Do you find it hard to focus your mind on one single thing? When we are so used to spinning plates and multi-tasking, it can feel almost unnerving to focus on one thing. Focusing our minds on one thing is a luxury many of us think we can’t afford. But it comes with great benefits.
It turns out that multitasking is not as good as we think it is. It may feel like we are being super-efficient, but we’re not. The key to efficient productivity and quality lies in the detail. This can only be attained when we give our full focus to one thing at a time.
I’m here to tell you all about the incredible things that happen when you learn to focus your mind on one thing. I will include 5 easy tips for you to get started. I just need a few minutes of your undivided attention.
Why is it important to focus on one thing?
In general, we can’t excel in everything we do. We need to narrow down and focus on one thing at a time.
Interestingly enough, science tells us that when we decide to do something, such as quit smoking, or get fitter, our success is greater when we set out a specific intention.
We must say out loud or write down our intentions. This must include what we are going to do, at what time, and on what date.
However, here is the catch. We must focus on one thing at a time. James Clear, the author of the renowned book Atomic Habits, tells us that “people who tried to accomplish multiple goals were less committed and less likely to succeed than those who focused on a single goal.”
So, no more long lists of new year's resolutions. Decide on one thing to focus on and master it.
The impact of a chaotic mind
If my mind had its way, it would take a full-on scattergun approach to life. And truthfully, it’s exhausting. Friends used to marvel at how much I squeezed into life. But if I’m honest, I was in a perpetual state of anxiety. I had a gnawing dread that everything was going to cave in around me. And my results were always pretty average. Can you relate to this?
When I don’t set myself up for optimum focus, I suffer from a chaotic mind. A chaotic mind is the exact opposite of a focused mind. A chaotic mind has no focus. It is like a circus ride. It bumps around like dodgems and it spins us in circles like a merry-go-round.
A chaotic mind leaves us feeling anxious and reduces our productivity. Perhaps most worryingly, this article suggests we will never feel joy, contentment, satisfaction, and even love if we live life with a chaotic mind.
But, it isn’t all bad. New evidence suggests that a chaotic mind is also a creative mind. Just be careful here, as this can be exhausting in the long run. We still want to try and focus on one thing at a time.
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5 ways we can help focus on one thing
Focusing on one thing at a time is not as easy as it sounds. We are living in a time with information overload around every corner. We are constantly connected to devices. And more often than not our internal noise is louder than our external noise.
Here are 5 tips to help you focus your mind on one thing at a time.
1. Create a priority list
Before you can focus on one thing at a time, you need to know what to prioritize. This is where lists can come in handy. In fact, studies have found that people who create to-do lists are more successful than people who don’t.
Not all lists are made equal. It’s important to make things achievable. For instance, you could have a list of complex things you need to achieve and a list of simple things you need to achieve. So, you can weigh each item based on its complexity. Also, each item will have a different completion time scale.
From here, you can create priority lists and allocate a few different tasks per day and per week.
What really helped me is the habit of writing a list of what I have actually achieved each day. This helps me learn to focus on my accomplishments and feel satisfied, instead of dwelling on that overwhelming sensation when I realize how much you still have to do.
2. Take regular breaks
Think of the learning environment we have created for children. What do you notice? Did it occur to you that they have regular breaks? Perhaps most significantly, pupils in high school usually only study for an hour at a time before changing to the next class.
However, our adult world requires us to spend multiple hours at a time working on a task. But this can be ineffective, as breaks are crucial in order to remain focused.
I appreciate this may seem counterintuitive if we have a deadline fast approaching. But breaks are an essential part of facilitating our focus and maintaining high work productivity.
This article confirms that brief diversions improve focus. In reality, this may be as simple as working for 50 minutes and then taking 5 minutes to do some stretches, get a glass of water or listen to a song. Anything to break your attention from the task at hand. This refreshes your brain and recharges it to focus again.
3. Minimize distractions
There’s a reason distractions are kept to a minimum in high-pressure situations. Think of an operating theater or even the deafening silence during a snooker tournament.
The brain is a clever organ. When we are busy with a task that requires our sight, it reduces our hearing to make it easier for us to focus. Let’s take the hint and work with our brains to make things easier for us.
As I write this, my partner is busy shoveling gravel outside. So, I have helped reduce this noise distraction by moving to a different part of the house. I made sure my dog was walked, so he is content and not seeking my attention. My phone is on silent and the radio is off.
We all have different optimum working environments. If you aren’t too sure what conditions you work best in, start with complete silence. From there you can see if you need gentle background music or if that ticking clock needs to have its batteries removed!
Remember, you can indulge in distractions during your 5-minute break.
4. Find your flow
If you have ever experienced a flow state, you will understand exactly how beneficial this can be. According to this article, flow is defined as “a state of mind in which a person becomes fully immersed in an activity”.
No matter what you do, flow is available for you to tap into. Even in my running, I can find a state of flow. It is meditative and engrossing. It feels incredible.
Other benefits of flow include:
- Heightened enjoyment of the task at hand.
- Increase in intrinsic motivation.
- Increase in happiness.
- Greater learning and progress.
- Increase in self-esteem.
Flow allows us to give our full focus to the task at hand. Time evaporates whilst creativity and productivity flow with abundance. It is the ultimate state to be in if we want to focus on one thing at a time.
5. Adopt healthy habits
This may sound obvious, but it is hugely important.
If we are exhausted and sleep-deprived, it is difficult to focus. Let alone focus our mind on one thing. If we don’t look after our nutrition or our physical health, our well-being will nose dive. This can then impact our ability to concentrate.
Here are a few healthy habits to pay attention to:
- Improve your sleep hygiene.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of water.
- Take time each day for yourself.
Sometimes, it is just little tweaks here and there that can make all the difference.
If you want to know more, here are 7 mental health habits that you can incorporate into your life.
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If you are easily distracted, like me, this article should help you learn how to focus your mind on one thing at a time. This will help increase your productivity and satisfaction. Say o goodbye to the harmful consequences of multitasking, and learn to get in the flow by focusing on just one thing at a time.
Do you find it hard to focus your mind on one thing? If you have any other suggestions regarding how we can focus our minds on one thing at a time, I would love to hear them.