Welcome again to our productivity mind hacks series! On our previous mind hack post, we discussed techniques to improve learning capacity. In this post, we’ll learn how to get more focused!
Improving the way we work is an ongoing process. It requires paying attention to certain aspects of our behavior, changing impulsive habits, modifying the tools we use and much more.
But all of the above mentioned modifications can take a while to develop and implement – and sometimes we don’t have the time for it, we need a quick fix!
So we start by making our environment distraction or temptation proof. Some argue that disconnecting from the world outside and focusing on the task at hand helps. Others recommend changing our environment since a change in scenery can help us become more creative and productive. Among the supporters of changing your environment to keep things fresh was writer Truman Capote, who wrote his novels in motel rooms or while taking a long train ride between New York and Chicago.
But alas, environmental modifications sometimes don’t suffice and we realize sometimes that in order to do our job we need to fight against a much more cunning foe, our brain. The enemy we’re fighting knows every trick we’ve got and is not going to give up easily.
So how can we fight an enemy that knows our every move?
In three words: mindfulness, belief and commitment!
We wander a lot
Mind wandering is linked to impairments in working memory capacity, fluid intelligence and even SAT performance.
Recent research suggests that practicing deliberate mindfulness can improve your focus dramatically and ward off the negative effects of wandering.
So before you begin a challenging task, invest a few minutes in a meditative state (e.g., deliberate mindfulness) that will help you be more mindful. The meditative state that accompanies the practice of mindfulness helps further your focus by tuning out distractions and increasing alpha waves; the brain waves who are responsible for creativity, inspiration and controlling our emotions.
Practicing mindfulness is also good for calming down in stressful environments since it drops your blood pressure levels.
Practicing mindfulness gets you into the zone!
Our brain has the ability to shape our willpower
You probably heard this one before on some motivational poster: If you believe in something you can make it happen.
Our will power is a valuable resource, when spent it’s hard to replenish it…Or so you been lead to think.
Until recently, we thought that the amount of willpower we possess is limited and individual. The common misconception is that the amount of willpower we possess is either controlled by a continuous supply of glucose, sleep, or the amount of decisions we made.
A recent study suggests differently; that our willpower is totally suggestive at its base, if you believe that you can do something it will happen.
If you’ll believe that your willpower is limitless, then you’ll have limitless willpower. You may eliminate fatigue while working on hard cognitive tasks and you’ll be able to work longer hours on difficult tasks.
All you have to do is believe.
And last but not least – commit to insane deadlines!
By committing to an extremely tightly self-imposed deadline, you improve your ability to perform a task and push yourself beyond what you thought was previously possible.
Instead of giving yourself slack and spacing out tasks across your schedule, try to push yourself a bit. I know that it sounds a bit counterintuitive; however, pushing yourself to achieve the impossible is the only way to actually achieve it.
Giving yourself too much slack sends a message to your brain and reduces a needed stress level you have to maintain in order to achieve a task.
So be aggressive, set insane deadline that will make you sweat.
Until next time!