5 tips to maintain focus in our digital world, the key factor to success
Keeping yourself on track is the fastest way to realize your goals and become successful. When you have clear what is most important for you, at work and in your private life, focused attention is what you need to get there. Focus allows you to prioritize, to make the right decisions on what activities to spend your time on (and not to spend your time on), it helps you to reduce activities that are in fact time wasters and to get the things done that really matter. Focus can add great value to your life and to your wellbeing (and to that of the people around you).
In our world of constant digital distractions, coming from so many communication channels at the same time, how do you actually do this?
We know by now, that multitasking – that is doing many things at the same time - is not an option. By trying to do this, we lose a lot of energy (we actually switch between tasks) and we limit ourselves to do any task well. We are not able to pay enough attention to the important things, probably get stressed, and may even start feeling overwhelmed. At the end we won’t have enough energy left to concentrate on what really matters for us.
Research from Harvard, carried out by experts in this field, highlight some interesting tips that can help us to maintain focus, even with the most challenging distractions we encounter.
#1 Set your intention sharply
As long as we are prepared and clear on what is important for us, when we are strongly decided on where to put our attention, it is more difficult to get caught in the moment of distraction.
During our daily activities we can reduce a lot of stress if we have our goals front of mind. We can choose what matters most and set a positive intention on moving forward.
#2 Apply the A-B-C rule
Be aware that you always have an option - you have a choice. You either give into the distraction, or you keep on doing what is important for you. Once you know this, breathe deeply. Take some distance and relax. And third, choose what option to follow. It will slow down your impulsive responses, give you time to ignore the distraction and continue with the more important things.
#3 Make use of on-line tools and technology
Our attention span is very small when it comes to competing with all the beeps and vibrations coming from our devices. These alerts and notifications send a message to our brain that something else is urgently needing our attention. Your brain releases dopamine which might cause addiction to these signals. And in the meantime, most of these notifications are rarely urgent or even relatively significant.
You can use simple, free on-line tools or other technology to help you manage your communication channels. It will also help you to learn that not every notification is urgent and it will allow you to experience the concentration you can enjoy without the distractions.
#4 Balance your emotions
Psychological experts recommend a 3:1 balance of positive and negative emotions for optimal focus. Why is that? They found that your brain perceives negative emotions as threats which inhibits your ability to do other cognitive tasks.
Just taking a short break from stimuli that trigger negative reactions can help you keep this balance. And even better, replace it with an activity that triggers a positive emotion. Take a small break, listen to music, take a short walk. It helps you to keep balance.
#5 Practice mindfulness
Meditating for just a few minutes a day or developing other routines such as taking sufficient sleep, exercising, spending more time in nature, or think of 3 things you are grateful about just before you go to sleep, can have a noticeable impact on the ability to concentrate and focus. These activities help to organize yourself emotionally.
In our digital and innovative age, focus is the new challenge. And the hardest decisions to make is about all the things not to focus on!
According to Tim Cook, the most important lesson he learned from Steve Jobs is that focus is key and that you can only do certain things well. He revealed that Apple says no to many good ideas, to be able to work out the excellent ones.
Keep focused and improve your success.