Four Exercises to Increase Focus

Sep 19, 2013 | Productivity | 0 comments

Multitasking is a productivity pitfall. We all know it, but we just can’t seem to break the habit. We are so ingrained with the idea of needing to get numerous things done at once that in order to stop multitasking we actually have to recondition our brains. We have to learn to focus.

So to help you with the brain drain, here’s four ways to help break the multitasking addiction. Before beginning the exercises, take this focus test developed by Stanford University. Note your results. Then take the focus test again after you’ve practiced honing in on ONE Thing at a time.

Exercise #1  – Meditation

Meditation is a physical exercise for your overloaded prefrontal cortex. Stress management experts like Stacey Shipman agree that through the simple act of settling your mind, you’re actually building focus that helps you determine the steps you need to take to reach goals. The best times of day to try meditation are right after you wake, during lunch and at the end of the work day.


Step 1: Sit in a comfortable posture, wherever you’d like.

Step 2: Cross your legs and clasp your fingers in your lap.

Step 3: Close your eyes.

Step 4: Relax and free your mind of all thought. No chanting, no mantras, nothing.

Step 5: Observe your breathing. Don’t force it or change your natural breathing pattern, simply tap your consciousness into the breathing.

Duration: 15-30 minutes, once a day.


Exercise #2 –Time Block Your Calendar

When you block out your day so that you’re doing just ONE Thing at a time – guess what? You’re more likely to just do that ONE Thing.

Step 1: Block your rest/time off time.  It’s important to time block your off time first, that way you’re sure to get the much needed downtime you earned through being efficient.

Step 2:List out all of the things you want to accomplish at work and in your personal life over the next seven days.

Step 2: Start eliminating things. Ask yourself what matters most. Remove things from your list that don’t matter.

Step 3: Take a look at your shortened list. What matters the most on that list? The ONE Thing that matters most is your priority. Time block 3-4 hours in the mornings for this focused work.

Step 4: Fill in the rest of your day, prioritizing your more important tasks earlier in the day.

Step 5: Follow the time block schedule as closely as possible.

Duration: Once a week, at the beginning of the week.


Exercise #3 – Read and Rewrite

The more we’re able to focus and concentrate on a single task, the more information we retain. This exercise shows how well you can hone in on what you’re doing.

Step 1: Read a short article from the web or newspaper.

Step 2: Write a short summary of the article, without referencing it.

Step 3: Compare your summary to the article to see how well you summed up the information.

Duration: 3-4 times a week.


Exercise #4 – Disconnect Four

There are a lot of screens that distract us from focusing on a singular task. See how long you can go before feeling the urge to look up something on the web, look at emails, check calls, send texts and IM.

Step 1: Time block a portion of each day where all of your electronics are turned off – your phone, tablet, TV and computer (unless you’re working on it).

Step 2:Each day make the time block 10% longer than the day before.

Step 3:  Use the seventh day’s disconnect time block as your benchmark for staying unplugged the rest of the year.

Duration: Every day for a week.

Filtering out the distractions and focusing on ONE Thing at a time isn’t something that will be mastered in a week. Stick to the exercises and slowly your pre-frontal cortex will become an attention seeker rather than a multitasking mess.

Want more help sorting through the mess and reaching your goals? Check out The ONE Thing App!