3 Pillars for more Focus

There is a lot of scientific research on what Focus is and how to increase it, I’m not someone that wants to inform you with all kinds of numbers and validate research, I want you to experiment with the things I’ve also experienced. Experience is only way to transform ourselves into more focused and productive beings. “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do” – Bruce Lee

It’s like driving a car, Max Verstappen (Dutch F1 racer) also doesn’t know all the details about his F1 car. He knows a lot of Symptoms, so if the steer is not functioning well, he has a couple of idea’s what it could be and if it should be fix later or immediately.

The same goes for our Focus, we don’t need to know all the numbers, all the specific neurons and synapsis that are making you Focussed in a specific task. No, it is all about learning when your Focus is at its highest, at its most efficient functioning. And therefore we need to start: experimenting, reflecting, learning, adapting and enjoying the ride. So what is Focus? In my opinion it’s equal to concentration, the ability to be engaged with a task you’re doing in this moment.

1. Pomodorro

There are a lot of techniques that you can use to reflect on how you use your time. This is the basis of creating more Productivity. Focus + Time = Productivity. I experienced that working for 20 or 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break keeps me really focused. This is actually a method called: The Pomodorro Method, the word Pomodorro coming from “Tomato” like the alarm clock that is being used in the Kitchen.

Pomodorro Alarm

I’m using this technique ONLY, and really ONLY to measure how focused I was during a 25 minute time frame. So I use an app (BeFocusedPro can be found in the Apple store), but you can also use the alarm clock/timer on your phone for instance, to make sure I only work for 25 minutes.

One of my biggest flops in focus is that I keep working for too long in a stretch which makes me unfocussed and tired. So the 25 minutes makes sure I keep within boundaries. It is also forces me to not get entangled with my work, I’m allowed to drop my work for 5 minutes after the 25 minutes of engagement. This takes some practice but it is really worth practicing, because the less entangled you’re the harder you go! Also another thing is, why I’m saying “I’m using this technique ONLY, and really ONLY to measure how focused I was” is because whenever I demand from myself that I accomplish a certain task, I instantly put too pressure on myself, and again the Focus is lost.

It’s like picking up a hand of sand from the beach, and then squeezing in it. Almost all the sand will fall out of your hand.

Hand With Sand

Instead of demanding, I just do my best and create an atmosphere that enhances Focus. It Is the same with fitnessing, you can push yourself really hard and eat MacDonalds afterwards or you fitness for 30 minutes, eat the right calories, protein and fat and make sure you sleep well. The same goes for Focus, creating an ideal atmosphere is half of the work! “Choose a lazy person to do a hard job because that person will find an easy way to do it” – Bill Gates

2. The ideal atmosphere

Environment

You’ll have to experiment with this one, for everybody this works differently. Myself, I cannot really concentrate on work that needs Focus in terms of: searching, writing, calculating etc. So I need to be in a silent room where there is no one around. The easiest way is to do a few pomodorro’s in different environments to see where you were the most productive. Different environments work also together with different tasks, when I’m in the fitness or walking I’m the best in meetings, sales calls, coaching etc. Because my body is in a higher energy I’m way more talkative.

Smart Phone One of the biggest Focus breakers is the Phone of today. This due to the amount of apps, mainly social media apps, WhatsApp, E-mail etc. we have. There is a reason why for so many people it is so hard to regulate this mediums, to be aware when you use them and when not. It has a lot to do with the fact how we as Human beings work. These tools get a very high priority in our Emotional queue, mainly because: You feel important, needed, included, missed or you don’t want to miss anything.

So taking control, step by step over this behavior consciously can get you an enormous Focust boost. Something you must try is turning off the notifications of these apps and building in your own routine in using them. Personally I use them around 3-4 times a day (don’t copy past me, try for yourself, maybe you like 1-2 or 6-8 times day), so for instance at 09:00 o’clock I check: WhatsApp, LinkedIn, E-mail and FB, at 12:00 again and 17:00 again and if it is needed at 10:00 (try not to before 30-60 minutes before sleeping, the body will become restless of this).

Size of the screen

Something I noticed frankly enough through Netflixing (Binge watching J ) was that I could Focus far better and longer by watching a serie or movie through a smaller screen. I practiced this also with working and doing some of the work I’d have on my phone would significally improve my ability to Focus. Personally I feel that it is something to do with the amount of Data you need to process in different sizes of screens. I would recommend you to try what works for you, writing e-mails or long texts is way easier with an ACSI keyboard than on your phone if you ask me, another thing would be to use smaller screens in monitors or laptops and try figuring out again with measuring Pomodorro’s where you were the most productive.

3. The body

Movement

The body and mind are deeply connected, walking or doing sports significally improves the ability to focus yourself. In the end it is all about energy, the more energy you’ve the more it can flow. Raising the energy in the body is done through movement, the more you move the more energy the body starts to build up. It sounds like a paradox but is not, of course if you never ran 10km’s and you do that without practicing you feel very tired but if you gradually build it up you’ll become fitter and fitter with more energy to give. As a tip I can say, pick something that is fun, don’t make everything an exercise but do it because you feel good through it. Myself I do Fitness, Yoga, Dynamic Mediation and dancing, cold showering and meditation.

Food

The consumption of Food takes a lot of energy, especially when you eat meat. This has to do with the molecules your body is to break down in order to convert them to energy. Let’s say you eat meat, a Pig or a Cow are more complicated entities than a salmon, so breaking down the molecules from these animals will take more effort and energy than the salmon. Again if you eat a broccoli instead of a salmon this takes less effort and energy than the salmon, because the building blocks of the Brocolli are less complicated.

There is nothing wrong with meat but you should be aware that if you eat a 300 gr. Hamburger, this would be far more energy consuming than eating a salad or a yoghurt with walnuts or blueberries. Energy can only be spend once, so choose wisely, it will either add to the ideal atmosphere or it will break it down!

Sleep

Movement, Food and Sleep when balanced with utmost attention will put the body in top performance. My experiences on sleep that you can experiment with:

  • Don’t use an alarm clock, breaking unnaturally out of sleep has an impact on your quality of sleep and thus also on your ability to focus. Instead of using an alarm clock, go to bed a bit earlier and tell yourself I want to wake up at 6:00. In 2-3 days time you’ll notice that you start waking up at this time. If you don’t it means that you didn’t take enough rest and the body needs more, if you follow the body you’ll become more rested and more energetic.
  • Put your cellphone away an hour before sleeping and turn off all electronic devices in your sleeping room. Electronic devices do you radiate impulses and the body cannot truly rest with all these impulses (you might have felt very rested on vacations, in forests, on the beach or on Winter Sports). This a cause of fatigue for a lot of people as well.
  • Make sure you don’t sleep with your head to the north, this pulls the blood to the head and creates thus more activity while you sleep. If you’ve a lot of dreams the chances are big that you’re headed to the north while you sleep.
  • Use a saltlamp in your room; it filters ion’s from the air and makes the environment more calm and tranquillized. It also increases the amount of oxygen that the air can contain, this makes it easier for the body to absorb oxygen and thus make it more refreshed.

I hope this article gives you some insights and will lead to transformation. Remember: don’t force, don’t push, be nice to yourself, train yourself and have fun! – Bart