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3 Hacks To Focus Deeply On And Be More Productive

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how to be more productive

In the age of social media and modern technology, we’ve lost the ability to focus. A lot of people like to say that they have ADHD, and while it’s no surprise that numbers are rising, you don’t exactly need to be medically diagnosed to feel totally scattered all the time.

ADHD or not, you definitely ARE impaired. And it’s not your fault. Our lives are designed for distraction. The ability to focus deeply on one idea at a time is becoming rarer and rarer.

“We’re now living in an Idea Economy,” according to HP CEO Meg Whitman. Whereas manufactured goods were once the material that drove our economy, ideas are now the commodity. You can only succeed if you have the agility to respond to market opportunities and quickly turn ideas into reality.

The catch-22 is that success requires deep focus 

As we dive deeper into technology made to enable us and enhance our lives, we’re paradoxically seeing a huge increase in our inability to tune out inputs that distract us, sap our mental energy, drain our focus and decrease our intellectual output.  

Everything we consume has been brilliantly designed to make us keep coming back for more. There are teams of people that engineer our technologies and their only job is to figure out how to make you click, share, swipe, watch, consume, and ultimately convert.

And while we’re drawn deeper into our devices, we’ve opened up more points of access than we know how to manage. I just counted. There are 12 different ways to get in touch with me at any given moment. 12! Between multiple email addresses, social media accounts, apps, and my “normal” phone, I’ve essentially given the world total access to disrupt me at any moment.

We don’t stand a chance 

The brain’s reaction is automatic. Basically unstoppable. To overcome distractions, you’ve got to be bulletproof. Superhuman.  

A distraction is an alert that says, ‘Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous,'” – David Rock

Willpower isn’t enough. It’s futile to try to exercise self control and then get mad at yourself when you can’t do it.  And yet, we constantly deceive ourselves. We promise that “this time will be different,” this time we’re going to buckle down, only to realize you’ve spent the past two hours on Facebook.

Listen up: overcoming distraction is NOT about willpower. You’ve got to be more crafty than that.

The “secret formula” to find more willpower and become more productive

Here’s the good news. If you can learn to focus on one thing for an extended period of time, you can surpass 99% of your peers and people in your field. Just by continuing to keep your attention trained on one thing. One wildly important task or goal.

Focus is a trained skill. To train a skill you need to create a set of powerful habits to keep it strong. You need to train yourself to learn how to focus. Because just like focus, distraction is also a muscle. The more you flex it, the easier it is to use.

Here are 3 quick ways to immediately start training focus into your daily life:

1. No cell phone for the first 20 minutes of your morning

Rather than start your day getting sucked into the black hole of the internet, meaningless gossip, and/or important work take 20 minutes for yourself. Wake up, allow your own thoughts to influence your entry into the day. Personally, I recommend meditation but it can be as simple as making time for yourself in the shower, or over a cup of coffee.

Cultivate your intentions without the distraction or allure of the screen, behind which lies someone else’s agenda. Technology eliminates alternatives to itself. As soon as you’re sucked in, it’s hard to get out.

 

2No tech Sundays

Or Saturdays. Whatever works for you.  Give yourself one day per week entirely free of distractions. What you choose to do is entirely up to you. The point is to re-invigorate the muscles that don’t require instant gratification.

What you choose to focus on and choose to ignore is a defining quality of your life. Who you are and what you feel IS what you focus on. If you’re constantly engaged in a techno-sphere of influence, how can you possibly see things from another perspective? Without time “off,” how can you distinguish your ideas from the world’s?

Last month I went to Greece to write the first draft of my book and disengaged from the internet for three days. Though the amount of work I produced was impressive (40,000 words), I was absolutely blown away by the quality of my ideas.

“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.” – B. F. Skinner

3. No internet either before or after work

Just because we exist in a wifi / 4G universe doesn’t mean we always have to be on the internet.

Take me for example. The first draft of my book is due on May 1st. Every morning, before I head to the office, I carve out a few hours to write. When I write I turn off the internet.

I’ve tried the alternative and it’s just too damn tempting. “I’ll just check my email” turns into a series of clicks that lead down a rabbit hole of distraction that I had no intention of consuming. For whatever reason, our minds crave novelty.

Just because you’re not writing a book doesn’t mean you can’t take something away from my experience. Doing deep work requires intense concentration and the simple habit of clicking “Turn Wifi Off” can serve as a symbolic gesture that jumpstarts a powerful ritual.

It’s motivating to think that your ability to focus is only as strong as your commitment to train it. If you want to stand out in the 21st century and dominate your field, you need to learn how to cultivate deep focus.

