We have to decide what deserves our focus or attention. The span of our focus is guided by our intentions. In most situations, we choose whether to sharpen the spotlight of our focus or let it be relaxed. Fact to note with, when we allow automated systems like computers or autopilots to pay attention for us, the spotlight of our focus often dims, swinging here and there. If an emergency or adversity confronts us amid this situation, and we need to sharpen the spotlight of our focus, to provide an important answer to a question, we frequently find ourselves focusing on what is before us, even if it’s not the best option. As a result, our effectiveness suffers. In this age of automation, knowing how to manage your focus, stands crucial.
To continue with, creating mental pictures or telling ourselves stories about what is happening around us, what we expect, what success or having a productive day means to us, helps us to maintain our ability to direct our focus, instead of latching on the easiest and most obvious stimulus, at the expense of our productivity.
How to manage your focus or control your attention, for greater productivity, breaks out below.
1. Create Mental Pictures Of Your Positive Expectations
This approach is relevant for all dimensions of your life. For instance, as a nurse, you can carry around a mental image of what a healthy baby looks like. Forward with, the healthy mental image helps you to control your attention, by priming you to focus on those unexpected or problematic details. In consequence, you are able to detect a problem in time and deal with it before it escalates. Of a truth, mental pictures stimulate you to look beyond the most obvious details or information that is easiest to grasp.
Along with, as a parent, you can anticipate what a healthy dinner conversation sounds like. This mental model aids you to notice what goes unmentioned or a stray comment that deserves your attention.
2. Cultivate The Habit Of Generating Theories
Develop varied theories about all kinds of topics. Why certain accounts are floundering or flourishing. How different management styles impact different employees. Why some clients are happy or dissatisfied. Why there is strain between you and your spouse. This practice rouses you to train your attention on what matters, and make constructive decisions.
3. Invite Others To Challenge Your Ideas
As you throw out outdated ideas, for new, empowering ones, you control the spotlight of your focus.
4. Imagine How A Future Conversation Might Unfold
Mentally highlighting your agenda, the other person’s own, questions or issues that may arise, impels you to prepare in advance. This attitude prompts you to train the spotlight of your focus on what truly matters during the course of the real conversation. Benefit to, you rise to give productive suggestions and answers.
5. Envision Your Day
Tell yourself a story about your idea of a productive day. Imagine, as specifically as possible, what you expect to see and do when you arrive at your desk. This exercise motivates you to tune out distractions, and focus in a manner that enhances your productivity.
6. Choose A Maximum Of 5 Projects At A Time
Charles Duhigg (2006) reports that MIT researchers found that going for this number helps you to invest your time well and manage your focus productively. Differently, handling ten to twelve projects at a time, diffuses your focus and lowers your productivity.
7. Go For Projects That Require You To Cultivate New Abilities And Seek Out New Colleagues
This posture goes against the conventional wisdom that productivity rises when people do the same kind of tasks over and over. On a positive note, it motivates you to invest your attention on what matters. Plus, it helps you to scale up your profit rate.
8. Join A Project In its Infancy
By joining fledgling initiatives, irrespective of the risks, you prime yourself to beam your focus on new, beneficial ideas and information from your colleagues. In addition, this move positions you to claim ownership of an innovation.
Mental models or stories we tell ourselves about our positive expectations help us to choose where to direct our focus. As we focus on what matters, not on obvious details or information easy to grasp, we make better decisions that liven up our productivity. To certainty, knowing how to manage your focus motivates you to respond constructively instead of reacting unproductively.
Charles Duhigg, “Smarter Faster Better: The Secret Of Being Productive In Life and Business” (New York: Random House, 2016)