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focus, concentration etc.

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  • focus, concentration etc.

    How do you increase/keep your focus/concentration on a specific subject/matter (tips, tricks, techniques,...)?

  • #2
    Book Recommendation

    A very good book on this subject is Conzentrate: Get Focused and Pay Attention--When Life Is Filled With Pressures, Distractions, and Multiple Priorities by Sam Horn. It is very readable and contains a lot of techniques to work with.

    It is now available in paperback.

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    • #3
      Increased concentration is a primary goal of the GTD system. By getting all your mental distractions out on paper in a system that you know you'll refer back to, you won't suffer from those distractions as often.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Brent
        Increased concentration is a primary goal of the GTD system. By getting all your mental distractions out on paper in a system that you know you'll refer back to, you won't suffer from those distractions as often.
        I'm not so much wondering about distractions by untracked things but rather about distractions by other people/events surrounding you when you have to focus, distractions by yourself thinking about things that are already collected, processed and waiting for e.g. change of context (while the task at hand needs to be done now) etc.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis
          A very good book on this subject is Conzentrate: Get Focused and Pay Attention--When Life Is Filled With Pressures, Distractions, and Multiple Priorities by Sam Horn. It is very readable and contains a lot of techniques to work with.

          It is now available in paperback.
          Thanks, I'll have a look at that!

          Comment


          • #6
            It doesn't bother me to think randomly about things that are collected, processed, waiting for's, etc. If everything is in its proper bucket, I find that it's possible to think more creatively, sometimes devising unique approaches to some issues or fresh ideas on how to solve other problems. These thoughts sometimes pop up at random, out of context, and without warning. By having the assurance that everything is in its proper place, I'm free to think about it or not think about it as I please, knowing that whatever is not on my mind at the moment will be when it's necessary. I don't see that as a distraction - it's liberating.

            People & events are another issue.
            On the FAST CD, David says something to the effect that people are absolutely essential for warm personal contact, but for the most part they are a royal pain when you are trying to be productive. Unless you have complete control of your time & surroundings and answer to absolutely no one else, you can't avoid these distractions. GTD simply offers techniques to help you continually refocus and recalibrate as these distractions rear their ugly head througout the day. Some of them are interruptions, others are very important opportunities. Occasionally one is significantly more important than anything you are doing at the moment. GTD helps you to herd all these interruptions & distractions into their proper corrals.
            Last edited by spectecGTD; 05-31-2005, 08:03 PM.

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            • #7
              I am still learning and train myself on this but I have a tip that want to share. If you are working a specific task on your desk. Clean up your desk with the only things you need. Turn off your computer, forward your phone, mobile etc. This will help you focus.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by eno
                distractions by other people/events surrounding you when you have to focus
                Close the door. Don't answer the phone. If somebody physically interrupts you, the first words out of your mouth can be, "I'm sorry, I'm busy and can't talk right now. You'll have to come back at (time)."

                Or is that not working for you?

                Originally posted by eno
                distractions by yourself thinking about things that are already collected, processed and waiting for e.g. change of context (while the task at hand needs to be done now)
                If you have everything -- and I mean everything -- out on paper, your mind won't do much of that. Honest. And when it does distract you, you can get that distraction off your mind almost immediately by putting it on the appropriate Someday/Maybe or Project list.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brent
                  Close the door. Don't answer the phone. If somebody physically interrupts you, the first words out of your mouth can be, "I'm sorry, I'm busy and can't talk right now. You'll have to come back at (time)."

                  Or is that not working for you?
                  Of course.

                  However, I was thinking of ideas on how to stay focused on things on your own rather than when you are being distracted by others.

                  If you have everything -- and I mean everything -- out on paper, your mind won't do much of that. Honest. And when it does distract you, you can get that distraction off your mind almost immediately by putting it on the appropriate Someday/Maybe or Project list.
                  Yeah, that way I could keep adding to lists ad infinitum (not necessarily next actions but rather ideas in general, details etc.).

                  So, in short, it's a bit like ideas on how to not let your mind wander elsewhere for too long (to e.g. doodle or just muse about random possible outcomes, ideas etc. about something). That's less being concerned about a subject but rather playing with it, imo.

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                  • #10
                    I struggled with the same thing for months, but for GTD to work properly you have to collect EVERYTHING. I worked out that the reason my mind kept wandering was because I was resisting capturing things for fear of my lists getting longer and longer ad infinitum. The way I deal with it now is to allow myself to note down anything that's distracting me, and throw the note into "In". That gets it off my mind so I can concentrate on whatever I ought to be focussing on. Sometimes I find I'm spending an hour at a time just emptying my mind of random thoughts to throw into "In", but if I don't do that I can spend a whole day being unable to concentrate on any one thing because of all the things my brain keeps interrupting me on.

                    I then have to discipline myself later to process all those notes I've put into "In". I usually find I trash a lot of them and the rest end up on various lists (I have some very long lists, but if I keep these lists organized into logical sub-lists this is liberating rather than distracting).

                    If I get behind with my Intray processing I have a temporary solution: I go through "In" quickly and take out all the notes that I know are so unimportant that it probably wouldn't matter if I processed them or not, but that for some reason I can't bring myself to throw away just yet. I put these notes in a big box. Every so often, when I'm in the right mood, I go through this box and "process" what's in it (this usually involves throwing 90% of it away, and adding the other 10% to my lists).

                    That's just my way of dealing with it - it might not work for all personality types, but it seems to be working for me. I'm finding that the amount of time I spend being distracted is reducing, and I'm able to spend more time concentrating and focussing on what my intuition tells me I should be focussing on.

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                    • #11
                      I think you could label your big box 'incubate'.

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                      • #12
                        Well, I don't really think of my big box as an incubating bucket, as most things in it become irrelevant and die before I get around to processing them - it's just my way of deferring processing unimportant stuff at times when I've got more pressing things to concentrate on. Moving things to my big box stops the In Tray overflowing, which is important because if the In Tray's too full I start to feel stressed!

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                        • #13
                          focus

                          Brenda, your post was a sight for sore eyes, on a gloomy Friday. You stated your circumstances, actions, and progress is a way that will help a lot of us. Thanks you.

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                          • #14
                            I read this on another website:

                            “If a car bomb went off you would definitely lose your focus - now imagine holding ONTO your focus with that same absoluteness”.

                            Another: in “Unleash the Warrior Within” Richard J. Machowicz reminds us that focus really IS like a laser beam. A torch or lamp will spread and become fuzzy at the edges. A laser on the other hand remains as hard and defined as a diamond. If you really focus on a piece of work, none, and I mean none, of your attention will be on anything else.

                            I read on a Zen website a reminder that concentration is not a matter of somehow “straining” to stay on target: it is a matter of suppressing thoughts about anything else so that the only thought in your mind is the target subject.

                            Dave

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                            • #15
                              Hmmm. I always thought the idea was not to suppress other thoughts, but to train oneself so as to only think about one thing at a time, even if that "thing" is nothing.

                              GTD has helped me tremendously with this, incidentally, by getting all my distracting thoughts out of my head. I live much more in the moment now, and pay attention to my surroundings more.

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