How will you stay focus and be more productive? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Daniel DiPiazza is the Founder of Rich20Something, where he writes about starting a business you care about, living a happier life, and occasionally, bacon. If you liked this article, be sure to join the Tribe by signing up for his free newsletter.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Tim Denning

    May 5, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Daniel i have currently begun meditating before blogging which has allowed me to focus better. There is actually a session on the Calm meditation app that is called focus which I use. Thanks for your advice.

  2. Dennis

    May 2, 2016 at 5:14 am

    I will have my 30 min free of internet at the beginning and end of each day and a day of no technologies on Sundays where I will be physically interacting with my peers and relatives. Thanx

  3. Al Villegas

    Apr 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Wow…….Daniel this article is right on mark and much needed in today’s market…thanks for these very effective and much needed tips!

  4. Vikash Sharma

    Apr 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    HI Daniel,

    These are really amazing tips. I agree with all your points and will definitely follow them personally. There are lot of things going on at the same time in my life and it has become really difficult to focus on a particular thing. But after reading this amazing article I have found the ways to solve this problem.
    Thank you for your time writing and sharing this with us .

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Success Advice

6 Important Things to Consider When Choosing an Investor

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Angel investment is one of the preferred options for starting up your business. Angel investors are successful businessmen, investing their own funds into a potentially rewarding business opportunity. As an entrepreneur, it is crucial for you to choose an investor that can fulfil your specific business needs.

The right investors can add value to your startup, far beyond the capital they bring to your business. You need to be careful in selecting the investors because seed investing is an early stage investment requiring particular skills and experience.

Here are the six important things to consider when screening and choosing the right angel investor for your company:

1. Experience

You should choose investors who have the experience of building, running, or helping startups in the past. They should have a proven record of investing in startups that have been successful in their endeavors. More than their money, their experience is vital, which makes them an invaluable advisor.

Your angel investors should have experience in the same business domain and in-depth knowledge of your industry. If they have achieved success in other domains or industries, they may give opinions on how to grow your business that aren’t applicable in your field. With the requisite experience, they can guide your business through the difficult start-up phase.

2. Trust

Your angel investor should be trustworthy who can keep your company’s confidential information safe without creating problems for you by using that information against you. It is important to choose an investor who gives you not only monetary assistance but also the right guidance and knowledge. A good angel investor is the one who invests in your team along with your business.

3. Risk Taking

The success of your business venture cannot be guaranteed as there are many potential risks that can lead to its failure despite a brilliant idea. It is vital to find an angel investor who is willing to take calculated risks on a rational basis rather than emotional considerations. They shouldn’t be overconfident and they should think differently from the crowd and be willing to learn from mistakes to keep your company going in the right direction.

4. Support

Angel investors who have been a successful entrepreneur can be very helpful to your business. They have it all to guide and support you to develop a successful business and overcome the challenges that your company can face in the initial stage.

Good business angels are very supportive, helping you in problematic situations. They act as a mentor for you to help you achieve your goals by constantly coaching you and supporting you at every step. They provide time and empathy during your tough times.

These investors have an idea about the highs and lows a new business has to go through before it succeeds. They can give you emotional motivation and help you with their expertise and involvement, ensuring success. They will encourage and challenge you at every step of the way and offer you advice when needed to make you grow as an entrepreneur.

5. Expectations

Before you choose an angel investor for your business, you have to ensure that they have realistic expectations about the timeline of the growth of your company and when you achieve your goals. They should even have realistic expectations about how profitable your company will be in the long-term.

Too high expectations can put pressure on your business and make you take risks that can get you off track and not be good for building long-term value of your business. You should select investors who demonstrate flexibility and have reasonable expectations around reporting, communication, and goal-setting.

6. Patience

Angel investors should be patient enough to understand that it takes time to earn profit. They should have the quality of thinking long term and visualizing the bigger picture of your company’s future. Your business angels should be calm and relaxed, and not be the ones who panic and fear to take challenges. It is crucial for them to understand that startups go through highs and lows, and there’s high competition. A good angel investor will remain calm and accept the fact that all new businesses have to struggle in the initial years before they become stable.

When assessing angel investors, you will have to ask them questions about their prior investments, what their expectations are and how much involvement they will take in your business, among other things. You will have to find investors that have the same domain expertise and portfolio companies related to yours.

By considering the above-mentioned points, you will be able to evaluate whether you and the angel investors are aligned and if it is feasible to have a partnership with them in the long-term. Take the help of your network to find the right investors with requisite skills, experience, and funding capacity to get your business global. So, use your due diligence and get the best angel investors on-board!

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Success Advice

3 Reasons Why Getting Clear Is Important for Your Business

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Everyone goes through times in their lives where blue skies and sunshine are a rarity. Too many clouds and storms, whether they involve business or personal issues, become the everyday occurrence and keep people from achieving whatever they want to do.

