‘5 Steps to Deep Focus’
by Kathy Eller July 2020
I’m sharing the 5 steps as they are because I didn’t think they needed to be re written.
Sam Horn’s 5 Steps to Deep Focus
1. REDUCE time online. Check your digital devices once in the morning and after you complete your work for the day … instead of all day, every day. A recent study by MIT reveals we check our phone more than 100 times a day. That is a misuse of time that could and should be spent on creating and completing art that could add value.
2. Devote the morning to WAKE AND WORK. Wake and Work means exactly what you think it means. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Do not watch the news or scroll through social media. Get up, grab your coffee or tea … and GET TO WORK.
Devoting your early-morning-energy to creativity leverages the clarity that only comes when you’re not juggling multiple tasks. Tackle your to-do’s only after you have something tangible to show for your efforts. This sets up a feeling of accomplishment, progress and forward momentum that makes you eager to come back and pick up where you left off.
3. Set up FLOW in Your Third Place. Ergonomics (the science of how our environment influences our effectiveness) states our home is our First Place and our office is our Second Place. If we’re sheltered in place – that’s our First and Second Place. It’s hard to stay focused there because it constantly reminds us of the tasks we normally do there (e.g. answer emails, watch TV, raid the refrigerator). That’s why it’s crucial to create what Virginia Woolf called “a room of your own” – a private place where no one interrupts you so you can immerse yourself in your project and be maximally productive.
Plus, does the name Pavlov ring a bell? If you only work on your creative project in your Third Place; it creates a ritualistic “cocoon of concentration” where you tou tap into a faucet of flow because that dedicated environment becomes associated with deep focus.
4. Announce a sabbatical. What is your true priority? Are you wasting time on activities that won’t matter in the long run? If so, create an automatic email response so people contacting you receive a friendly yet clear, “Thank you for getting in touch. I am working on my __ (what project?) this __ (month? quarter?) and will be answering emails (how often?) If this is an emergency or business request, please contact ____ who will happily help you. Thank you for understanding. I’m excited about finishing this and appreciate your support.”
5. Establish ACCESS boundaries. As the saying goes, “I’m not anti-social, I’m just pro-solitude.” Have metrics for how often and when you’ll be accessible to the public. You may worry you might offend people by taking yourself off the grid. Ask yourself, “Am I supporting everyone else’s priorities at the cost of my own?” Get creative and turn “Let’s get together for lunch” into a walk/talk so you can stay connected and stay fit.
When I read this article from Sam Horn, it says what I have been feeling. We need to take the best parts of this covid-19 and turn it around to be a positive. I know it is a pandemic, I also believe the world was in a spiral going down, down, and down. My business took a nose-dive and because of this I had to make a pivot somewhere, somehow.
The pivot was to take my MusingAbout to an online product with the option to purchase a printed copy. And the printed copy is lovely, let me tell you. Yes, the download is more reasonably priced but holding something tangible in your hands make for another experience.
This time has been scary for me, as my business stopped due to covid-19. I have not been able to send out invoices for a product that I cannot produce at this time. How do I survive if my business doesn’t make it through covid?
When we are faced with a dilemma this makes us become creative, I feel. As we need to create a way out a way up again.
I also told myself that I need to have something to show for the time being at home. I can come out of this the same person I was before it struck.
Did I feel guilty staying still? You bet I did. At the same time, I told myself just take this time and be still think it through. When you quiet yourself you really can come up with ideas.
One thing I have taken the time to focused on is writing and reading. Turning that TV off is the best thing you can do. Mind you I do check in on the Twitter world just to get my little fix of crazy. It’s just for a bit, because if you stay there you don’t come out in a good place.
My thought for this time is to get back to what matters to me, get back to that little kid inside. Get out and play, sit and daydream, be still and take in this time for the good. When was the last time you were sent home form work?
Try not to be guilty about staying still for a few minutes a day. Be grateful that you are well and enjoy being at home with the kids and even your pets.
I believe the world needed this time off. I just hope we remember how it felt to be still and be that little kid inside on summer holidays.
You might want to post these policies where you’ll see them every day to remind yourself the creative ball is in your court and your decision to DEEP FOCUS is on your mental hands.
Sam Horne is a regular LinkedIn contributor that I follow. She is a global keynote speaker and bestselling author and branding consultant.