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How You Avoid Distraction Traps and Develop Laser-Like Focus
Learning

How You Avoid Distraction Traps and Develop Laser-Like Focus

Focus is a critical life skill need to succeed, which many lack. Focus is when you can completely cut the world off from your brain and focus on task in hand. It is when you cannot see or hear anything other than what you are doing. This is one skill that differentiates one person from another and makes him or her out-do others.

Once the focus is broken it takes around 25 minutes to return to a project. Every time it's broken, you have to rewire your brain to start the entire process again. Focus is when you identify your most important task and give 100 per cent of your attention to it, without letting it break.

The three different types of focus

According to Daniel Goleman, a leading psychologist and expert in attention science, and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, there are different types of focus, "inner," "outer," or "other" focus, or focus on the self, other people, and the world around us.

Self-control, or willpower, involves placing our attention on a given task and keeping it there and that is the most important skill to develop. When we talk about concentration we talk about the latter.

How to avoid distraction traps?

Goleman in his book offers a research-based, four part practice - originally suggested by Emory University professor Wendy Hasenkamp.

  1. Focus on your breath
  2. Recognize that your thoughts have drifted off
  3. Let go of your current thought
  4. Focus on your breath again and stay there.

This four-step process is "one rep." Each time you lose focus, you should practice that rep. Goleman explains that this simple and challenging practice strengthens the brain's circuitry and lets you learn to focus without distraction in long-term.

It is exactly how the practice of Zen also works. Such meditation is also a way to strengthen the brain's attention circuitry. Goleman in one of his media interviews discussed about how he thinks Steve Jobs is one person who has such laser-like focus. He said that Jobs' single-minded focus shaped Apple's winning business strategy.

Practicing such self-control takes a lot of effort, but it pays off in the end. In fact, there is a study that proves this point. Called The Dunedin Study, over 1,000 people were assessed as children and later as adults and concluded that self-control can be learned. When you practice self-control, the brain circuitry becomes stronger with time.

(Also read: How To Keep Left And Right Brain Active Through The Day, Shares A Cognitive Science Expert )

(Image Credit: Thinkstock)

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