How to Focus Fast

focus Oct 07, 2021

“Who you are, what you see, feel and do, what you love - is the sum of what you focus on.” This is a quote by Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work. The book is a deep dive into the ability to focus without distractions.


Focus is a gift in our distracted society. It’s a skill that allows you to produce better work in a shorter amount of time.


I’ve written about focus before here and here.


Today I want to focus (HA) on the way to get into the focus zone FAST!


A surefire way to create laser focus when you need to get stuff done is to create a routine to ritualize deep work.  In other words, you will be performing a series of tasks to signal to your body it’s time to go into focus mode.


This will minimize your need to lean on willpower to increase concentration.


Let’s say for example you decide right after reading this sentence that you need to finish planning your social media posts for the remainder of the month.  It will take some time (and willpower) to get your mind to refocus on the task of creating your social media posts.  If instead, you had a weekly ritual where you spent every Tuesday morning working on your social posts in a quiet environment.  Your brain enters a focused state much more quickly.


Newport suggests four different ways to build these rituals depending on what fits with your lifestyle. Thanks to VerbaltoVisual for the illustration.

The monastic approach works well for those that get totally absorbed in their work and have the luxury to do so.  The bimodal approach alternates between totally getting lost in your work and taking breaks to reenter the world. The rhythmic approach works well for most that have control over the hours of a normal working day.  Finally, the journalistic approach may be the most realistic for those of us that are living in the world of constant distractions.


Another important ritual to fit into your day is a shutdown ritual.  This is at a predetermined time each day (say you would like to end your day at 3 pm to pick up the kids).  You go through a series of shutdowns so you can switch your brain from work to relax mode.  This gives you a chance to relax and reset for your next focus session.


Let’s face it: Living and working deeply is a pain in the ass.


But the best work comes from creating deep focus.  Let’s find a system that works for you.

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You don't have to chose between your personal and professional life.  Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.

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