Focus is a skill that, to most people, doesn’t come naturally. It must be polished, learned and best of all, practiced. This is not just the ability to concentrate on a single task without being easily distracted, but it is made up of steps that must be mastered effectively. This does not at all mean that the art of single-minded focus is not important. What is the art of focus? This is basically an art whereby you are able to accomplish what most people are not able to do by learning to put your attention on one thing first and then another later.
As an individual, you must have the ability to engage yourself wisely and put this into action in your daily battles. Good management is good, but in order for you to have the upper hand against distraction, your focus matters greatly. Studies have proven that people who are able to maintain their attention for long periods of time perform relatively better on all forms of challenges than those who are not.
A man with a limited attention span will only be capable of concentrating more on one thing than many others. Such a man is indeed wise and skilled but is incapable of extending his wisdom and skills a notch further so as to learn new things. On the other hand, there is also a man who is able to focus his attention on more than one thing. This kind of man has an upper hand, considering he is not limited to one thing.
If you, like me, have a desire to understand and learn more than you already know before you die, there is need for you to boost your concentration strength. Most successful people don’t work hard, rather, they work smart. This careful observation may assist you to focus on doing things the right way, rather than just getting the job done. Spend less time working, and instead spend more time thinking. Your level of focus will determine how well you will get the job done.
Picture Your Mind as a Muscle
When it comes to strengthening your attention, try to think of your mind as a muscle. Did you know that strengthening your body and strengthening your mind are similar in very many ways? These are in fact so close that it is not really an analogy, but a fact that most people are not aware of.
When it comes to the level of strength, both your physical and attention muscles have limitations in one way or another. They are both linked to your level of activeness and inactiveness. If you exercise your mind i.e through memorizing stuff, you become sharp mentally. If you hit the gym often, your muscles will grow. They both require recovery and rest after they’ve been exerted intensely.
You get a similar feeling of dread/doubt internally right before you commence a vigorous workout. Questions like “ Do I really want to do this?” come up when you are already dressed in your workout attire. Similarly, this also occurs right before you read a novel or a lengthy article. If these negative feelings come up, be mindful of this: You still have to do it.
Once you hit a wall in an intense workout where you feel you cannot proceed, it is similar to when you’re in the middle of reading a long article, you will have the urge to surf a different tab. If you tell yourself to go on in both instances, you’ll be amazed at just how much more focus and strength you had left.
Everyone is searching for trendy new “shortcuts” on how to build both their mind and body. The secrets and hacks have obviously gone undiscovered. The truth behind having a stable body and mind always boils down to one thing: Plain, old-fashioned and highly unpleasant work. In both mind and body, gaining strength is ultimately about good nutrition, getting recommended hours of sleep and taking part in challenging exercises daily.
As you read through this tips, try as much as possible not to drift. We’re getting into the mental gym so as to learn how you can boost your focus. Here is where you give up the search for the latest “shortcuts” on how to build your intellectual strength.
5 Key Steps To Mastering The Art of Focus
1. Learn to be mindful throughout your day.
Mindful Meditation: 10 to 20 mins of this each day has been proven by experts to improve focus. In addition to this, finding the perfect chances to put mindfulness into action throughout your day brings about similar results. What is mindfulness? This is giving deep concentration to whatever you’re doing, slowing down and noticing every emotional and physical sensation you may be having at that particular moment.
Mindfulness can be put into practice in your everyday activities: When you eat, take time to carefully chew your food and concentrate on both its texture and flavors. When you shave, take in a long whiff of your shaving cream. Stay focused on the pleasure of applying to your face a warm lather and gently drag the razor across your facial hair.
What is the importance of incorporating short sessions of mindfulness throughout your day? This will basically improve focus and broaden the span of your attention for those times when you need it most. In addition to this, mindfulness assists you to resist everyday distractions as they emerge. If you’re busy on a task and feel the need to do something else, say to yourself, “Stay here now”. Bring your awareness to your body and your breath in that particular moment. You’ll realize that the distraction is nowhere in sight and that you’re in a good position to get back to work.
2. Stay focused On Whatever You Set Out To Do.
Ever heard of Kyudo? This is simply a martial art of archery from Japan. This art has everything to do with focus. The end result is always determined by where your feet lie, the way you hold the bow, and how you breathe during the release of the arrow. This short story illustrates the importance of focus:
Eugen Herrigel, a German native, moved to Japan in the 1920s so as to train Kyudo. He began his lessons with the help of a phenomenal Kyudo master known as Awa Kenzo. Awa always advocated for beginners to first master the basics of archery before moving on to shooting the actual target. He occasionally took this method to the extreme. Eugen was only permitted to shoot a roll of straw seven feet away at the beginning of his training.
