Being able to focus single-mindedly on a task is a great skill to have. It allows you to concentrate only on what you’re doing. As a result, you can do better work in a shorter amount of time, no matter what it is you’re working on. But working highly focused is hard. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy.
Short Attention Span
Don’t be surprised to find that you can only stay highly focused for fifteen or thirty minutes at a time in the beginning. The mind works a bit like a muscle. You have to train and work yourself up to long sessions of laser focus. So, practice is part of the equation. Start small and then challenge yourself to stay focused for longer and longer periods of time. Use a timer to push yourself a little harder each day.
The second part of the equation is to work in a distraction-free environment. There is nothing that kills focus faster than being disrupted. The more distractions you can cut out of your focused work time, the easier it will be to get things done.
Train Yourself Gradually
Here’s how you can start to train yourself to stay focused for longer and longer periods of time. Start blocking off small chunks of time in your schedule for highly productive work. During that time, take your phone off the hook, close your door, and get rid of any distractions you can think of. Set a timer and get to work, not allowing yourself to break for any reason. Work as concentrated as you can until your timer goes off. Rinse and repeat several times throughout the day.
As time goes by, you can start to extend the time you spend working highly focused. Therefore, you may start out with 30 minutes or less, but you can easily work up to one or two hours, take a short break to stretch your legs, followed by another hour or two of focused work.
Consequently, you’ll be amazed how much you can get done each day in a few hours of focus. Your productivity will soar and you’ll have the rest of the day to deal with anything else that comes up that doesn’t need your full and undivided attention. Best of all, there should be plenty of hours left in the day for all the fun stuff. After a morning spent making serious progress on an important project, you won’t feel bad about grabbing an extended lunch with a good friend or cutting out of the office early on a Friday.