"Blame the fact that you have attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.) or that you are an A-Type Personality - or just blame the fact that you have never been able to concentrate," said a man sitting on the plane next to me as I moved from reading a book, to reading board papers to stretching - all within 10 minutes.

"But if you keep doing that, you will achieve nothing."

I have neither A.D.D. nor do I have a strong A-Type personality (although some people may challenge that), but I do have problems from time to time focusing and for that matter being able to sleep through the night because I am thinking of a hundred things at once.
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There lies the problem for many people from entrepreneurs through to the person who walks dogs for a living. Trying to focus all the time is near impossible.

If we go back to the root of the problem, then we all realise that it is easy to fix. This problem is not insurmountable by any means and just requires a little "focus" which is the point really. It's physiologically impossible for the brain to multi-task and that is what many people who cannot focus tend to do. Not only does multi-tasking make your work 50% less valuable; it takes 50% longer to finish.

What multi-tasking does is it shifts your attention. If you are sitting having dinner with a loved one or a friend and they are texting on their mobile phone, you know that they are not interested in the conversation they are having with you. It's not that they can't sit still. It's that they don't find the conversation that they are having with you important enough to focus on. 

In the workplace, if your boss or co-worker tells you that a task is really important, yet your brain doesn't agree - then you will immediately put the task to the back-burner and if you complete it in the said time, without understanding the real meaning and importance of the task, you will end up wasting time and frustrating yourself. Chances are that you will also produce a sub-standard product.

We all want to be more effective and efficient and it all starts with our ability to focus on what is in front of us. I always say to people that are new to Marketing Eye, "don't check your emails as they come through, check them on the hour." I know they think I am stupid, but it breaks the focus. It's just like having your mobile phone next to your desk and having text messages come through all day long - it breaks your focus.

Here are 10 Ways You Can Improve Your Focus:


1. Set a goal first: If you have a clear goal in place you can work backwards so that you achieve it.
2. Turn off: Mobile phones, access to social media etc - you can only start concentrating when you have stopped getting distracted.
3. Do one important thing per day: If you have 10 important things to finish in the day, you will complete none of them satisfactorily.
4. Do everything in 45min to 1 hour slots: One thing - not a dozen. If you have a job that means you have lots of things to do in 5 minute increments - then put all of those things into the first hour of your day and then schedule the rest of your day accordingly.
5. Calm your mind: Meditate, do yoga or just take a minute out every hour to breath in and out slowly. It works wonders.
6. Be punctual: Being late sends messages to your brain that tells it that everything is going to be late from that moment on.
7. Declutter: clean your desk, home, car - whatever  you need to to ensure that there is no clutter in your life.
8. Exercise: The only way to be productive day in, day out.
9. Make yourself interested in the task at hand by understanding it better and knowing why it is important.
10. Prioritise: Put a to-do-list together and ensure all your prioritise are written down in order or deadline and importance.

By being healthy, relaxing and ensuring that your life is organised, your life will automatically improve and become more productive. Concentration drives intelligence, which simply is the ability to assimilate information and recall upon it whenever needed. Intelligence emanates from a person's ability to control their selective attention and you cannot start concentrating until you have stopped getting distracted.

Always choose accuracy over speed and the most important thing you can do is eliminate distractions - so turn that mobile phone off now!
Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

2 comments

  • Maria Alda Prawitera
    Maria Alda Prawitera
    03/04/13

    Very helpful post! Thanks so much Mellissah! :)

  • Kaye
    28/11/12

    This is such a great article Mellissah. I have printed out your 10 points and posted it up in my office! Would love to share it on my website - with a link to you - is that ok?

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