Why You Need to Flex Your Focus Muscle Daily!
In all my years researching ways to enhance one’s productivity, one assumption has really bothered me. We’ve been under the false impression that we should simply be able to sit down and focus, and when we can’t, we think that there’s something wrong with us. To focus deeply on a task for an extended amount of time is not something that you can just ‘do’, unlike how you can clean your desk, pack your bag, make your lunch, or write out a to-do list. This kind of focus takes practice. We expect that we should be able to turn on our focus like a light switch, but this is not the case. And our ability to focus and for long enough periods of time to enter a state of deep productivity is getting worse. Why? The answer is simple. We need to train our focus muscle. Like any muscle in our body, we need to flex it regularly and for long enough.
People who jump from task to task, fragmenting their attention and all too often spending their mental energy on unimportant time wasters, are going to find it particularly challenging to sit down and focus on important work when it counts. Think of it like this: You don’t just eat healthy one day a week or exercise once a month to keep your fitness or health in check. To see a real improvement and long-term positive change, you need to have a regular fitness routine and healthy diet.
The same goes for your focus muscle. You can’t expect to be your most productive self and find yourself in a deep state of focus if you don’t regularly allow your mind to concentrate on one task at a time for long enough. When you regularly allow yourself to be distracted by others or by your own impulses, it has an impact that reaches beyond the task at hand. You aren’t allowing yourself to flex your focus muscle and this creates a cycle of unproductive behaviour that only you can break. You may have heard the term, ‘weapons of mass distraction’, because these seemingly harmless incidences and behaviours aren’t so harmless after all.
Next time you are standing in a cue, waiting for the kettle to boil, sitting in a café waiting for a loved one, resist the impulse to reach for your phone. This can also be applied to whenever you engage in any activity of any kind. If you’re watching TV, reading a book, cooking, walking, shopping, or painting, allow yourself to be fully present and be in the moment. You don’t need a constant stream of stimulation. Trust me, your mind and heart will thank you!
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