction and our ability to focus is rapidly declining.
Yet, your ability to focus deeply for long periods of time is incredibly important. Whether you’re coding a new app, writing a book, crafting a report or working on a business strategy, you need to be able to sit still and focus on your important task without getting distracted in order to produce the highest quality work in a time-efficient matter.
As the ability to focus is extremely valuable, yet much less common, it becomes an increasingly rare skill. This means that those who are able to stay focused in our distracted world can expect to be rewarded disproportionally.
Personally, I’ve literally increased my business profit 4x ever since I’ve applied a daily 2-hour deep work session in my workday — in which I’m able to create the same amount of value as I used to create in 8 hours…
That’s why, in this article, I’ll share 5 simple ways that you can boost your focus today so you can start to produce higher-quality work in less time.
Focus Booster #1: Remove All Possible Distractions Beforehand
Distractions are the number one enemy of your ability to focus. Especially distractions in the form of your smartphone, social media, email and news websites — but also distractions such colleagues or inner chatter — are detrimental to your ability to focus.
The key to focus deeply is then to eliminate these distractions before you start working. When you fail to do so, they will pop up during your work, which is terrible for your focus mainly because of two reasons:
- You’ll need to use your willpower in order to fight off these distractions. As willpower is a limited resource (proven by science), this is a battle that you’ll eventually lose. No matter how disciplined you are, you will fail eventually — just like you can’t continue lifting weights after your muscles are completely worn out. When you fall prey to distractions, you’ll lose valuable time, energy and attention that could’ve been spent on your important task at hand.
- Every time a distraction pulls for your attention, you’ll have to take some of your attention away from your task at hand and direct it to the distraction. This creates an open ‘mental loop’ that occupies space in your brain. In fact, according to research, it turns out that it takes (on average) 25 minutes before you’ve regained your full focus on your task at hand. This phenomenon is called ‘attention residue’, which implies that some of your attention is left behind at your previous distraction.
This is exactly why we need to eliminate distractions before we start working on our most important tasks. So, go ahead and put away your smartphone (or put it on flight mode) so that you won’t get distracted by all the alerts and notifications.
For example, through the way the most popular apps are designed, our brain is being trained to expect instant gratifications that produce strong hits of dopamine — which makes our normal work ‘boring’ from a neurological perspective.
The brain literally starts to crave the stimulation and novelty of apps — and is fighting against us when we need it’s power the most. That’s why we need to physically put away our smartphone in order to prevent us from getting sucked into a loop of checking the same apps over and over.
Furthermore, close all the tabs on your desktop that aren’t necessary for completing your task at hand — especially email, instant messaging, social media and news websites. These things can wait until you’re finished with your important work.