How to Focus for Better Living

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I once thought that focus meant you never got distracted. I was wrong.

A person with a powerful focusing ability gets as distracted as the next guy. The difference is that the Focus Master has learned to recognize distraction and gently guide his thoughts or actions back to the intended task at hand.

That simple skill is rare and remarkably powerful. Pay attention to every word of this two-step process:

1. Recognize that your mind has wandered, and

2. Gently let go of the distraction and return to your intended thought or action

Practice this skill once a day for twenty-one days, and you will gain a tactical advantage over ninety-nine percent of the population.

Here are some practical ways to practice:

At the computer:

1. In a fairly quiet place with your computer, go to http://www.online-stopwatch.com/ and select the countdown timer.

2. Set the timer to three minutes for the first week, and increase by 2 minutes each of the following two weeks.

3. Before you start the time, think of the word that best describes what you need most. Choose a single word, like “freedom” or “perseverance.”

4. During each session, try to feel what it would be like to have what you’re asking for. Don’t think about it or describe it: feel it.

5. Start the time, and close your eyes, focusing on the feeling of your word.

6. As your mind wanders, recognize the wandering. Acknowledge it. Let it go. Gently guide your feelings and thoughts back to the word and the feelings associated with achieving that word.

7. Repeat step 6 until the timer sounds.

8. Open your eyes, silence the timer, and write yourself a short note about the experience.

Variations:

1. During breakfast, try focusing exclusively on every aspect of the food you’re eating. Enjoy the crap out of every bite. As other thoughts intrude, let them go and gently return your thoughts and feelings to the food that fuels your body and mind.

2. While driving, turn off the radio and your cell phone. Concentrate on the act of driving, the sound of the car, the activities of other drivers. Focus on the variety of sensations and driving styles you witness. If you start to get angry or distracted with thoughts of work or home, acknowledge the distraction and guide your mind back to the rich world of driving.

You can probably come up with your own ideas for variations. In any event, practice for three, then five, then seven minutes every day for twenty-one days. You’ll become a master of focus. You’ll make decisions faster and more effectively. You’ll find that you can accomplish more work in less time. And you’ll feel far less stress in everything you do.