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Today’s video is in response to a request from Kelly on Facebook, who wanted to know if I could create a video or blog post about “How to Focus”. In this Law of Attraction work, we talk a lot about focus – focusing on what we want, focusing on certain thoughts or different frequencies. It all comes down to our ability to focus. But in this world today, with the technology we have, with the internet, Twitter, Facebook and the remote control, we’ve pretty much progressed to the point where we have the attention spans of gerbils. Our main motto might as well be: “Too Long, Didn’t Read.”
Transcript of Video:
Now, the reason that I said that our attention span had progressed instead of regressed, is because I don’t think this is all bad. I think that we’re in the process of changing the way that we sort out and select the information that we’re willing to spend our time on. When we flip the channel or shout “Next…next…next…”, we’re actually becoming a lot more selective in what we’re willing to pay attention to. If something isn’t truly entertaining or educational to us, we’re no longer as willing to tolerate it.
The downside of this situation is that once we do find something that we actually want to pay attention to, we may have some trouble concentrating. And that’s because Focusing is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. The less you use it, the weaker it gets. So, if you’ve been suffering from weak, wimpy focusing muscles, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks today that will help you to strengthen those muscles.
Note: I’m not going to talk about things such as “Make sure that you don’t get distracted.” You already know that. I’m hopefully going to hit some bases that you haven’t heard of before, at least not in this context.
Strengthen Your Focusing Muscles
Every solution I’m going to give you, is something that you can implement immediately, in the moment, while you’re having trouble focusing – except the first one. This one is more about preparation. Just as going to the gym regularly can make you stronger and make it easier for you to get up the stairs when the elevator breaks, so can regular meditation help you to strengthen those focusing muscles for when you need them.
One of my very favorite beginner’s meditation techniques, is to simply sit, close your eyes, breathe and count your breaths. And when your mind wanders (as it will), just gently bring it back to your counting. Over the course of a few days, if you meditate 15-20 minutes a day, you’ll see a major improvement in your ability to concentrate. On the first day, you mind may wander by the count of 5. But after a week, you may be able to get up to 20, then 50 and eventually even 100. Your ability to focus will continue to increase and you’ll be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.
Don’t Try to Focus on Things You Don’t Care About
Make sure that whatever you’re focusing on, is something you actually care about. We have a paradigm in our educational system, where we force children to focus on things that they have absolutely no interest in and we do nothing to tie those things to anything they truly care about. And then we wonder why they have trouble retaining the information. If you’re an adult, you can make your own decisions. This means that if you’re focusing on something that you don’t really care about, but which you think you should care about, stand up for yourself, grow a pair and say “NEXT!” When you really care about what focusing on, it makes it so much easier to stay with it and concentrate.
Keep That End Goal In Mind
In the moment, while you’re trying to focus, remind yourself of whatever it is that you care about. Why are you reading this blog post, watching this video, researching this book, etc.? What is it that you’re hoping to achieve? What’s the end goal for you? That’s the thing you really care about. And if you keep that in mind, it’ll be a lot easier for you to keep from getting distracted and to stay on course.
Another helpful technique I like to use is to take notes while I’m concentrating. So, while you’re watching a video, listening to an audio or reading a book, take a piece of paper and every time something resonates with you, just quickly jot it down. You don’t necessarily have to keep the notes, this is more about the process. When you do this, a couple of things happen.
1.) The act of taking notes automatically helps you to remember the points that were important and helpful to you later.
2.) Writing also helps you to engage your brain in a very different way. Watching something engages your brain in one way. Listening engages your brain in a different way. And writing engages your brain in yet another way. The more ways in which you can engage your brain differently, the less likely it is and the more difficult it becomes for you to get distracted – either by outside stimuli or by your own mind.
Are Ideas Taking Your Brain Hostage?
Sometimes, your inability to focus isn’t due to a short attention span. It’s because there are too many things going on in your head. Particularly creative people have this issue. I certainly do. I can be having a fantastic and interesting conversation with someone, when it triggers an idea that may or may not be related to what we’re talking about. If the idea is really good, I’ll try to hold on to it, and by doing so, I completely disassociate myself from what’s going on in front of me. I can only truly focus on either the conversation or the idea.
What I’ve found is that if I keep some paper and a pen with me (which I do at all times), and just write down a few words to capture the main point of the idea, I can transfer the idea from my mind to the paper and be assured that I won’t forget it. This frees up my brain to re-focus on the conversation. So, if you have the same problem – that you’re mind is always going a mile a minute – just stop what you’re doing and empty out your mind onto a piece of paper. You’ll know that you’ve captured your ideas and it’ll be easier for you to focus on what’s going on in front of you.
Fatigue = Lack of Focus
There are times when your inability to concentrate or focus may just be down to good old fatigue. You may just be tired. If you’ve been concentrating for hours, your brain needs a rest. Just as when you lift a heavy weight over and over again, it’s going to turn your muscle into Spaghetti, when you spend hours and hours concentrating, it’s going to turn your brain into Spaghetti. You need to take a break.
You can go and do something really passive, something that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. Watch a movie that’s not too challenging, listen to some music, or play with a dog. Or, you can go and do something purely physical, like exercising, walking on a treadmill, swimming or lifting weights. When you do something purely physical, you take all the pressure off your mind and brain and you put it on your body. Now your brain can relax, and it begins to process all the information that you’ve given it. You’re not giving it any new input right now, so it can sort through what you’ve given it and reorganize it. And what often happens in this case is that some of the solutions that have been eluding you will start to hit you. I have some of my biggest insights while on the treadmill. Maybe you will, too.
Still with me? Excellent focusing!
So, once again, if you’re having trouble focusing:
- Make sure that you’re not tired
- Make sure that whatever you’re focusing on is something you actually care about
- Remind yourself of your end goal and what you’re hoping to achieve by focusing on this thing
- Take some notes while you’re watching, reading or listening, to engage your brain in a different way.
- If tons of ideas and insights start to hit you, stop what it is that you’re doing and jot down some notes to get the ideas from your brain out onto a piece of paper, to free yourself up to concentrate on what’s important to you.
Have you found any ways to ramp up your focusing power? Share them with all of us in the comments!