Focus 2020-10-11T21:39:04+00:00

Scientific lessons to improve your focus & concentration

learn actionable and science backed techniques that help you improve your focus and concentration as an entrepreneur.

In this guide, you will learn the appropriate tools needed to improve your ability to focus by up to 67% with less than a 10 minute commitment. This will help you reach your peak performance and improve your business practices. We will break down the science behind how to focus your attention and what is going on in your brain while it is happening. Understanding these basic biological fundamentals is an important step to changing behaviour.

What is focus?

When we talk about being able to focus, what do we really mean? It goes by many names: focus, escapism, concentration, and/or flow. These are all referring to:

Being able to effortlessly pay attention to a single task while blurring out the world around you

You may not be aware of it but your brain is focusing right now as you read this document. In fact, there are three main types of attention that produce your ability to concentrate:

  1. Selective attention: The act of focusing on one thing while ignoring others.
    An example of this would be focusing on work at a coffee shop while ignoring conversations going on around you

  2. Divided attention: Managing attention between multiple tasks at once (attention switching).
    An example of this would be driving your car.

  3. Sustained attention: The act of maintaining your focus on one thing (while ignoring distractors) for a period of time.
    An example of this would be playing a video game.

As attention comes in many varieties, the reasoning behind their development is something that has been well studied. Research has shown the two most extreme forms of attention are most limiting. When we are too attentive, we are subject to tunnel vision and with this, the mind narrows. When attention is absent, we lose control of our thought and become scatterbrained. Our brains are finely attuned to distraction, but for good reason. From an evolutionary standpoint it has been crucial for survival that our brains filter out an enormous amount of input so that we are able to focus on something that could be vital to our survival. On the other end, it was also crucial that we were easily distracted so that we could be aware of dangers encroaching upon us. Nevertheless, all forms of attention arise due to the interplay between two different areas of the brain.

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Why is focusing so hard?

Switching from task to task requires the activation of our prefrontal cortex (PFC). This area of the brain craves novelty and thus new stimuli create a release of reward hormones such as dopamine (similar to the feeling we get when we eat something really yummy). Every time you check a notification, email, social media, etc., you get a release of these feel good hormones to the pleasure centres of your brain. Therefore, it actually feels good to indulge in distractions. Not only that, but the brain region activated when we’re focused is actually craving novelty. This makes it difficult to focus on one thing at a time, and also encourages you to indulge in distractions, or complete many simple/insignificant tasks (such as checking email) rather than tackling bigger/more focus requiring tasks.

What are some of the costs associated with completing multiple tasks at once?

  1. Wears us out both mentally and physically
    • Can leave permanent negative impact on our brains!
    • Actually uses more glucose making us feel tired and disoriented
    • Increases the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline
  2. Slows us down
    • Every time you switch from one task to another it takes a fraction of a second
    • This cost can lead you to take 40% longer to complete the same tasks than if you were to complete them separately
  3. We make more mistakes
    • Compromises our short-term memory
    • Can lower our working IQ by 10-15 points!


Focus and the brain

When is comes to focus and attention, two brain systems are working together and how they work together determines your ability to concentrate on a task. The older, more primitive part of the brain is responsible for what is called bottom-up attentional processing. This type of processing generally works outside of consciousness, it is reactive, and monitors input directed by our senses – it is our very own warning system. This attentional processing is impulsive and reactive, generally commanded by emotions such as fear. Not only that, but the alerts coming in from this system are generally very hard to ignore.

The newer neocortex works hard to control these primitive impulses. This brain system is responsible for what is called top-down attentional processing. It is the brain’s source of voluntary control and helps us to focus our mind while filtering out distractions. According to Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of the best selling book Emotional Intelligence, “it adds talents like self-awareness and reflection, deliberation and planning to our mind’s repertoire”. As we go through our day, we have both systems working together, defining our attention.

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