There have been many times on this business journey of my own where fogginess and haze have sent me to the mat. Trying to kick out at a 2-count when being pinned with all of this stuff seems unbearable.

In taking a holistic view (meaning looking at the entire picture) of where I am, what has changed? Clarity. Getting very clear on what I want to do and where I want to focus my creative direction. Yes, I’m a writer, content writer, copywriter, ghostwriter and creative. That’s one element of my own life. Another one involves being a voice for the voiceless in the craniofacial community around the world.

But this is not to simply focus on what I am doing now. This is about clarity, about getting laser-focused on what you want to do. If you have a coach or mentor in your life, then I’ll bet you have heard them say on one or multiple occasions that you have to “get clear” on what you want to offer.

Here are three core reasons clarity is an important factor for your business:

1. You Stand Out From The Crowd

You cannot go anywhere on social media and not see people putting out content. Some may be good; others are meh. It does not matter, though, if it is good or not. What matters is about conversion. Does the content turn into sales? Does it attract and speak to people’s problems?

Not everyone can be a jack-of-all-trades. You become a master-of-none pretty quick. Theories abound about niching down and finding that sweet spot where you can deliver your mastery to those in need. Think of the millions of niches out there: cannabis, fitness, spirituality, relationships, finances, food, and on it goes.

Every one of these niches need people who can come in and put clarity around their products and services. If these businesses are not clear on what they do and solve to those seeking solutions, then they are not going to have clients and eventually will have to shut the doors.

Learning to stand out from the crowd is going to make you a powerful voice in whatever niche or field you are looking to dominate in all the time.

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” – Steve Maraboli

2. You Attract A Lot of Clients

If you wanted to apply one of those ancient universal laws to your business – for instance, like the very popular Law of Attraction – then you would understand what attracts people to you. Nikola Tesla, one of the world’s greatest inventors, once said that if people understood energy and vibration alone and how that works then they’d understand a lot of how things actually work in the world.

Clarity brings out a new energy from your words and actions. You come from a place of total and unbelievable awareness where you look around one day and go, “Dang, look at all of the people who want my services.”

Trust me. This is one of those lessons that I have to come back to over and over again. People might know who I am and what I do from this or that space. Yet is it really crystal clear enough to a targeted section of people? Um, it’s still a work in progress.

In order, though, to actually move forward in business and have the level of success that I desire, then clarity must come into play. Clarity attracts clients. They solidly know what you do and what you offer. There’s no wishy-washy stuff taking place. Understand this core reason to achieve clarity and watch what happens to your very own business and brand.

3. You Begin To Believe In Yourself

There’s this ongoing idea around “imposter syndrome” that folks on the interweb love to discuss. Showing up online like you are a real go-getter and hotshot, but offline that’s not the same person…that’s a problem.

“Imposter syndrome,” to me, starts happening when a person stretches out of his or her comfort zone and it feels miserable. Instead of getting up at 11 a.m. after working a night shift job, you get up at 8 a.m. to get a head-start on tasks and obligations around what you do. Thoughts like “this will never work out” or “I’m never going to succeed and get out of debt” start swirling around your mind like a bunch of chattering monkeys.

Clarity, though, allows you the benefit of starting to truly believe in yourself. In his famous book “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Norman Vincent Peale writes in the first chapter’s first line “Believe in yourself.” That’s it. Then the book goes on to describe different ways of building up your positive mindset through prayer, faith, action, and other real-life examples. Peale’s work may not appeal to you directly, but the mere thought of believing in yourself and your dreams is appealing.

“Clarity comes from action not thought.” – Marie Forleo

Find yourself getting clear on what you want and where you want to go and begin to truly believe in yourself and your abilities. There are lots of people who definitely need your services and work around the world. There might even be people right in your own town who do, too.

When tackling the issue of clarity for your business, take these three factors into account. Think about them seriously. Take stock around where this can be an effective place for you to succeed every single day.

Look for the sunshine and blue skies in your business. They are there. All you have to do is some sightseeing and all of it will pop out very clearly.

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Success Advice

How YOU Can Create a Powerful 10 Year Life Vision

Ashley Hann

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Where do you desire to be 10 years from now? Joel Brown, founder of the well-known website and podcast Addicted2Success, breaks down exactly how to gain clarity in your life and create a powerful 10-year life vision. The vision process that Joel teaches has transformed the lives of hundreds and thousands of people who use it.

You can listen to the full podcast interview here with Joel Brown or head over to my website AshleyHann.com for more inspirational podcast episodes.

