Focus is valuable. Focus is within your reach.

Odds are you don’t focus as much as you could, and your life can benefit a lot from increasing your ability to focus.

You can set everything aside for a while, make sure only emergencies reach you, buckle down, and work on the important things with no interruptions.

You can shed distractions in your daily life. It’s a challenge to do it well. Sometimes you can shed too much and life feels empty.

How to choose in what to focus can be hard; when something makes you curious, it’s a good opportunity to train your focus, because it’s naturally close.

Focus can be trained. You might only have the capacity to exert a little bit of focus now. You might only be able to focus on the most besotting of tasks, for a meager period of time.

Master focus. Make it intentional. Make it a ritual. Build an environment around your focus so that you may summon the focus more easily by shaping your environment later, when it’s something harder to focus on.

Things that have worked for me, over time and for different types of tasks, include:

  • having a specific playlist, playing in the same order, when I’m working on something specific. Silence otherwise.
  • placing the phone on the same spot, on the same position, with the same settings (do not disturb mode on, facedown, in a hard-to-reach spot on the desk)
  • having a notebook or notepad with pens and pencils available, to quickly offload important things that would dilute my focus but which I can’t afford to forget
  • having a notebook or notepad in which to doodle and draft and organize ideas
  • closing all unused apps on the computer (if a computer-bound task)
  • The more of the following criteria I meet every time I work on a category of task, the better for my focus:
    • working from the same spot, on the same chair
    • at the same time of the day (roughly — I think the important part here is the distance from the last meal)
    • at the same temperature
    • best if with the same computer

The idea is to intentionally create a mood every time you exert focus. Then when you set the mood, focus has an easier time coming and staying.