Once he was granted permission to shoot at targets on the far side of the practice area, Eugen’s result was not at all pleasing. With each attempt, the arrows went in the wrong direction. With each wayward shot, he became more discouraged. Eugen was certain he had a serious problem with his aim, but Awa thought otherwise: “It wasn’t a matter of aim, but the manner in which you approached your goal predicted the end result.”
Eugen suddenly burst out in frustration, “Then I suppose you are capable of hitting it blindfolded.” After pausing for a few minutes, Kenzo replied, “Be my guest this evening.” At nightfall, the two men resumed their positions at the practice courtyard. Awa moved to his usual shooting spot with the target safely hidden.
He finally settled into his firing posture, drew the bow string, and suddenly released the arrow. Eugen would in future note, “From the sound, I knew that it hit the target.” Awa took hold of a second arrow and fired once more. This time, Eugen wanted to be sure that the both arrows had really hit the target. To his amazement, the first arrow was planted at the center of the target, while the second went directly at the center of the first arrow’s butt.
Unlikely story? We still have a lot to learn from it. Awa Kenzo’s case clearly illustrates complete awareness of the mind and body in relation to the goal. He was so mindful of the process that it led to an impressive shot. What’s more, he was also able to repeat the exact sequential flow of movements with no sight of the target. He was simply in a state of relaxed alertness. In different terms, the mind being totally focused on the action and glued to the present task. It is being in total awareness of your body, surroundings and mind with absolutely no stress at all.
In short, choose to intentionally live your life and act purposefully and not mindlessly. Stay focused and do not be one to fall victim to whatever may come your way.
3. Pay Attention and Never Lose Focus
We all tend to get into our comfort zone once we have achieved whatever we were after. In other words, we lose focus. The battle does not come to an end once you are victorious. It only ends when you lose commitment, zeal and most of all, attention. Learn to live with alertness and pay attention to the bigger picture regardless of whether you have achieved what you set out to do in the first place or not.
This philosophy can be carried out in numerous areas of life. Neither failure nor success is an enemy of improvement. Losing focus and concentration are the key enemies of improvement. If you keep in mind that you still have to achieve more than what you have already achieved, you will always stay on the right track. You will also move on to greater heights, learn more and gain more.
4. Gradually Increase the Strength of Your Focus
If ever you decide that you want to get in shape physically, you will obviously not enroll into an extreme training program. You’ll eventually get discouraged, injured, or both, and you’ll lose the willingness to do it before you even begin.
The same goes for the span of your attention. It is best to take things in a slow but sure way. A good way to build your focus is by working for 45 straight minutes with a short break of 15 minutes. This, obviously, is impossible to most of us. Try this: Set a timer for five minutes and give complete attention to your reading/ work for that entire period. Take a break of 2 minutes, then go at it again for an extra 5 minutes. Add an extra 5 minutes each day to your focused work time, and an extra 2 minutes to your break time. This will prepare you for working 45 minutes before an allowance of an 18-minute break.
5. Get Into The Habit of Engaging Your Body Physically
In simpler terms, learn to exercise. This is the best way to actually benefit yourself both physically and mentally. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will. A recent study was done to test the truth in this statement. It later revealed that students who took part in moderate physical exercise before sitting for a test that measured their spans of attention performed way better than those who didn’t. The conclusion to this study was that exercise boosts the ability of the brain to resist distractions, though they are not completely sure why. A simple explanation to this is that the willpower it takes to endure the pressure of a workout also strengthens the ability to resist distractions in order to maintain our focus.
These are just a few of what you can do to get rid of stress and discomforts that you may encounter in this life. To lead a happy and satisfying life, in the midst of all these distractions, gaining control of attention is key. Take things slow. You will notice a gradual improvement in your memory and concentration. You will also learn to put your life into perspective and best of all, you will be able to think more clearly with minimum effort. Relax your mind and body so as to gain a calm and mindful awareness of the present. By doing so, you will enjoy the numerous benefits that come with it.
I hope this has gotten you to think critically about the art of focus in a new light. I hope it will inspire you as well to take the required steps so as to improve it. Trust me, you’ll be totally amazed how much your life can be so much better just by paying attention to your focus.