For how long can you stay focused ?
It’s been very hard for me for years to understand how to concentrate and keep my attention on one single thing for long time. The attention span of people worldwide diminished to a few seconds which is scary.
I think the lack of long forms of content like reading a book for example make people accustomed to short bursts of test/image that communicate the idea in a fast way. So in a way we trained ourselves to switch every few seconds from activity to activity or even multitask.
Multitasking is the killer of attention and concentration.
We were told that if you can multitask you somehow a better employee or worker in general but over and over again we are hit with the issue of having to constantly adjust to new tasks that keep the level of stress very high.
I was watching a documentary about a Japanese famous sushi restaurant in which the kitchen was filled with a group of men working on different “ingredients”.
One of them in particular was supposed to rub an octopus in water with bare hands for a few hours to make the meat soft. That person was doing it for years so you may say he got very very good at that particular task. he said that after 10 years he was expected to handle an egg pie.
This is not a joke, Japanese are very good in anything they do because they spend enormous amounts of time perfecting tasks. They achieve high quality of work because they have more than the famous 10000 hours committed.
I get distracted by things around me.
If you get your attention broken by people and things you don’t have control over (phones ringing, neighbors music playing, headache pressing your temples or any other outside source disturbance) or even internal (your own thoughts or fears) , you have to have a system in place to re balance .
This is what I do generally (this is my system):
I stop everything for a few seconds and just breath, try not to think about anything or anyone. Then, as the thoughts come back gradually I try to think about just one at a time and not allow everything to come back.
Then I prioritize in my mind: this can be done later, this is not important, this I have to look at right now, that is not confirmed.. etc.
So once I have everything restructured I can create a plan based on the time of the day, complexity and mood/energy.
To step back from time to time and reevaluate the situation is very helpful and pushes away the worries that may otherwise overwhelm you.
App that may help.
Forest is the best app. It costs two $ or similar and helps you improve your life by keeping you focused on whatever you are doing. (phone free).
Example you set up 25 minutes of focus and you tell yourself not to touch the phone at all costs. In this time a small tree is growing in the app and if you make a mistake and use the phone during this time it will kill the tree.
Every tree you plant virtually gives you points and you can convert those points into buying more trees or buy and plans REAL tree somewhere in the world.
That is amazing.
You may consider 25 minutes a short period of time but it is really hard to keep your hands away from the phone for even that amount of time. If you are weak you can start with 10 minutes and if you are a pro, 60 minutes.
It is easy to understand how to concentrate when you are given so cool tools at your disposal. Practice makes perfect so I suggest you start slow and see how much things you can get done if you stay away from distractions.
You need discipline and focus and those come with time.
What if you are a busy person and is not possible to stay off the phone for so long? How can I really concentrate now?
It is not about giving up your mobile phone/computer/ social interactions completely. If someone asks you for help, help them, if work has to be done do it.
It is about optimizing your free time or study time to make the best out of it by removing the chaos and keeping you committed . Nothing really stops you from breaking the tree and starting all over but you get a lot of satisfaction when you see it grow in the app. I promise !
Just try to plant a tree a day and see in a week you saved 3.5 hours for yourself.
No more Twitter feed aimless scrolling, no more Facebook post checking, email verifying and Google browsing. Get back your time and use it for something useful.
I knew about this app for at least two years but just recently I understood it’s power. Try it and decide for yourself.
Closing yourself in a room can also help, listening to music while doing something is also beneficial as it gives you the rhythm you need to keep going.
Other ways to help you focus and concentrate better are:
- getting something good to drink (warm)
- get yourself comfy clothes
- set the room light to powerful and not dim
- stop TV’s and other electronic devices
The list can be longer but you get the idea.
There is another type of focus deficiency when you are in Malls and big shops. That cannot really be avoided because of obvious reasons.
How do you navigate through the sea of ads and flashy price tags?
Personally I have to force myself to ignore the crowds and concentrate on my family by speaking to them as much as possible or by looking their direction.
In shops I am looking at clothes for example much longer time and in depth checking sizes, materials, colors and other characteristics. Before I was jumping from price tag to new department to till in a matter of minutes.
Is not that I am not in a hurry but I try to “make time” and “take it slow” and that helps me a lot with focus.
Taking everything slower also by eating longer and all interactions with people making them more chill.
I hope this article helps you somewhat and let me know if you have any tips on how to concentrate better.
Cheers and thank you for reading TheLongWalks