Successful entrepreneurs agree that the ability to stay focused is one of the most important qualities we can have when developing a new idea or launching a new business. But in today’s corporate world, distractions seem to lurk around every corner, and multitasking feels all too often like the only way to keep up, much less get ahead. So how do we let go of distractions and cultivate focus? As with so many other activities, the answer lies in a simple strategy: practice.
Experts agree that we can train our brains to stay focused, just as we can train our bodies to run a marathon, and that in fact, many of the same techniques apply to both types of training. For example, it’s important to start small; after all, you wouldn’t begin your first marathon training session by running 26 miles! Rather than sitting down at your desk in the morning with the goal of staying focused for the entire day, start with trying to focus for a very short period of time, like 15 minutes. As your concentration span increases, you can build up to longer and longer periods.
Another important part of focus training is noticing the times of the day and week when you are at your most effective. Marathon runners know that some times are better than others for going for a long run; similarly, there are particular times that work best for accomplishing tasks that require intense focus. Train yourself to notice when your mind starts wandering as opposed to when it feels easier to focus, and set up your work schedule accordingly.
Finally, don’t forget to take a break. Rest periods are an important part of any kind of training, as they allow us time to process what we’ve learned or experienced and give us a chance to rebuild our resources and energy reserves. Setting aside deliberate times for rest will help make your periods of focus that much more effective.