The Art of Keeping your Focus

Written on Saturday, August 14th, 2010 at 7:34 am by Adaire
Filed under Lifestyle.

Sometimes, I wish I could go back to the pre-internet age. The world without emails, IMs, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc…There were fewer distractions to contend with. But it sure was a burden not having to shop at just a click of a button :)

I remember back then, when the internet was new, if you wanted to shop at Amazon, you would go through their “online catalog” write down all of the item numbers for what you wanted and pick up the phone and CALL their order number – or if you were really brave – you’d email your order and credit card info :) .  On eBay – if you bought something at auction and won – you would send a physical check to the seller who would cash it and then send your order to you.

Most websites were education sites or basically business cards online. Full scale online adoption didn’t happen until ten years ago.  And boy did we all truly adopt – fast! :)

I have to admit that living in the World Wide Web has made it difficult for me to keep my focus. The internet has enough content to consume my mind.  And even with all this surplus of cultural technologies that evolve faster than you can type, we still thirst for more ways to fill our attention. I mean, do you even have to wonder why they had to create multiple tabs in the internet browser? :)

Source: GettyImages.com

Indeed, with all these information bombarding us from so many sources, keeping our minds focused almost seems impossible. I bet while you are reading this, you are chatting with online friends, downloading a funny cat video, listening to the radio, and watching TV. :)

Greg Reid, author of the book, “Millionaire Mentor” cites a more vivid example showing the importance of focus in one’s success in his article on Healthy Wealthy n Wise entitled Catch the Ball.

He compares a golden opportunity to a game of basketball where you are poised to make the winning shot.  Being aware that the success of the game relies on you adds pressure that could make you lose focus.  Your mind may wander too far ahead into imagining triumph and accolades. As your attention drifts, you end up failing to catch the ball.

While focus is mostly required of athletes in a high-pressure competition, the concept also presents itself to various situations. Take a stage actor for example.  He could hit the high notes, memorize his lines, keep in character during his rehearsals, but once he loses his focus onstage when the blinding lights and public eyes are upon him, then all is for naught.

Riding two horses:

“If you can’t ride two horses at the same time you shouldn’t be in the circus.”- Unknown source

Riding two horses altogether may seem like a highly-prized ability, IF you want your life to be a circus. :)

So before you pat your back for your ability to multi-task, think again. Reid couldn’t have said it better himself, “We can do things faster and better, if we focus on only one thing at a time.”

So how do you maintain your focus amidst this crippling attitude of doing everything at once?

I’ve outlined here a few basic tips which I based on Reid’s article:

Unplug:

Recently, I caught a story on TV where a family with teenage kids was dared to live for a week without TV, internet, mobile phone, radio, and music players. To entertain themselves, they played board games; talked, painted, read books.  I wasn’t sure if the family made it through the week, but it did make me think how families have changed so much because of this technological age. Kids are busy text messaging their friends instead of talking to their parents over dinner. Dads are spending more time in front of the computer monitor instead of their real live kids. Families have lost their focus on the most important aspect of their lives – their loved ones. Without your family, with whom will you share your success?

If you think unplugging yourself completely is too harsh, then start with unplugging yourself some of the time. For example, turn off the TV and ban all mobile phones during meals so you could enjoy a conversation. Or plan a no-connectivity weekend in a beach or at home. You might be surprised at how going back to basics could lead you to a grander vision in life. :)

Prepare:

In his article, Reid emphasizes the need for preparation. In a high-pressure situation such as a big business presentation, you are given only one chance. Leave no room for surprises. Carefully study all aspects of a task or project before you aim for the big shot.  Being prepared mentally also boosts your confidence. Simon Cowell couldn’t have said it best, “There is no need to be nervous if you know you’re good.” :)

If you‘ve covered all possibilities, ran through your presentation, perfected your pitch, then you are in total control of the situation. This kind of assurance leaves you now with only one task in mind: focus to win.

Choose One:

Pick one and stick with it.  Whether it’s a career path, a task, a business, a strategy, a goal, and yes even a life partner :) You have to choose only one for you to succeed at it.  If you want proof then try it tomorrow. Make a list of your day’s tasks and do them all at once.  I bet you would succeed only at squandering your time.  If you think all your tasks are necessary, then prioritize and allot a scheduled time for each.  Imagine focusing all your thought, energy, resources on that one task. You would not only finish, but also finish with a flourish.

Glancing at these simple tips, you might think that they are far too methodical.  You might ask, what about creativity? The need to live in the moment, allowing the natural flow of imagination?

Have you heard the esoteric order of art?  Yes, even in the most abstract Picasso, there is logic and order. Underneath all those crazy, non-linear strokes is a unifying theme that makes it a work of art. :) Why do you think you could recognize a Picasso if you see one?

So ask yourself this question, are you ready to create a masterpiece of success?  Then get focused!

Let me know how you plant to start your magnum opus with your comments below.

Adaire


4 Responses to “The Art of Keeping your Focus”

  1. Sue says:

    Thanks Adaire!

    You really worked over both of them w/this article, mindset and skillset!

    I love the “unplug” part. When we vacation… as in camping & no phones work, I love it. No one to call and interrupt family time via electronics!

    I am researching and excited and taking the time and loving it!

    My children are back in school and I can do this!

    Thanks for the great read!

  2. Farouk says:

    you are so right
    i tried to stop using internet at night right before i sleep each day and i experienced withdrawal symptoms as if i was on drugs :D

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