Part 1: Understanding Focus - Chapter 1: The Focus Myth
Focus. Many people hear this word today and think of monks in faraway monasteries or ultra-marathoners that run for days on end. Maybe we all want more focus in our lives, but that’s for other people without jobs, families, and rush-hour traffic. We laugh and add it to the bottom of the list, below spending the night in a bubble bath or curling up with a book.
Being able to focus feels more elusive than winning the lottery. Believe it or not, this is what the world wants you to believe. The longer we spend distracted by our favorite television shows, the more commercials we see and the more companies benefit. This digital world is designed to tell us that focus is unattainable and that we have no other choice but to split our time between productivity and distraction.
Despite knowing what needs to be completed by the end of each day, we feel pulled in every direction. Even when we finally work up the motivation to sit down and start our taxes, we turn on the computer and see an alert about a friend’s birthday. One click on a shopping site to buy a present leads to an insatiable urge to buy a new soap dish. Hours pass, the deadline approaches, and the allure of social media gets stronger. We make friends with a large pot of coffee and spend the evening in a tug-of-war between the given task and everything else the world has to offer. Who knew there were so many videos of cats falling into bathtubs?
But what if I tell you that it is all a myth? Focus is there in every moment, just waiting for you to use it. No matter the stream of distractions flowing through your day, you have complete control over your time and how you spend it. Focus is still focus and it hasn’t changed since the first day that the caveman sat down to build a fire. The only difference today is that we need to be savvy about trapping focus and not letting it stray.
This book is for those who want to gain control of their productivity by discovering the elements that make up their unique focus formulas. Using simple techniques designed to maximize time and attention, it will become clear that modest changes can produce large results. We will examine everything from the construction of your to-do list to the strategic integration of activities you enjoy into your schedule. We will learn how to properly link your long-term goals to your short-term goals so as to increase motivation and how to properly shape your view of the present moment to get you through your most daunting and dreadful tasks. With this book, you will learn how to shape your focus formula so that it is easily implemented into your daily life and most challenging tasks. This is your journey and the world around you is your guide.
How to Use This Book
This book is designed to equip you with the tools necessary to craft a lifestyle in which you feel in control of your own focus and productivity. Through the development of a focus formula, you will learn what that lifestyle looks like for you. Whether you are a business owner with twenty years of expertise looking to revamp your strategies, or you are a student looking to survive your final exams, these techniques will help you discern how to optimize the focus in your life by paying attention to your natural interests, dislikes, and productivity tendencies.
Focus is unique to every individual, and so too will be your journey through this book. Some may find it useful to read from the first page to the last, and others may want to jump around. Some may want to complete the exercises on their computers, while others may want to use a journal to allow for further reflection. Regardless of your preferences, I would suggest transcribing the exercises into a separate computer document or notebook so that you can add to them as needed. The more thorough you are with the exercises, the more insight you will gain regarding your focus needs. This book is designed for you and, as such, needs to meet your needs. Feel free to adapt and manipulate these techniques and exercises as you see fit. This is your focus formula and the effectiveness of it will be reflected by the thought and work you put into developing it.
Even in this distracting world, there is no excuse for being unfocused and unproductive. You are in the driver’s seat of your own life and, with these techniques, you will become better equipped to steer in the direction of your choosing. Remember that you are in control. There’s nothing stopping you from making today the most focused and productive day you have ever had. Focus is not a miracle, but the results are nothing short of miraculous. So, read on and let’s get started.