How to Get Your Brain to Focus: Chris Bailey (Full Transcript)

But whatever it is for you that lets your mind wander, something that’s simple, something that doesn’t consume your full attention — mine happens to be something that is not necessarily stereotypic of my age and gender demographic. But I love to knit.

Knitting is one of my favorite hobbies. I knit in planes. I knit on trains. I knit in hotel rooms. I was knitting in the hotel room before this event today because it helps calm you down, it helps settle your nerves and I come up with so many ideas when I knit. I have a notepad next to me.

But whatever it is for you, it might be taking that extra long shower, might be taking a bath, upgrading your shower to a bath so you can soak not just with your body but with your ideas as well.

Could be simple: if you’re at work walking from one room to another in the office. Very simple change but if you don’t use your phone during that walk, your mind will go to the meeting that you’re about to attend. It’ll go to the call that you were just on. It’ll wander to the ideas that are circulating and it’ll make you more creative in this way.

It could be something as simple as waiting in line and just, I don’t know, waiting in line. It could be getting a massage. And whatever it is that lets your mind — I love this picture so much — whatever you love doing, here’s a protip: ask your masseuse to let you have a notepad in the session because ideas always come to you and you’re always incubating things and so capture them so you can act upon them later.

But I think after doing this deep dive into the research, we need to make two fundamental shifts with regard to how we think about our attention. We think that we need to fit more in. You know, there’s all this talk about hustling. I’m an anti-hustler. I’m one of the laziest people you’ll ever meet and I think that’s what gives me so many ideas to talk and write about.

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We don’t need to fit more in. We’re doing enough. We’re doing too much. We’re doing so much that our mind never wanders anymore. It’s sad. This is when our best ideas and plans come to us. We need more space.

If you look at what allows traffic to move down a highway. What allows it to move forward isn’t how fast cars are moving as you might expect. It’s how much space exists between the cars that allows traffic to move forward. Our work and our life are the same way.

The second shift we like to think of distraction as the enemy of focus. It is not. It is a symptom of why we find it difficult to focus, which is the fact that our mind is over stimulated.

I have a challenge for you. It’s a two-week challenge but it’s a challenge to make your mind a bit less stimulated and simply notice what happens to your attention, how many ideas do you get? How does your focus change? How many plans do you make?

So for two weeks make your mind less stimulated. There are so many great features on phones on devices that let us eliminate a lot of the time we waste on our devices. Use those features, not only to become aware of how you spend your time but how you can spend less so you have more ideas.

DISCONNECTION RITUAL

Have a disconnection ritual every evening. One of my favorite daily rituals: I disconnect from the internet completely from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. My fiance and I — we have a weekly disconnection ritual, a technology sabbath every Sunday so we can disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the physical world, the real actual world.

REDISCOVER BOREDOM

Rediscover – you don’t have to do it for an hour. Please don’t call our Canada, it’s just a world of help. But rediscover boredom just for a few minutes. Lay on the couch and where does your mind go and scatter your attention; you’ll find some remarkably fruitful things in that attentional zone.

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If there’s one thing that I have found to be true after doing this deep dive into this world on how we focus, it’s that the state of our attention is what determines the state of our lives. If we’re distracted in each moment, those moments of distraction and over stimulation build up and accumulate to create a life that feels more distracted and overwhelming like we don’t have a clear direction.

But when we become less stimulated, when we make our mind more calm, we get the benefits of added productivity and focus and ideas and creativity but we also live a better life because of it.

Thank you so much.

 

For Further Reading:

The Art of Focus – a Crucial Ability: Christina Bengtsson (Transcript)

Think Faster, Focus Better and Remember More: Dr. Michael Merzenich (Transcript)

Tony Robbins: How To Train Your Brain To Stay Focused (Transcript)

How the Power of Attention Changes Everything: Jeff Klein (Transcript)

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