Joel Brown is the real deal. He travels the world coaching thousands and thousands of people to stand in their vision so they can turn their dreams into a reality. He has been featured in the Think and Grow Rich movie, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, Success Magazine and more. He has sat down with well-known thought leaders such as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Jay Shetty, Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone, John Assaraf and the list goes on.

This is a MUST LISTEN episode all about gaining clarity, creating harmony in your life and creating a powerful 10-year vision so that you can live the life you’ve always wanted.

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

Joel breaks it down for you step by step. In this episode, we go over:

  • The 3 key questions you must ask yourself in order to live a fulfilled life and master your 10-year vision
  • How to define success for yourself and discover what you really want
  • The 8 areas of life to include in your 10-year vision
  • The top, prevalent patterns successful people share and why you should adopt them too
  • The 3 main limiting beliefs and bullsh*t stories that hold people back from achieving their dreams and goals
  • Why dropping perfectionism is so important and what to do instead
  • …and so much more!

If you’re more of a visual person then you can watch my video interview with Joel Brown here:

This is an episode you won’t want to miss. Joel Brown is the 10-year vision expert and teaches his vision process all over the globe to thousands and thousands of people. You’ll want to make sure to grab a pen and paper so you can take notes and action on the strategies he shares with you.

You can connect with Joel Brown @iamjoelbrown on Instagram and Twitter.  Make sure you also check out his popular motivation account @addicted2success on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

You can listen to the full episode on SoundCloud,Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

OR you can watch it on my YouTube Channel:

RESOURCES:

His event: www.elevatetribe.net

The #1 motivation website he built from scratch: www.addicted2success.com

His Circle of Influence online mastermind: www.iamjoelbrown.com/applynow

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Success Advice

5 Ways You Can Utilize Information Properly and Think More Efficiently

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The mind is a complex system of facets, of which some have yet to be discovered. Still, in spite of all this, there has been enough information to help us gain a rudimentary understanding of it. Thinking is what we all do, although what differs is the efficiency and levels at which we do it.

A lot of things influence the way you think, and most of these factors vary from person to person. However, there are some foundations and basic laws that can help you move from just filtering information and utilizing it to think efficiently.

Below are a few ways you can utilize information properly and think more efficiently:

1. Be quiet and listen

We’re constantly bombarded with information, and the nature of this information determines how we respond. Are you the type of person who doesn’t handle bad or even good news well? If so, learn to take a step back, evaluate things, and look for the way forward. It’s something that stock market traders do all the time, and it works like a charm with practice.

2. Never neglect what your emotions tell you

While a lot of people might not know this, it is true that the conscious thoughts we have only represent a small fraction of the events going on in our heads. At any given point in time, you have the unconscious aspect taking in massive amounts of information, most of which we don’t even know are being processed.

Your brain makes conclusions, good or bad, and starts to generate feelings that rule our emotions in the long-run. So, whenever you have a subtle feeling that points you to a certain course of action or thought, don’t ignore it. At the end of the day, that feeling gets its way somehow, and it’s better you come face-to-face with it and understand its nudges better.

“When you react, you let others control you. When you respond, you are in control.” – Bohdi Sanders

3. Never think while under pressure

Pressure can be good, but a lot of the time, it tends to yield counter-productive results. Regardless of what you’re doing, there are times when you feel pressure. What this pressure does is force you to rely less on the part of your unconsciousness that functions like a trained autopilot system (from all of the training and experiences that you’ve had in the past). Essentially, it forces you to overthink things.

You begin to analyze every aspect of what you’re doing, and you end up using parts of your brain that have no business with the specific activity. So, whenever you take the time out to develop a certain skill, make sure you learn to have faith in your instincts as well.

4. Never focus on one viewpoint

Bluffing is something that professional poker players do almost every time. It’s become an art. However, instead of just bluffing on a whim (which also works at times, by the way), most of them employ a simple trick while playing; they think about how the opposing players would act if they weren’t actually bluffing.

In most cases, the brain tends to search the world for filters in order to confirm the beliefs that it holds. However, the problem with this is that it tends to limit you. At the end of the day, you could be dealing with facts that are just not wrong.

“What’s true of the poker game is true of life. Most people are suckers and don’t realise it.” – Michael Faust

5. What do you love doing?

According to studies, a lot of people tend to have moments of insight and solutions to problems when they’re not even aware of the fact that the problem is being analyzed by the brain. These are usually moments when you take a stroll, listen to your favorite track, brew your favorite coffee, take showers, and read blogs; when you feel relaxed and comfortable.

This is because insightful thoughts are usually generated by an influx of neural activities that occur in the right hemisphere of the brain. The best time to plug into the mind is when you’re stress-free, so make sure that you engage in activities that relax you more often.

How do you go about maneuvering around and making decisions in a world constantly bombarding you with information? Let us know your thoughts and advice below!

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