Stop thinking about productivity, and start thinking about focus.
If you’ve clicked on this article, you’ve probably seen a bunch of content with similar tips to boost your focus and productivity: make a schedule, get dressed, have a designated work environment, and ensure you get enough sleep and exercise. But while all of those tips may be true, they imply that focus is something that can be dealt with topically, that you can just tweak some aspects of your daily schedule and focus will magically appear.
The truth is a bit more complicated. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you’re willing to actually face the facts and begin a practice of focus, then the improvements you’ll see both at work and in your day to day life will be exponential.
So let’s weed out the facts from the overly-circulated hacks.
1. Focus is a state, not a result
Like all important things in life, focus takes practice, and it doesn’t just appear magically over night as a result of trading in sweatpants for slacks to wear at your home-office.
To understand how to focus better, we need to have a more clear definition of what focus is.
Often when we talk about focus we are actually talking about the results of focus, not the experience itself.
A lot of the current conversation about focus undermines itself before it even begins, because it tries to use focus rather than actually grow it. As long as we are treating focus like an object we can squeeze productivity juice out of, no one’s habits (or indeed productivity) is going to be radically changed.
Think about it: if achieving focus was as simple as following ‘5 focus hacks’, wouldn’t we all be enlightened, focused beings by now?
Focus isn’t getting more things done in the day, earning a promotion, or responding to every email.
So what is it?
Perhaps the thinker who has contributed most meaningfully to the science and philosophy of focus is the American-Hungarian psychologist…