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Focus and effectiveness

I would like to highlight an aspect of Focus that really supports us in success in life. Effectiveness. Effectiveness is all about how effectively we use our brains capacity. I think it comes as no surprise that our brains have an enormous capacity but that we spend a lot of its capacity on irrelevant stuff. Irrelevant stuff basically means all the things that you do not need to pay attention to, but we do because we get caught in thought trains or distractions.

How does Focus increase effectiveness?

When you practice focus meditations you have an edge when it comes to picking out the most relevant stimuli to focus on. Those who practice consistently are able to limit how much attention they pay to irrelevant sensory input and thus perform better in tasks demanding selective attention.

It inhibits the brain’s tendency to consciously process distracting information, including thoughts relating to future or past event (which is often where our worries and pre-occupations lie). Frequent meditators have been found to perform particularly well in executive control attention as compared to non-meditators.

How can you increase your effectiveness?

Well, you know the best way – meditation. Constantly bringing your attention back to one point of focus. We have been practicing this and it as always great to do two or three focus meditations a week.

We can also help our focus in daily life with a couple of simple (but simple does not mean easy…) cognitive tricks:

  1. Try to limit multitasking. Multi-tasking is a myth, it is actually your mind focussing on different things for very short periods of times, as if every second or two you are focussing on something else. You can imagine that this creates unrest and also inhibits you from performing either task to your ability or enjoyment. Try to do one thing at the time, for work, try to stay with a task for at least 50 minutes. If you read a book, try to stay with it for this period of time as well. If this sounds daunting start with 20 minutes and build up.
  2. Do the every day mundane things with your full attention. When you are making your coffee, do that. When you are walking from a to b (even if it is from your desk to the toilet) try to be present for that. Use this activities for focus meditation while going about your business. You will notice this is hard to remember, and on the days that you have not managed to do any of the mundane task with your full attention you will probably be feeling scattered and a bit tired. Notice this and try again with the next mundane task. It is not about perfecting this, it is about becoming aware of these moments and taking these moments to focus your mind. Mindfulness is something we can bring to all activities in our lives and this is a great way to practice.