How to train yourself to stay concentrated on a task.

This is a common problem nowadays: switching between browser tabs and apps on your phone, checking messages and email, thinking of the millions of things that you need to do but postponed…

Doing everything but focusing on one task at a time.

It's hard to get rid of the mental habit of switching, being distracted, allowing your mind to jump from one thing to another.

So how do you train your mind to focus more? It's probably better to concentrate, but I would not expect a 100% concentration during the whole period. Not even 80%, and possibly not 50%; simply better than how it is currently, which is more than enough to spot major differences in efficiency.

Start with asking ‘’Why?‘’:

Why should worry about this? It's best to think this through before diving into any plan because when things get uncomfortable, you are going to need to understand why. Otherwise, you will collapse at the first urge to switch focus.

This is important because the constant shifting and being distracted means time is being wasted, thus, the day goes by while you barely did anything significant. Your life is too precious to waste, so you want to make better use of your time.

Concentrating on one task at a time, at least during the day, will help you do the important things: write, program, study, take care of finances, create…etc. If you feel stressed by everything you have to do, unhappy with your lack of concentration ... then this one skill will help you make a difference.

So let’s move on to ‘’How?’’

The Method

It’s quite simple:

1. Select the Most Important Task (MIT). The first thing in the morning, before you call someone or go online, think about the things that you need to do. What will matter most in your life, your job? If you have more than one thing to do, it doesn’t make a difference ... just randomly pick one to start with. You can get to them later, don't waste your time hesitating; the goal is to practice with one task at a time. This one task you choose for today is your one Most Important Task (MIT).

2. Finding the perfect place to be creative and productive can be tricky, especially at home. In a home office, doing household chores, surrounded by distracting noises and constant interruptions, it’s impossible to work productively, on the other hand, isolating yourself in a quiet location can also be counterproductive.

For example, you can create a friendly atmosphere with the Defonic sound generator www.defonic.com which helps block unwanted noises and create an atmosphere which encourages calmness and productivity.

We are not born focusing. It’s an acquired skill that requires initial effort and constant upgrading. – Robert Genn

3. Do a 15-minute focus session. Once you start working for the day, remove all browser tabs, apps, and anything else you don't need for MIT. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

4. You only have two options. During those 15 minutes, you cannot switch to anything else (not checking emails, messages, social media, doing other tasks, cleaning your desk…etc.) You can only: a) Work on your MIT, Or, b) Sit and do nothing. These are your only options, watch your desires, but don't follow them.

5. Please communicate about this with your liable partner. Find a partner who will hold you accountable. Create a spreadsheet or use an accountability app that they can see.

That's all! One session per day for at least two weeks, if you managed it well, add your doing well, add a second session every day with a 10-minute break between sessions. If you faced any problems, stick to one session a day for the first month before adding a second session.

In approximately six weeks to two months, you'll be able to focus for two 15-minute sessions, and then add the fourth one when it becomes manageable, pause for a while and then add another session in the afternoon.

Some Important Tips

With this simple method in mind, there are a few key ideas:

  • Turn off the internet. For example, disconnect from WiFi or turn off your router, turn off your phone, close your browser, and any applications that you don't actually need. This is the ideal way. If you need the Internet for your MIT, close all the tabs except the one or two that you need to complete the task, and do not allow yourself to open anything else.

  • If you turned off the Internet, keep a pencil and a paper nearby, If you have an idea, a task that you need to memorize, whatever you want ... write it down on paper, you will reach them later, don't allow yourself to switch tasks.

  • It's common these days for people to go to their local cafes to work, which is what Wi-Fi technology has allowed. For some people, the informal atmosphere of a cafe has a positive effect on productivity. You can use the Hipstersound web-based app www.hipstersound.com to experience the atmosphere of your favorite coffee shop from home while enjoying the increased productivity.

  • Do not allow yourself to rationally postpone the session, it’s easy to think, "I'll get to this in a while," but you only delay it until late in the morning, and then until noon, and finally, you do it at 8 pm, just to say that you did it. This is not the purpose of this training; be conscious about justifications but don't fall for them.

  • However, don't strive for excellence, there will be days when you just can't do it - for example, when you are traveling or you when you have guests. If something important happened and you didn't have time for the session, do not worry about it; get back to it as soon as you can, worrying about continuing the streak is counterproductive.

  • If 15 minutes is too long, do 10 minutes, If it's still too long, do a 5 minutes session.

  • Increase the number of sessions as slowly as possible, don’t rush to do more. Focus on building a solid foundation.

OK, you have a method. Now get to practice!

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