Updated: Feb 3
By Dr. Rob Carpenter:
Focusing is one of the most challenging aspects of modern life. In fact, because digital devices want to make you their slave, the average person’s attention span these days is a whopping 8 seconds.
But instead of us complaining about or criticizing why this is going on (i.e., talking about addictive algorithms and the like that are undermining your focus), it is more important to discuss strategies for how you can overcome it. I believe if you implement the following 4 approaches you can begin to stay focused now matter what distractions are thrown at you in life (I’ve done these things in my own life, and they’ve made quite a bit of difference).
If you want to stay focused, choose to focus.
I realize this sounds obvious, but the first step toward accomplishing anything is to choose to accomplish it.
In other words, make up your mind that you will be focused no matter what.
Athletes such as Michael Jordan have done this (i.e., they have chosen to focus on improving their skills regardless of what was going on in their lives) to great success. If you decide right now that you won’t get easily distracted by your circumstances or shiny new things vying for your attention, you will set yourself up psychologically to succeed.
If you want to stay focused, disconnect from pop culture every day.
While I realize this is easier said than done (after all, you get thousands of ads served to you every day,not to mention countless pictures, texts, updates, videos, and the like), you will have to mute your devices in order to limit unnecessary distractions. For me, I do this mostly in the morning so that I can set my day the right way (i.e., so that I can pray and meditate, read, write, and accomplish my goals for the day without being bombarded with extraneous things that would stop my progress).
If you want to stay focused, develop rituals and routines you follow religiously.
Years ago, I began a routine called “2-2-2” that I follow without fail. Without going into the details of it, suffice it to say that because I implemented a routine, my focus (and success) multiplied. In other words, my accomplishments went through the roof simply because I developed a system of success that worked for me. The same is true for countless other very successful people who have developed their own systems of accomplishment. If you develop a routine that works for you, it will be difficult to get distracted with things that are trying to stop you from doing what you need to do.
If you want to stay focused, refuse to let things distract you.
To truly focus, you will have to make up your mind that you will not get distracted. Most people who do get distracted never make up their minds not to—they simply “go with the flow”—and as a result, they never really gain control over their own attention spans. You don’t have to be this way. Refuse to be distracted no matter the costs (even if people think you’re weird or being stingy with your time or boring or whatever label they can try to put on you).
If you follow these 4 simple things, you can begin to stay focused so that you are not distracted by the things trying to undermine your attention and success.
Dr. Rob is an author, filmmaker, and host of The Dr. Rob Show. He advises celebrities, pro athletes, and everyday people on how to live their best lives and has been published in The Oxford Business Review and The Harvard Journal for Public Health, among others. His book, The 48 Laws of Happiness: Secrets Revealed For Becoming the Happiest You, is available where books are sold.
Read our interview with Dr. Rob here!