Laser focus sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
Having a laser-sharp focus means that you have the mental strength to cut through distractions like a Bond villain. Learn how to concentrate properly, and you can slice through procrastination in seconds. Goodbye deadline stress, so long last-minute panic.
The only problem? Finding and maintaining that kind of focus isn’t easy. You need to bolster your brain to ensure that you’re letting the right information in at the right time. How do you hone your mind into a finely tuned instrument of productivity?
Let’s find out.
What Is Laser Focus?
Laser focus is the mental ability to give 100 percent of your attention to the task you’ve prioritized in the present moment. It helps you put aside all the delicious unrelated thoughts and sustain the energy required to reach your goals.
Think about your days for a moment. How many times do you try zoning on something only to get side-tracked for 10-20 minutes because you got a new alert on Facebook? Okay, some of the messages might be important, but then, do you really need to check out what’s trending on BuzzFeed alongside reading who’s saying what?
You may not realize it, but jumping from task to task like this kills your productivity.
Developing laser-like focus can be the key to finishing tasks quickly and doing your best work on each, as it unlocks your ability to concentrate on one set goal before you move onto the next. Laser-focused people know that real progress starts with being able to concentrate on one thing at a time.
Just like a laser beam can concentrate a lot of light on one small area, laser-focused people can put a lot of energy in completing one crucial task well. Do it perfectly the first time and you’ll gain time to do other things without feeling tired or stressed.
Why Is Focus Important?
Learning to keep focus is the most effective way to achieve desired outcomes. With focus, you continually strive to get better end results. Plus, you put all of your energy into your area of focus.
Focus also allows you to learn from experiences to help shape future ones. Knowing you’re capable of improving can do wonders for your personal growth. Don’t let a lack of focus hold you back from discovering your true potential!
Other reasons why you may want to develop focus include:
1. Build new strategies
When you focus on one specific task, you get better at creating strategies for completing it efficiently.
Even if you hit an obstacle along the way, focusing helps to ensure that you do not give up. Rather, it encourages you to come up with alternative ways to achieve the set goal.
The outcome is new strategies that can improve your chances of success. Remember, companies and employers want to work with talented individuals who aren’t afraid of leaving their comfort zone to find a solution.
2. Reduce stress
When we lack focus, we face the risk of experiencing stress. And it’s not because we have too much on our plate. It’s that our mental energy takes a hit combatting the different distractions throughout the day.
But when you develop laser sharp focus and learn how to stay in this mindset, you prevent the things around you from sabotaging your productivity. You’re able to cross the most important tasks off your to-do list and free up time for relaxing activities like pursuing a hobby.
All of that helps improve your mood and decrease your stress and anxiety levels.
3. Improve self-esteem
Many people have this harsh inner critic that feeds on their self-doubt. This discourages them taking the lead or trying new things. Fortunately, developing focus can help you see the positive side of things and appreciate the effort you make.
When you learn to focus, you build internal trust and become more confident in your abilities. And this positively affects your outlook on life.
You feel better about what you get done and motivated about what you don’t. This helps you build self-esteem, which in turn pushes you to become the best version of yourself.
6 Ways To Develop Laser-Like Focus
Developing better focus isn’t as tough as it seems.
Think of focus as a muscle and become your brain’s personal trainer. Just like your muscles, your focus levels grow the more you use them. However, you also need periods of rest between focus sessions and the right support and nutrition to keep you on track.
Start your routine with the following steps.
1. Get the right rest and sleep
Ask any entrepreneur for their best concentration tips, and they’ll tell you it all starts with sleep. No-one achieves anything when the only things keeping them awake are coffee and pure determination. Your brain needs plenty of rest if you’re going to use it to its full potential.
Studies show that your sleeping patterns directly influence your cognitive abilities. The fewer hours of rest you get, the harder it is for your brain to connect thoughts, consolidate memories, and solve problems.
On average, you’ll need about 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can get by with 3 or 4 because you want to stay up watching Netflix.
Need an extra brain pick-me-up before a big project? Meditate. Meditation gives your brain a moment to rest, but it also significantly increases cognitive functioning.
2. Try the ABC technique
Take a lesson from the Harvard Business Review. They learned that your brain is constantly being distracted by internal and external stimuli. If you’re not letting your internal thoughts distract you, you’re getting pulled away by various sounds and sights.
Getting laser focused means learning how to wade through those distractions using the ABC technique. That means:
Becoming aware of your situation
In other words, figure out what your options are, relax, and decide on the right path. Give your brain a second to sort through all the different things fighting for its attention.
3. Create the perfect atmosphere
A laser is a light directed through just the right conditions. To give yourself laser-sharp focus, you need to create the right conditions for your brain.
Start with music. Not just any music – though. According to Stanford University, classical music pushes the brain to pay attention. To ensure you can stay laser-focused, stay away from anything with lyrics that might pull your brain out of the moment.
