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How to Feed Your Focus and Improve Efficiency




Truly productive people feed their focus and starve their distractions

Many people have a real plan to get important stuff done - they are not necessarily lazy. They just don’t know how to stop feeding their distractions.

Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, argues that focus is the new I.Q. He says people who "cultivate their ability to concentrate without distraction will thrive" in the new world of work.

To feed your focus, start separating your urgent work from essential tasks. And most importantly, identify your distractions and how they starve your focus. Knowledge of your distractions can help you know how you are spending your attention.

For every focused work you want to do, identify the potential distractions and stop them before you get in the focus zone.

Deep workers often find that notifications, no matter how important the message, takes their deep focus away from the task, and it takes twice as long to get back to focus mode again.

"To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction," says Newport.

To feed your focus, create healthy work boundaries that allow you to concentrate on important tasks fully. Build a system that starves distractions. Create intentional constraints that allow you to assume focus mode.

When you’re "on," be fully on - use headphones, when possible. Put your phone out of sight, turn it upside down or block notifications. Aim to block internal and external distractions.

The ability to focus for about 30/40/60 minutes at a time is the only difference between truly productive people and those who struggle to get things done.

Measure your work and find the most suitable focused time that works for you. Your degree of focus determines how fast you make progress.

To make deep work sessions work, structure your day in chunks of focused work. Start your day with intention. What is the one thing you have to accomplish today? Start your focused sessions with that task.

Set up your environment to support your focus mode. And plan purposeful breaks in-between deep work sessions.

"One final insight about prioritizing involves getting disciplined about what you don’t put on the stage. This means not thinking when you don’t have to, becoming disciplined about not paying attention to non-urgent tasks unless, or until, it’s truly essential that you do," writes David Rock, in his book "Your Brain at Work."

Deep work is a habit. Working for long stretches at a time takes time to develop. You can start today. Do more focused work every day, and it will become a habit that helps you get real work done every week. Better routines are the secret habits of highly efficient people.

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