What is Focus?
Focus may be a difficult word to concisely define. It’s a noun and a verb, and it’s a fundamental term used in many spheres or circles in our lives. As a noun, it is defined as the center of interest or activity. This makes it a frequently used expression in the fields of Geology, Geometry, Physics, Photography, and Pathology – just to name a few. I think you get the point. As a verb, focus means to direct one’s attention or efforts. Concentrate.
Some synonyms for focus are target, spotlight, center, emphasize, direct, concentrate, and prioritize.
In an attempt to keep this blog short and simple, I will focus – I mean I will concentrate on trying to clarify focus, ways to maximize focus, and identify some of the benefits associated with focus.
To begin let’s direct our attention on a few targets of focus. Focus on your goals. Focus on your career. Focus on your strengths. Focus on being productive. Focus on the task at hand. Focus your energy. Focus on positivity. Focus your mind. Focus your attention. Focus on restraint. Focus on solutions. Just focus!
How does one focus?
To concentrate your focus on just one thing, you may have to ignore many other things. Part of focusing is decision-making. How to decide what’s important and how to focus your energy on the most important task at hand, while ignoring other things. In today’s technological world, other things might include text messaging, emails, social media, and all of the excuses that go along with convincing yourself how important they might be. Part of focusing is deciding to disregard distractions.
Many sources offer plenty of tips to help people focus on positivity. I will offer a few that have helped me along my path. I’d like to share my perspective of where focus is centered. In my opinion, there very well may be two places your focus is devoted. One emphasis is in the short-term – on the current activity, and another may be on the long-term – your overall perspective or level of concentration.
Short-Term vs Long-Term
To improve your focus in the short-term – on the task at hand, try to limit your focus, don’t multi-task, and eliminate distractions. A synonym for focus is the word spotlight. Think of your focus as a spotlight. Are you shining in one place or are you all over your stage? You have only the one spotlight, you can’t shine it on two places at the same time, that is trying to multi-task. Sure, you can try to go back and forth but one place on the stage – one task – is left in the dark, overlooked, or forgotten. When trying to multi-task, you’re bound to miss something. Another measure that will help you to boost your focus is to reduce the number of distractions that may be catching your attention. Don’t look at your smartphone or tablet, avoid text messages and email. Don’t look at your calendar, resist thinking about future appointments, holidays, vacations, or other breaks in your life; it’ll break you away from your focus. If you’re working at your computer, you may need to close your web browser or even hide your taskbar. If you like to listen to music while you work, try wearing headphones. Listen to classical or instrumental music without lyrics. As much as you might enjoy singing along to your favorite song, that probably won’t help you to stay involved and centered on your work. These are just some tips to help you stay focused in the short-term, on a current responsibility, objective, or effort.
To strengthen your overall focus for the long-term, try meditating, exercising, getting enough sleep, and keeping lists or even daily goals. An article from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that meditation produces long-term improvements in concentration and focus. It’s also been said that in addition to meditation, one can also enhance their ability to focus with affirmations, reflection, mindfulness, and being present. Goal setting also helps with focus. Even creating daily goals or lists of items to accomplish can help one to prioritize and boost focus. Practicing gratitude can build focus, some say to keep a gratitude journal. Working on gratitude and positivity helps with mindfulness and being present, which results in better focus. I’ve created and used a 4-1-1 Journal to help me with this process. I’d make daily entries listing four things for which I was grateful, I’d also list one of my goals that I worked toward that day and list one task I completed toward that goal. This helped me to recognize the positivity in my world and enabled me to stay focused on my goals. An attitude of gratitude helps to keep you positively focused.
You may have heard of the Four Agreements from Toltec wisdom. Briefly stated, the four agreements are “be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.” Perhaps that should be your focus when on certain social media platforms, or with life in general. Additionally, these suggestions, or agreements, will help you to focus on positivity.
Another helpful measure I practiced to improve my focus was something I call The Ten Dollar Rule. As mentioned in an earlier paragraph, part of focusing is decision-making. How do you decide where to focus your energy? This Ten Dollar Rule is an approach I started practicing in my college years. Time is money, we’d joke. And there may be some truth to that, as many would attest. I would apply the concept of money to the time and energy I’d need to prepare for a project or an exam. I’d say to myself that I only have ten dollars to spend and I’d ask myself how much do I need to spend on research, or on preparing for the paper, or preparing for the presentation. This helped me to focus the necessary amount of time and energy on my assignments.
Benefits of Focusing
Some benefits of being focused include feeling more positive. An increased sense of focus translates to better awareness – mindfulness – and you feel more in control. With this increased awareness, you may also formulate a better perspective of who you are. Awareness and reflection will lead you to have more clarity of thought which contributes to better decision-making and better problem solving.
From meditation to mindfulness to making lists to managing priorities, there is a myriad of methods to contribute to your concentration and fine-tune your focus, ultimately improving your life and livelihood.
Focus on Peace, Love & Gratitude
We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life, or you can focus on what’s right.
The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.
“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
~Alexander Graham Bell
“Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Focus on your character, not your reputation. Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes.”
~Roy T. Bennett”