Focus - The key to being productive

On July 13, 2012

Focus - The key to being productive

Today, while surfing casually through several websites across the Internet, a thought suddenly popped up in my mind. I realized that i was not being as productive since past few days, as i had been before. Trying to analyze the reason behind this, i found out the main reason for this loss of productivity.

The answer is focus.

Focus means concentrating our attention on something. Well, that's what the dictionary says. I think, it means to give in our whole body, mind and soul to doing a specific task. It doesn't mean just concentrating. Focus means concentrating 100% on one and only one task, that we are doing right now, at the present moment.

When i am completely immersed in doing something, i am able to do things in less time and with more accuracy. I am sure this applies to every one of us here.

Doing our work with complete focus has several benefits:

  • When we concentrate completely in doing a task, we commit fewer mistakes than when we do them casually or half-heartedly. 
  • We are more productive and thus, the same work requires less time to complete.
  • We are able to give our best to the task. So, the quality of our work also improves.
  • It actually makes our work easier. We are able to think more clearly and new ideas start emerging in our mind.
  • It also reduces stress. Since we are not worried about other things and are fully present in doing our current work, any worries that we have automatically goes away from our mind. 

If i go back and try to recollect the few times when i was highly productive, the reason behind them seems very obvious and also simple- i did my task with full concentration without thinking of anything else.

Whether it was winning some programming competition or succeeding in an interview or winning a game, the one thing that was most essential was giving it everything i had, without worrying about the results and without getting distracted by the surroundings.

Even though we know this, still, it's so easy to lose our focus and get distracted by other less important things. The reason this happens is, by nature, human beings prefer to do things that are easy to do or will give them some kind of instant pleasure.

So, while doing our work it's very natural that we think of checking some social networking site or read some article or do anything else for few minutes. But, instead of returning back to our work in few minutes, we end up spending too much time on these distractions. 

This happens because we always prefer to take the easier choice. Focus requires some effort on our side. But, once we get completely immersed in what we are doing, it becomes a bit easier.

But, how do we focus our mind to concentrate only on one task for extended amounts of time, say 30 minutes - few hours continuously? 

There is one solution that works for me. By removing every possible distracting thing from our sight. When the only thing visible to us is our current task, then it becomes much easy to concentrate on it.

For example, while writing this post on my Mac, i have hidden the dock, turned off sounds, switched my mobile to silent mode, disabled other apps that show notifications. So, the only thing i can see right now is the window on which i am typing.

When we turn off every possible distraction, it takes less effort to concentrate. I can work for hours like this without any outside interference. This automatically increases my productivity.

This is true for every kind of work. Sometimes, we can't control every thing and there are bound to be distractions. It becomes little difficult to concentrate in such circumstances.

Still, we should always try to keep the distractions as minimum as possible. Also, with regular practice you will find that it's possible to focus even when there is chaos around you. It's worth taking extra efforts in developing such habit.

But, distractions are not limited to what we see. A major source of distraction is our own mind. New thoughts continuously come to our mind every minute of the day. 

When our mind itself is away, there is no chance of concentrating on our work. Taming the mind requires much more practice and is probably the most difficult thing to do. But, this too is possible with regular practice.

With experience and practice you will be able to control your mind from distracting thoughts and will be able to recognize them as soon as they arise in your mind. Once you master this then even outside disturbances won't have any affect on you. You will be able to give your 100% anywhere, under any circumstances.

Developing such good habits requires some efforts from our side. If you have never done this before, it would probably require much more effort. But, once you develop these habits you will feel more satisfaction from yourself and the work you do.

I am so glad i realized this again today, and hence am really excited to write this post. If you think i have missed something, please let me know, and also feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

Image Source: Vince Alongi

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