What if we could shift our attention away from pain, noise, shiny objects, and idiots and focus on what we want to focus on, no matter what?
Here’s the experiment for your Week’s Plan and a great goal for the Pilot: Create a trigger and practice a reset ritual.
The bigger goal is to build focus skills and manager distractions and this is one technique. To measure success we need at least one metric. I suggest it be time spent in focus.
Choose your target, set a time.
Pick a task you’ve had some trouble focusing on so that improvement is recognizable. Get specific, for example:
- Finish a specific task.
- Practice a specific technique.
- Crank on a specific problem set.
(I’ve personally learned how to fall asleep using this technique)
Choose a time goal that has been just barely out of your reach. If you can’t focus on your task for more than 3 minutes without getting off course, then make it 3 minutes. If you normally bail at 2 hours, make it 2 hours and 15 minutes. Your experiment is all about seeing if you can increase your skills with this technique.
Design and simulate a triggered reset.
Before you go do the actual experiment, identify a trigger— a word that reminds you to reset your mind— and design a routine that includes distinct audible, physical, and visual activities you can do very quickly to help you refocus on your goal. Here is an example.
When doing idea-centric work like writing or making a business plan new ideas flood our brains. It’s easy to let our minds travel to new places away from our focus. A triggered reset could look like this:
- When you feel your mind wandering, say out loud “traveling.” (That’s your trigger word.)
- Stop and write down one sentence that describes the idea so you can set it aside for now.
- Do a specific deliberate physical act, like stretch your hamstrings or breath deeply 3 times or bedflip once (see photo).
- Say your focus goal out loud.
- Get back to work.
Practice the reset before you start working on your goal. Really. In your mind simulate getting distracted and then do the routine. Do this a few times till it starts to feel like a routine.
After a few practice rounds set your timer, start your experiment, and try with all your might to practice your triggered reset. It’ll be awkward at first like any new habit, but if you keep at it, you may be surprised how your ability to focus increases and your reset routine becomes automatic.
Do you already have a reset routine that actually works? Please share.