Focus, Focus and Focus!

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    Welcome to this week’s edition. Hopefully, you can focus for the five minutes it will take to read it, and if you cannot, well then you REALLY need to read this one!

    As ever, there’s a tip, an insight, and our favourite new thing, so let’s get going!

    Talking of concentrating, it’s worth noting that focus is something that can be honed. Here is a summary of techniques that BillionMinders share work for them. (We have mentioned some of these before, but they are all worth repeating).

    • Practice focusing by focusing. This is really simple and we’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. The more you try to focus, the better you will get at it. We recommend starting with one 15-minute focus period a day, then gradually working your way up to longer periods and more of them in a day.
    • Create a “focus spot”. This may be a place in your office or at home that you dedicate for focus, and you do NOT use when you are aimlessly scrolling (for example). One BillionMinder has a specific corner of his deck that he uses to write and think – he never visits that spot any other time!
    • Think like an engineer – When engineers try to troubleshoot systems, they typically change one component and measure the results before moving on. As you optimize your environment to support good focus, you can do the same. If you have trouble concentrating, rather than giving up, think about the one most likely thing that affected it, and next time address JUST that one thing. Repeat that practice every time you focus until you have things down.
    • Practice Meditation. The acts of meditating and concentrating are actually surprisingly similar. In most forms of meditation, you are focusing on a single thing (such as being present in your breath) and are learning to redirect thoughts as they emerge. As well as calming you in the moment, BillionMinders often report that it helps build better work concentration skills.
    • Use the right tool for the job: Your computer is an amazing multipurpose device that you can use for most of the varied work you have day to day, but it’s not always the BEST tool for the job, particularly if that job involves some form of deep thought. A great example is focused writing. I write these newsletters away from a computer on a dedicated device. I actually only use the computer for supporting research and publishing them. Believe it or not, it’s far faster, as the writing happens with no distractions.


    Well, of course this week it’s something to help you focus. I mentioned I write this newsletter on a dedicated device. Many of you will have used dedicated e-readers for years, but e-writers such as the Remarkable Tablet can be really useful for focused writing, annotating, and note-taking. At BillionMinds we were all early adopters and fans of the original Remarkable, but the more recent edition takes things to a different level – the pen is weighted to feel indistinguishable from a quality writing instrument and the more “plasticy” feel of the original device is replaced by something far more luxurious. It’s the first time that writing on an electronic device has been pleasurable.

    But what changed the game for us when it came to getting productive is the physical keyboard add-on that fits neatly in the device’s cover, something they call a Type Folio.

    Yes – it’s basically a connected typewriter, but as you have seen above, that might be the best tool for the job sometimes. I’ll sketch out ideas with the pen, then flip open the keyboard and write the newsletter there and then. After a quick sync, I complete any supporting research, create links and then add the copy to this website. Despite the extra steps, I’m typically saving about 30 minutes each week through improved focus AND the quality of the newsletters have improved.

    The Remarkable is not cheap, but well worth a look if you write a lot and commonly find yourself getting distracted before that all important thought comes out. If you get one, let us know what you think of it!

    The Tip: Setting Yourself to Concentrate

    Video Length: 113 Seconds

    Many of us find it very difficult to concentrate these days, and, with all the distractions around us, it’s hardly surprising. Today’s tip gives you a sub-5-minute routine you can use to give you a greater chance of reaching that “Flow” state. Check it out below:

    About Us

    BillionMinds brings you this newsletter each and every week. But that’s not all we do. We also help employees and managers in companies around the world embed key soft skills to thrive in the modern workplace and get certified in those skills. Each of our Learn/Do experiences is less than 10 minutes a day and you can see meaningful change within two weeks.

    We work with both companies and individual employees. Certification programs start at $200 and we provide discounts for those seeking work. For more information, visit us here.