While you’re turning the volume up, check the lighting and heating too. Studies say that working in a warmer space will make you more productive (as long as you’re not sitting in a sauna). Plus, plenty of natural light means you don’t have to strain to see. Fewer headaches mean fewer issues with concentration.
4. Get the visual right
Once you’ve got the music right, look at your surroundings. Plants in the office have a positive impact on productivity and focus. Studies say that taking a 40-second break to look at some greenery could be enough to increase your focus.
Green, not your color? Try red instead. Other research indicates that people who see red when focusing on certain tasks experience improvements in memory and attention to detail.
Even the way you dress affects your concentration. One study found that students wearing lab coats when conducting experiments made half the number of their pals’ errors wearing regular clothes. Dress the part.
5. Nurture your mind and body
You can only achieve true focus when your body and mind is in excellent condition. You’ll know how hard it is to stay focused when you’re tired, feeling unwell, or just out of sorts.
Start nurturing your mind by getting more cardio into your routine. Research found that aerobic exercise training improves the size and performance of the anterior hippocampus. The result is an increase of spatial memory cognitive skills.
Another way to nurture your mind and body is to get more water into it. Being as little as 2% dehydrated can make you feel sad, unable to focus, and exhausted. When the body is fully and consistently hydrated, the flow of nutrients into your brain is more efficient. A hydrated brain can be more creative, and benefit from better decision-making skills.
3 Tips To Stay Laser Focused
Sometimes, the biggest challenge isn’t getting focused, it’s staying that way.
You might start your day with good intentions, and a strong focus on what you want to accomplish. However, as the hours pass by and boredom, exhaustion, and fatigue start to creep in, your focus begins to dwindle.
So, how do you hold onto the focus you’ve worked so hard to build? According to the late Steve Jobs, the best strategy is to choose a goal and stick with it. In other words, you decide what you’re going to do at the beginning of the day and say NO to anything that isn’t going to push you towards your goals.
Here’s how you can ensure you’re saying “yes” to the right things, so you can stay focused.
1. Have a clear vision
To stay focused, you need an end goal in mind. That means you start each day with a list of tasks that you want to have accomplished by the time you clock out.
What are the most important things that you need to do right now? Is there anything on your to-do list that doesn’t need to be there? We’re talking about tasks that you can delegate elsewhere or ignore entirely.
Developing laser focus means knowing how to identify what’s important on your to-do list. If you’ve got a project that has a deadline tomorrow, then that’s going to be a lot more important than something you need to plan for next week. Get your priorities in order before you jump into work.
2. Create an action plan
Once you know what you want to do, take that task on, and break it down.
Huge tasks split your attention into tons of little pieces. You get overwhelmed by the job’s size, start questioning what’s possible and lose your focus.
To start being laser-focused again, split bigger tasks up into smaller, more manageable chunks. The smaller the segments, the easier the project will feel.
As you progress through your list of smaller tasks, check them off. Being able to see the progress you’re making gives you a dose of dopamine that motivates you to keep going.
Cutting your work into smaller tasks also means you’re less likely to multi-task. Despite what you think you’ve heard, multi-tasking is poison to a laser-sharp focus.
3. Banish all distractions
Ok, you know what you need to do and how you’re going to reach your goals.
Now, it’s time to get rid of anything that might steal your hard-earned focus.
Got incoming emails constantly pinging up on the side of your screen? Mute them. Close all other tabs on your computer beyond the ones that you need to have open. You can even block the apps most likely to grab your attention.
The Freedom application blocks distractions from websites and apps. You set up the blocklists for sites you want to avoid, and the service blocks them on all of your devices – including your smartphone.
Speaking of your smartphone, if you don’t need it – turn it off. Put it in a drawer where you don’t need to look at it or think about it.
It’s also worth letting anyone who might distract you know when you’re not going to be available to talk. There’s nothing wrong with requesting a bit of space from your coworkers from time to time.
Bonus tip: Take breaks
Sometimes, you’ll be able to plow through a task all at once. That’s great.
Other times, you’ll need to take a moment to let your brain recuperate every so often. That’s fine too.
Grab a glass of water, stand up, and walk around the office. Stretch your legs. Reset your mind. As unproductive as it might feel to simply stop working from time to time, your brain is only capable of so much. Make sure you take regular breaks to stay on track.
Get Ready To Embrace Laser Focus
Laser focus isn’t some mysterious skill that only a few people can master.
Anyone can develop a better level of focus. The trick is learning how to hone your mind into a well-tuned instrument of productivity and problem-solving. Once you know how to prepare your body and brain for better cognitive processes, and arrange your day in a way that cultivates success, you’ll start to see the difference in no time.
With the tips above, you can learn how to overcome procrastination, side-step distractions, and banish brain fog.
Now go and put your new laser focus to the test.