How does Focus work?

If you’re interested in personal performance like me, no doubt you’ve read a lot about focus and energy management the last few years. New Studies claim that focus and willpower is like a tank of gas that runs dry if you use it to much during the day. Other New Studies shows that meditation (the practice of focusing and refocusing for short periods of time) increases focus.

So which is it? How does focus work? I think their both right.

Focus seems to work very much like a muscle, if you deliberately practice it, you can focus deeper and with more control (i.e. it gets easier to start and stop focusing). But it also seems to work a lot like endurance, the more time you spend focused, the less mental energy you’ll have at the end of the day.

Which is why I try to focus deliberately, constantly nudging myself when I get distracted, and take resting very seriously. You can’t work with perfect focus forever. You might be able to effect how much you can focus, but always be aware of your limits. When I step beyond my limits, I get annoyed, cranky, feel frustrated about not getting anywhere, and spend even more energy that I don’t have. It’s a slippery slope.

How do you manage your focus?

The surprising effect of boredom

I've spent years trying out all the tools and tips for increasing productivity I could lay my hands on. Hundreds of apps, and services. Tips for sleeping. Hacks for staying focused. They all worked.

Each one increased the number of todos I checked off my lists. At least for a day or two. After that the search was on for whatever could help me improve more. I'm not even sure now if the methods failed as novelty wore off, or if I just got bored and started looking for my next fix.

The problem is that time went by and I wasn't actually getting anywhere. My todos were demolished but poured in ever faster,and I never really achieved what I wanted.

I had become an efficiency junky.

I'm not sure when the turning point came. But over the last few years my projects are reaching further, quicker. My todo lists shrank, as did my working hours, but my output increased.

What did I spend the rest of my time on? Being bored. Nothing I've ever tried has increased my output or my mood as much as being bored. Boredom has a bad reputation, but it seems to focus my mind.

I've come to enjoy being bored. Even try to find time to be bored. Not that I enjoy the actual boredom, but I do enjoy the simplicity that comes after it.

Like meditation but without the training. Being bored for a few minutes, by yourself, can make all the difference in a stressful day.

Try it. It's free.