How focused are you? Do you work at building focus? To accomplish anything worthwhile in life, you need to focus. When you can focus at will, it allows you to transform your life and achieve your desires.
Simply put, focus is a thinking skill that enables you to start and complete a task without procrastination. Problem-solving, decision making, remembering information, perception, and more require a clear focus. Without focus, you cannot accomplish anything.
Once you develop a high level of focus, it becomes easier to pay attention to a task despite distractions and setbacks along the way, allowing you to finish one task before moving on to another.
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The problem is we all have wandering minds, which causes problems and distracts us from our plans and goals. Learning to control your wandering mind allows you to become more productive while accomplishing more. But how do we do that?
Your brain uses an efficient selection process that filters all the information you receive and determines its importance. It moves information up and down on your priority list based on the data it absorbs. Using the same process, your brain suppresses interruptions and distractions and moves them to the bottom of your priority list.
Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.
Four Attention States
While attempting to focus on something, there are four different attention states you can be in:
- divided attention
- alternating attention
- selective attention
- sustained attention
Each of these states plays a role in your focus.
Divided attention or multi-tasking happens when you focus on multiple ideas or tasks at the same time. Have you ever driven a car and not remembered every detail about the trip? This is an example of divided attention.
Divided attention diminishes as people age and because it allows you to process different sources of information at once, you need to learn to increase your focus so you can prevent this from happening.
Alternating Attention is the ability to switch back and forth between tasks requiring different brain activities. For example, doing your taxes (analytical task) and creating a new product (creative task).
With selective attention, you concentrate on one task while filtering out other distractions. For example, you are at a party where there are multiple conversations, music playing, and the sounds of plates clanging. All things that compete for your attention. Selective attention allows you to filter out irrelevant sounds and focus on one conversation.
With sustained attention, you can focus on one project for an extended period without becoming distracted.
Your brain uses a process called sensitivity enhancement. This ensures that it intensifies all sensory information to make sure that you can process things correctly. Sustained attention is the ideal state to master because of the length of focus.
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4 Benefits of Focusing On One Task
People may try to convince you that multitasking is the right thing to do to increase your productivity, but the opposite is true. You are not likely to achieve more by multitasking. Here are some benefits of focusing on one task at a time.
Concentrating on one thing at a time will unlock the potential in your brain. Several studies have shown that people’s creative abilities increase when they focus on a single task and enter a flow state. Your brain wants you to concentrate on one task at a time, and when you do this, you can unlock the potential it offers you.
You can experience a state of deep thought a lot easier when you decide to focus on a single task at a time. With this deep thought, you are likely to discover different options and find paths you would not have found if you were trying to multitask.
Related Reading: Creative Writing Doesn’t have to be Hard
Multitasking often slows down processes. When you focus on one task, you can enter a state of deep concentration or flow state that helps you complete tasks quickly.
When you are in a flow state, you can lose all concept of time and any external distractions. Flow states can increase productivity by as much as 500%.
Multitasking requires a lot of energy because your attention and focus are constantly being split. So even the simplest tasks take longer to complete, which increases your stress levels.
Focusing on a single task at a time can lower your stress levels. Then tackling your tasks will become more satisfying when you accomplish each one. The more you multi-task, the more likely you are to become stressed.
Related reading: 7 Stress- Reducing Tips
Most people switch around their priorities daily. They also switch between multiple websites and the different apps they have installed on their phones. The problem with this is that each of these switches comes with a cost to your focus.
When you focus on one task at a time, you drastically reduce the number of switches in your brain. Then it becomes easier to rebuild your focus and sustain it by regularly concentrating on one task.
Multitasking is the opposite, causing several switches to get everything done. This is not good for your focus and will probably not produce the results that you want.
Last Words on Building Focus
Having the ability to focus on tasks can increase your productivity, allowing you to get more done than before. When you learn to focus on the important things, you can accomplish anything you want.
Feature image by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels