Laserlike Focus

Today I am going to write about something that often is overlooked as being one of the most important life attributes.  People fail to attain the heights they can achieve because they lack this simple (but not easy) characteristic.  Of course, when have you ever heard someone mention that he or she was working on improving the ability to focus?  My guess would be never.

The World Is For Multi-Taskers

Many believe that the way to succeed in life is to be able to handle multiple jobs simultaneously.  Let us be honest: it is a busy world.  There is a ton going on all the time and people are under greater pressure to do more in the allotted time.  Business moves faster than it ever did.  Technology ensures that we are in constant communication on a daily basis.  Cell phones, email, instant messaging, and a host of other devices require our attention.  The most successful are the ones who can navigate the waters of simultaneous action and get things done.

Enter the multi-tasker.  Here is the star person who can juggle all tings at one time.  We see this person advertised and esteemed all the time in the media.  The "supermom" who is able to hold down a successful career while running the kids around and taking care of her husband is shown to us as the model for this generation.  The picture of her handling multiple tasks at the same time is imprinted upon our psyches.

But is this really the most effective way to approach things?  The answer is a simple no.  Studies repeatedly have shown that multi-tasking is actually less effective than single tasking.  The reason is because it is impossible for the brain to consciously focus upon more than one thing at a time.  Hence, if one is multi-tasking, complete attention is not given to any single item.  The focus is split between the two actions.  Or is it?

If the brain can focus on one task at a time, how can attention be split?  It can not.  What actually occurs when one is multi-tasking is that the brain shifts the focus back and forth.  For example, if one is talking on the phone while watching the kids, the brain moves from the conversation to the kids and then back.  This happens in nano seconds but it does occur.  The shifting of the brain means that when it returns to the conversation, it not only has to pick up where it is again, but fill in the gap as to what was missed.  In other words, the quality of the conversation was downgraded.

Single Tasking

Nature is a wonderful teacher.  If we just open ourselves up and align ourselves to what is natural, success comes a whole lot easier.  Attending to a single task at one time is natural.  In fact, nature dictates that it is the only way for us to live.  Multi-tasking is a myth.  As was just shown, it is impossible for the brain to conscious tend to two things at the same time.  Hence, we are forced to focus upon a single task even if it is just for a split second.

From this point forward, accept the fact that your chore is to work on improving your focus.  This is done by embracing the idea that you are two tend to one thing at a time.  While we know there are situations like the example mentioned where two things have to occur at the same time, be mindful this is not the ideal situation.  Certainly, no rational person would say that watching the kids while talking on the phone could be considered quality time.  You role is to ensure that you approach all activities with the single-minded focus.  Multi-tasking is out the window.  Do what is in front of you to the best of your ability.

Laserlike Focus

Once we adopt the concept of doing one thing at a time, then we can start to work on the idea of developing our focus.  Obviously most are aware of the power that a laser has and why.  As compare to a shotgun which sprays pellets from a shell over a wider area, a laser targets all its power at one specific area.  The power that is harnessed is thrust upon the object with total force and accuracy.  Even the slightest movement to one side or the other will create a different result.  Power and accuracy are the two characteristics of this device.

How can we get this same effect in our lives?  Developing power and accuracy is done by conditioning ourselves to focus.  And by the way, this is not a novel idea.  Philosophers and religious teachers have promoted this idea for centuries.  Staying in the now is an example of a similar thought meant to focus our attention where it needs to be.

The best way to go about this is to realize that present moment thinking is required.  Whatever you are doing, the goal is to immerse yourself in that activity until it is completed.  Too often people are there physically while being absent mentally.  This is especially true when the activity is rather mundane like washing the dishes.  Quite simply the easier the task the less likely we are to focus upon it.  Yet it is this conditioning which enters into the more difficult situations.  We find that when we are in a position that requires our complete attention, invariably we unable to give it.  That is because the habit is not formed within us.

Hence, your challenge is to develop your focus by being 100% present in the mundane activities that you do.  I like to use household chores because they are simple enough and everyone is stuck doing them.  Today, when you have to tend to the dishes or cleaning the kitchen, notice where your mind is.  Attempt to focus exclusively at the task in front of you.  Do not talk on the cell phone or pay attention to the television.  In fact, if you can, for this exercise, turn those devices off.  Establish an environment where you can dedicate your total focus.  You will see how much more effective you are.

Another terrific way to harness the power of focus is to write up a list of 5 activities that you are going to do.  Again, in developing the ability to focus, I would suggest starting with 5 rather simple chores.  Write them down and go do them.  This will assist not only with focus but procrastination.  The key is to complete one action before going onto the next one.  It is the habit we are after as much as the results.  Focus complete attention until you can move onto the next.  That is how we are going to generate power and accuracy.

Try this for the next 30 days and see how much differently your life is.  The ability to focus is simply another characteristic which needs development.

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