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Searching for Focus | Ryerson Digital Media Zone

When your goal as an entrepreneur is to develop a product or as a student to study for an exam, everything else becomes a distraction from achieving that goal. Productive habits such as visiting social networking sites, reading emails, or writing blog posts turn into harmful habits.

When new items appear in people’s mental in-baskets, the first and most harmful choice they make is to add that new item to the pile of ever growing, everyday information. And that’s when multitasking kicks in. With so much new information to deal with and so many different things that need to get done, people take pride in their ability to manage all the moving pieces, but in the end multitasking doesn’t work. Whether it’s sending an email or writing a marketing plan, trying to do excellent work while checking Twitter or figuring out dinner plans is impossible and you’ll only exert more energy in the process.

“The core processor in your mind cannot multitask… For the brain to consciously, creatively, concentratedly focus on more than one thing at a time is impossible.” – David Allen

Instead, train yourself to remove the extra elements and to remove the distractions. Make a list of all your distractions, and try working without them.

Try to get rid of all your distractions for ten minutes and only focus on one thing. Then, every ten minutes take a two minute break before you start working again. After you get comfortable with that, try going for longer periods of time, 25 minutes of focus, with only five minute breaks.

This way, you might miss a couple emails, you might fall behind on what’s going on with Facebook or Twitter, but your work will be better because of it.

Don’t take pride in your ability to multitask, take pride in your ability to focus on just one thing.

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