Do you want to increase your ability to focus and gain discipline consistently? In this post I want to provide a practical exercise to increase your daily focus, and increase discipline over a period of time. If you do this exercise consistently over a week, you will notice a significant improvement. I am not by any means completely effective, but this exercise has definitely been a game changer for me.
Our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. This is a scientific fact. We like to think we are effective multi-taskers. The truth is that we can become better at task switching, but it is not the most efficient way to get things done. It takes time to task switch, and dilutes focus.
One common piece of advice from the most successful people, is to only focus on one goal at a time if possible. If you are focused on growing your business, do your best to just stay focused on that. This is not an easy discipline to develop, especially when so many of life’s demands are coming at us.
On a micro level, we also need to limit the items we focus on the same way. This will keep us from diluting our focus, and make each minute of effort more effective. It will also make us more aware of our environment, which will keep us more alert overall. Your unconscious mind is really good at alerting you of change in your environment. If you are intentionally focused on fewer things at time, you have more capacity for overall awareness
The first step in getting more focus and discipline in your day is to be completely aware of what you are up to. Our minds get really busy, and sometimes we aren’t conscious of just how busy our minds are. I recommend taking five or ten minutes twice per day to do the following two-part exercise.
- First find a quiet place first thing in the morning, and some other time later in the day. Sit or stand someplace comfortable. Take a deep breath, and then continue to focus on your breath in and out for the next few minutes. If you notice any thoughts coming up, just acknowledge them but don’t react to them. Go back to focusing on your breath. Do this for around five minutes. You will find your mind a little calmer and clearer. It is normal when you are getting started to have a hard time staying focused. The fact that you notice it, just means you are making progress.
- Next just think specifically about what you want to get done for the rest of your day. You may want to write them down as well. As you do this, you may find your mind jump to other things. You will notice this because of the first exercise. This is a good thing. When your mind begins to generate thoughts, just go back and focus on what you want to accomplish for the rest of the day.
If you have tried this, let me know how it has helped you.
Once you have done the exercise just go back to your day and execute on what you want to get done. Throughout the day try to keep this awareness. I will often take a minute or so, several times a day to just take a deep breath, and just focus on my breath in and out.