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body brain alliance focus audit

3 Things You NEED TO KNOW To Improve Your Focus

Ready to improve your focus so you can get more done? Let’s talk about it!

Focus is a tricky conversation in the behavior change space because a lot of people want to focus better. 


However, there are a lot of factors that play into whether we’re focusing well or not… Including factors like Neurodivergence and ADHD. I’m not going to speak to either of those in this blog simply because I am not an expert in those subjects. It doesn’t make any sense for someone who doesn’t have expertise to give you advice on those particular things. 

 

However, I will tell you that my name is Dr. Karin Nordin, and I have a PhD level expertise in behavior change, which means that my knowledge is all centered around how we change the actions we do in our day-to-day lives. Focus is a big part of that. 

SO IN THIS BLOG, YOU’RE GOING TO LEARN ABOUT THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ORDER TO FOCUS BETTER.

 

Prefer to learn on video? Watch here: 

1. Focus Is Not A Skill

 

A lot of people think they need to get better at focusing, and while there is a certain amount of growth that you can have there… It probably is more empowering to you to think about focus as a product of certain conditions. 

I like to think about focus as similar to temperature. 

 

Whether I feel hot or cold is more dependent on what’s going on around me, rather than my willpower or discipline. This is the same thing with focus. I can’t just try harder in order to focus better. 

 

I have to change the conditions around me in order to put my body in a state where it can focus better. And so that is the first mindset shift you’re going to want to make. 

 

If you want to improve your focus, I want you to actually start paying attention to the external factors that make focusing easier or less easy for you.

In order to do that, you can conduct a focus audit. 

Here’s how to do a focus audit: 

*Keep reading and then I want you to share your answers in the comments section below. 

 

Step 1: Identify One Time In Your Life When You Focused Well 

Identify one time in your life (preferably in the last two years) where you have focused extremely well. Think of a moment where you’ve been in complete flow and you’ve lost hours of time because you were so immersed in what you’re doing. 

 

After your identity this specific time in your life, move to step 2. 

 

Step 2: Audit The Environment

What was around you? 

What could you see and hear and smell? 

Did you have headphones on? 

What level of stimulation was around you? 

What was happening in your actual work task? 

Was it a small task or a big task? 

What were you actually working on? 

 

I want you to write a description in the comments below of what was happening when you were in that extremely focused state. 

 

Then you’re going to move to step number three. 

 

Step 3: What Can You Learn From That? 

For example, I can remember one of the times that I’ve been most focused in my life was when I was writing my master’s degree thesis. 

 

I remember that I would go to Panera every morning, get there by nine o’clock, drink a coffee, put in my headphones, and then I would bang away at my thesis. 

 

I had a whole week blocked off with nothing else that was going on, and that was my only job. 

 

What I can learn from that experience is that: 

#1: Having a novel environment somewhere new like a coffee shop or a different workspace is really helpful for me.

 

#2: Having an appropriate level of stimulation, so using deep focus

playlists is really helpful in creating the condition of focus. 

 

#3: I need to have a crystal clear idea of exactly what I’m working on. When I was doing that thesis, I would set mini goals for every single hour of work, and that kept me driven. 

 

Now these three principles that work for me, might not be the same thing for you. But if I take those three principles and I apply them to my work style, now I can create the conditions by which my brain focuses.

 

Therefore, I can have more focus within my life. 

So we just covered two of the points on how you can focus better. 

 

1. Recognize That Focus Is A Condition, Not A Skill.

2. Do A Focus Audit. 

 

Ready for the third one? 

 

3. Set Realistic Expectations For How Much Focus You Can Achieve In A Day

A lot of people expect themselves to focus for eight hours straight because that’s the traditional American work week or workday. 

 

What I want to remind you is that the eight hour workday was crafted when workers were mostly doing physical labor in factories. 

 

Can you do something in a factory for eight hours straight? 

 

Yes, but when the majority of the American workplace switched and was actually more about intellectual work… We somehow kept the expectation that an eight hour workday is realistic, and in fact it’s not. 

 

I want you to ask yourself: 

Would you expect to be able to hold a heavy dumbbell above your head for eight hours straight? 

 

No, you absolutely would not.

 

But what if you held a dumbbell for 30 minutes and then you were able to put it down for a while and then you held it another 30 minutes and then you put it down? 

 

You would probably get a lot longer out of that dumbbell holding if you took the breaks in between. 

So be realistic with your focus expectations.

Ready for some extra real talk for a minute? 

 

This is especially true for those of you who are studying for exams in a university setting, doing your PhD, etc.  

 

Trust me, I have been there. I know there is a lot of work to do, but working past your brain’s capacity actually just makes your work take longer. 

 

You are more likely to have errors. 

 

You are retaining less information. 

 

And if you were to actually work a realistic amount, take a break and serve your body and go for a walk, eat some food…

Your actual output will be so high of a quality that it will be absolutely worth the break you took. 

 

There’s a culture specifically in academia that makes you think you need to work 10-hour days. But 10-hour days are not actually helping you get that thing done. 

 

Try switching to a 6-8 hour day, just for a week and let me know if that helps, because I promise…

 

When you become more efficient, when you have a better quality of work, that work is going to be more enjoyable. 

 

It’s also going to get done in a way, way, way, faster way. 

 

Let’s Wrap This Up: 

 

Here’s a quick recap on the three things you need to know to help you focus better. 

 

1.  Focus and flow is a state. It is not something that you can create with your willpower. 

 

2. You need to do a focus audit, and focus on what works for you. 😉 

 

3. Have realistic expectations. 

 

I’ll leave you with this. Inside of our Change Academy membership, we are often talking to clients and members about their focus, and one of the things that I consistently tell them is to create a schedule that is aimed at producing quality of work rather than quantity of work, and watch how your life and productivity transforms after that. 

 

P.S. If you’re having trouble scheduling focus time into your day… Make sure to read my previous blog HERE on how to create a routine that will change your life. 

 

This blog is going to give you tangible tips that are going to help you create that condition more often, thus making that productivity that you’re going for so much easier. 

 

I’ll see you next week!

 

And if you found this article helpful, don’t forget to opt into our email community for more valuable content on personal growth and behavior change.

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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