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Focus – the key success factor for boosting productivity


One quick glance around business offices these days and you might notice that the simple activity of focusing has become one of the most demanding actions to be undertaken while at work. Reducing it all to the most common denominator, we can see that nowadays, employees face an increasing daily bombardment of audio-visual distraction techniques.

Daniel Goleman, author & science journalist, has reported that the wide variety of gadgets, text messages, or e-mails can be certainly perceived as threats, who’s opinion is that focusing represents the most important key success factor in our professional lives.

Most of the times, focusing implies not only gathering all your attention on a specific action, but it also remaining focused on that particular task for as long as it takes to finish it. The digital environment has a huge impact on our brains and, most certainly, on our ability to focus as well. Although our brains are attuned to distraction, the environment plays the most important role on focusing.

Goleman also states in his work entitled “Focus, the Hidden Driver of Excellence, that our ability to try to ignore the audio-visual techniques is diminished by the “cognitive exhaustion” they cause. Therefore we have to search for ways to be focused, otherwise we will not be able to concentrate anymore.

Mindlessness represents the condition when your thoughts are always wandering, and when it’s very difficult to concentrate.

Its opposite, the mindfulness, represents its “cure,” so as to say, because it implies training your brain in order to focus on a certain situation.

Although our capacity to apply full attention represents a great mental asset, some steps need to be followed in order to help our brains get highly focused. In this sense, Goleman identifies three types of focusing:

  1. Inner focusing;
  2. Other focusing;
  3. Outer focusing.

This “triple-focus”, in Goleman’s terminology, regards self-awareness (inner focusing), empathy (other focusing) and the environmental awareness (outer focusing). One of the best methods that helps developing concentration is the “single-pointed concentration.”

Focusing on one single action at a time could easily improve your ability to focus. This method also implies keeping a positive attitude and enhances the capacity to remain focused and to be productive.

Goleman displays the ability to focus as a mental muscle which has to be trained by both physical and psychological exercises, in order to improve concentration. The hierarchy of getting things done has to follow several stages, as Nadia Goodman states, in order to raise your concentration power:

  • Do the creative work first. One of the secrets of focusing consists in using your brain’s fresh power for doing the creative part of your work first. Creativeness implies developing your brain’s resources and improving your concentration for the analytical tasks.
  • Manage your time by a correctly allocation. Researchers have found out that people are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week, and that almost 90% of people are at their highest cognitive point outside the office. Of course, those six hours have to be very clearly allocated to the most relevant tasks only, especially since some of us focus best in the morning and others late at night.
  • Train your mind. Our brains are usually unfocused because we train them to be unfocused. The brain certainly adapts quickly to multitasking, so practicing concentration by focusing our attention on a single task should be the best method.

Getting organized by cleaning your workplace and prioritizing your tasks also leads to concentration improvement. Organizing plays a fundamental role in achieving concentration and in reaching the highest efficiency levels you are capable of.

Staying motivated by permanently setting a purpose for your work and permanently evaluating your productivity level will certainly lead to higher levels of personal performance.

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