Keep your attention, stay focused, and improve your performance.
Performing well at anything requires your undivided attention. Once your attention is focused, it needs to stay there for a reasonable amount of time.
Let’s first take this step-by-step, one thing at a time.
Attention is what you are doing right now. At this moment, what you are thinking about, what you are doing, and where your mental targeting is, decides the direction to which you are attending.
Focus is also attention, but is determined by the time that you spend giving your attention to something. It may also be referred to as your “Attention Span”.
Your performance is a direct result of your attention and your focus, and how you perform impacts the quality of the product that you produce.
Depending upon what you are trying to accomplish, your focus may change, and alter to suit the conditions of your work (or play).
When you do something that you really enjoy, your attention span will be noticeably increased.
When you play a video game, it seems like you can sit for hours without losing your attention on the play that is going on (we won’t count the potato chips consumed, the bathroom breaks, or the “Beverages” – adult or otherwise that likely take place).
Have you ever picked up a book and found yourself reading for an extended period of time? Maybe an hour or two went and you never noticed the two guys with masks who came in and stole your TV and stereo system. Just kidding – they weren’t wearing masks.
Your concentration can be so directed that you don’t even notice people moving back and forth in the same room. Your attention is completely focused on what you are reading (or doing).
As an aside, this is similar to self-hypnosis, where your attention is “Locked in” on one particular thing. Kind of like driving on a trip and not realizing that an hour went by and you can’t recall that part of the drive.
I find it curious how something can be right in front of you and you have trouble seeing it, or you can’t see it at all.
Can you spot all 5 horses?
Some say there are 7 horses.
Counting the legs it would seem that the
7 horse theory is inaccurate.
Loss of focus is usually called “Distraction”. I tend to call it
“Mental Suicide” as it can bury you 6 feet deep in personal turmoil.
Avoiding distraction is impossible. Controlling your distractions is the only thing that you can actually do to keep your performance healthy.
Just like the horse illusion, it is often very difficult to identify exactly what your distractions are, or where you may be hiding them.
Identify your distractions
Part of keeping your attention, and staying focused is being able to reduce your distractions, thereby making your efforts more valuable.
Distractions rob you of valuable time that you might otherwise be able to put to better use someplace else.
Getting distracted is something that will happen.
You may even unconsciously want to be distracted from what you are doing.
Unconscious distraction can be as sneaky as giving in to that cup of coffee that you just happen to realize that you want. Or that cigarette that, all of a sudden, you NOW have to have.
You tell yourself “I’ll just take a few puffs so I don’t waste any time.
Right! Now you’re not only wasting time, but you’re wasting your cigarette.
Knowing and identifying what your distractions are, is not that hard to do.
Learning to control and reduce your distraction can be more difficult.
Tips to reduce distractions
Since distraction controls you when it happens, you can waste an enormous amount of time doing something other than what was your intitial priority.
Here are a few things that you can do to reduce the amount of distraction that can come up and bite you in the…
You know where!
Number #1: Organize what you need to have for what you are going to do.
How often have you started something and you did not have everything that you needed handy and accessable?
What happens? You find yourself spending half of your time either retrieving, or looking for the tools, people, or information that you need.
Number #2: Monitor Yourself
You may have an extraordinary capacity for staying focused for long periods of time. You would be in a very small minority.
Chances are, you “Occasionally” find yourself in unrelated territory from where you started. Now you go back and re-focus your attention.
To keep this distraction at a minimum, you will need to ask yourself (before you go off track on a search somewhere) exactly how important this new direction will be to what you are now working on, and how much time will you allow yourself to be off your primary goal.
Always keep in mind that you can temporarily suspend parts of a project, and work on other portions of the work.
#3: Eliminate known distractions before you start working
You may not know ALL of the things that will distract you when you work, but you do know some of them.
A memory refresher
=> Turn off your phone. Unless you absolutely need it, you don’t need to be
interrupted by some spam call
=> Ignore your email and other messages (unless you need them for the work)
=> If you work at home, then take your dog out, put the kids to bed (or just
keep them busy for a while), and keep your cat out of the room in which you
are working, or you will find that your cat knows more about using your
computer than you do.