“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decades, You know who Steve Jobs is, what he accomplished during his time on earth and how his ideas have helped improve the world (or technology).
When it comes to achieving great things like our dearly beloved Steve, Focus is a key attribute. Without focus, you’re bound to allow distractions mess up your day and your drive.
There’s this popular saying that our attention span is dwindling as Humans – some have gone as far to propagate the wrong saying that human beings have a lesser attention span than a goldfish. For context, that is 6 seconds. While studies have come out to prove this to be somewhat false, you can see the “truth” in it.
Thanks to the internet and smartphone, we have the world of entertainment and information right at our fingertips.
But each day we are limited to just 24 hours. This trade off means if you constantly allow your mind to wander from one place to the next and are not mindful – you can spend the whole day being “busy” but unproductive
It’s no wonder, those who are focused can achieve their goals more easily than those who are not.
Any goal – from losing weight, getting a promotion at work, learning a high income skill are all within the reach of a person who is focused
So, in the spirit of that great idea, here are 7 tricks to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused machine that gets things done.
It’s not okay to say you want to lose weight or you want to make money or you want to be physically fit – these are all broad plans. When your plans are this broad and not specific, it’s harder for you to focus and try to achieve them.
To give less time for your mind to wander and stay focused, make your plans specific – I want to lose 20 pounds, I want to learn digital marketing, I want to make money as a freelancer. The idea is to write a plan that whoever sees it can run with it
2. Totem Up: I wear a dog tag on my neck with the inscription “Don’t try”. It is the epitaph on the “tombstone” of my favourite Author Charles Bukowski. While it might mean nothing to you, it means a lot to me. As I write this, It’s hanging over my system and helps me stay focused. Anytime my mind wanders which it does every 5 minutes. I am centred when I see it. You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well.
Ericson Ay Mires writes on focus totems – “All you’ve got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.”
People have used pictures of their loved ones, holding a chess piece etc. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to mean something to you.
3. Have a Reward System: The world runs on incentives. You’re more likely to do a task when you have a reward in front of you. Terrorists and 72 virgins, Christians and making heaven, The law of karma. Having gold at the end of a journey makes you want to press forward for the sweet satisfaction. This is also key to changing behaviour. When you set yourself a reward, make it one that correlates with the difficulty of the task at hand
Some ways you can do this might be
The idea is similar to the one outlined by James Clear in his bestselling book – Atomic Habits. Your reward should be something you want to do but you only get it by doing something you NEED to do.
4. Make it Embarrassingly Easy: When you have a task to do and you know it’s going to be long, hard and tedious what happens? Your mind starts looking for other things to do INSTEAD of what you NEED to do. But when you make the task super easy at first, you make it impossible to fail. You can do this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.For example, telling yourself to read 5 pages of a book everyday beats telling yourself to read the whole chapter if you want to develop a good reading habit. Our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things started.
Why is this such a cool trick?
Because You can and will most likely keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.
5. Use the “Just 10 Minutes” Method: In his book Atomic Habit, James Clear says you can tie any task to just “2 minutes”. An example is, if you want to start running everyday, it takes just 2minutes to put on your running shoes. This helps you get started. But let’s start with 10 minutes – when it comes to focus. By telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 10 minutes” before you stop, You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is less tasking than it really is. After all, 10 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.The key here is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 10 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.In time you can increase how long you work and even use the pomodoro method to become unstoppable.
6. Create A Victory Jar: A victory jar is a list of all your “Wins” both big and small. Our minds are wired to discard the good in our lives and focus on our inadequacies.Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing victory jar a.k.a “wins” list to prove you’re a capable person. By keeping track of all your daily wins—big and small – whenever your focus starts to wane, give your list a look-see to remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.
7. Have Something to Lose: One time, while creating a digital product, I was procrastinating on end. I knew without an accountability partner, I was bound to keep editing it. What did I do – I called someone I respect and told him if I don’t finish this task on so and so date – I’ll send you 10,000 naira every day that you can use to help someone else.
He could do without the 10k but the thought of losing that money everyday spurred me into action.
Find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to get things done
For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy them lunch if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll cook your partner their favorite meal for a week if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over.We can even help you. You can set an amount you will send to a charity of your choice if on so and so date you don’t complete a task you set for yourself.
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