5 Practical Things Highly Focused People Do Daily

Visual Freedom

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


Today, we have access to more information than ever before. While that’s a blessing for various fields such as science and medicine, it often ends up being a curse for our mental health and productivity.

Most of us are surrounded by too much information without enough time to process all of it.

However, the good news is that you can learn how to overcome this flood of information and develop a method to deal with countless distractions. And that’s exactly what highly focused people do to thrive in the 21st century.

They don’t trust their brains

Highly effective and focused people don’t trust their brains. They know that their brainpower is valuable and don’t waste their energy on redundant or repetitive tasks.

Similarly, they don’t try to memorize basic information but store it externally.

Focused people have systems that do the work for them. These systems include planners, calendars, task management tools, and anything else you need to stay organized and effective.

The truth is that you can build your individual structures that align with your needs and wants. However, make sure to pay attention to the following rules:

  • Be sure your data can’t get lost: Your structures and information management systems need to be bulletproof. Otherwise, you won’t be able to fully rely on them and still waste mental energy. A notebook might look cute, but it’s not effective when you’re traveling or when it suddenly gets lost. Digital tools like Google Drive, however, are accessible from anywhere and make sure your data doesn’t get lost.
  • Ensure immediate access: To replace your brain, a system needs to be accessible anytime and anywhere. That’s why digital tools mostly outrank analog notebooks.

How to do it:

Ask yourself which information and data you’re keeping in your mind and how you could reduce the mental burden through digital systems and tools.

One simple yet priceless way to make sure you don’t need to trust your brain anymore is by creating an effective task management system.

I use Todoist to schedule, plan, organize, and prioritize my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

I start each work session by having a quick look at Todoist, so I’m aware of everything I need to tackle that day.

What I love most about it is that I can create tasks that are repeated on certain days. Each Monday, for instance, I get reminded to brainstorm content ideas.

At the end of each month, it reminds me to update my accounting and do a personal finance review.

Similarly, I have a daily to-do for checking my emails. Through this approach, I never have to think about what to do.

I put everything I ever need to get done into this tool. As a result, I never waste a second worrying about forgetting something. Instead, I can rely on the tool and get things done efficiently.

They say “No” to pretty much anything

Your ability to focus is directly proportional to your ability to say no. If you can’t say no to the wrong opportunities and people, you’ll likely lack the time and energy to say hell yeah to things that excite you.

By prioritizing yourself and your needs, you’ll have more time and energy. Additionally, it’ll be easier to focus on the critical tasks because you’ll be able to process information that’s truly important.

“It’s only by saying “No” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
— Steve Jobs

How to do it:

You can strengthen your no-muscle step by step and start with small opportunities.

Don’t want to meet up for coffee with that friend because you feel exhausted and need some time alone? Tell her.

Don’t want to spend the holidays with the family of your partner? Tell him.

Don’t want your colleagues or boss to expect replies to emails after a particular time of the day? Tell them.

Saying no is a skill. The more you practice it, the easier it’ll get.

And even though it might first feel uncomfortable or even painful, it’ll set you free in the long run.

They eliminate clutter

Highly effective people are well-organized. They don’t allow clutter to pile up on their minds or desks.

Instead, they keep their place cleaned up and ensure an environment that allows them to be focused and productive.

By eliminating clutter, you’re minimalizing the chaos in your life. An organized home and desk also mean that you have to take care of fewer things, which gives you more mental clarity.

“Have nothing in your house that you don’t know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

— William Morris

How to do it:

Start and end your workdays with a short decluttering session.

Make sure your desk is tidy and organized. This is not only about keeping things clean, but it’s also a form of self-respect.

We all like entering clean spaces, so why not allow yourself to experience that nice feeling each morning?

They keep their brains healthy

If you don’t feel well, you won’t be able to perform at your best. That’s why highly focused people prioritize their mental and physical health.

Most people don’t know that our brain functions and our ability to learn naturally decrease if we don’t actively protect them.

By taking care of your brain early on, you’ll ensure to stay mentally fit and healthy up until old age.

How to do it:

You can choose from numerous different activities, foods, and exercises to keep your brain healthy and happy.

Reading and writing, for instance, are great ways to foster mental stimulation and enhance your brain.

Another way to train your brain is to train your body. Physical activity won’t only improve your mood, but it’s also proven to significantly affect your cognitive abilities.

Healthy brains are calm brains. Mindful activities like meditation can help you detach from stressful moments and improve your brain health in the long run.

They choose single-tasking

If you want to be highly focused, you need to break up with multi-tasking.

In his book The Organized Mind, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin describes the effect of multitasking on our brains as the following:

“Asking the brain to shift attention from one activity to another causes the prefrontal cortex and striatum to burn up oxygenated glucose, the same fuel they need to stay on task.”

And while most people think that multitasking means doing various things simultaneously, that’s actually wrong. You can’t perform more than one activity at the same time.

Of course, you can listen to an audiobook while exercising, but you can’t do two or more productive things.

What happens when you try to multitask is that you quickly switch between tasks.

This doesn’t only decrease the quality of your work, but it also leaves you feeling exhausted and burned out.

How to do it:

Instead of multitasking, start doing one thing at a time.

Highly focused people often use flow states to enhance their productivity.

Positive psychologists define this state as the following:

“A mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

When you’re in flow, you ignore distractions you’re surrounded by, you’re fully aware of every action, have a strong sense of control, and you perceive time differently.

To experience flow states regularly, apply the following rules:

  • Clarify your goals: It’s hard to be focused and effective when you don’t know why you’re doing something. Having a clear goal will help you stay motivated and use flow states in your favor.
  • Make sure your skill level matches the challenge you face: You won’t experience flow states when you’re unchallenged or overwhelmed. Most people experience flow states when their skill level is just a bit below the task's difficulty so that they’re slightly challenged.
  • Make use of regular feedback loops: Being in a flow state is easier when you know you’re on the right track. If possible, create feedback loops with your colleagues. If that’s not possible, schedule regular self-reflection times to make sure you’re on the right path and working on tasks that move you forward.
  • Get rid of all distractions: Distractions are the biggest enemy of your focus. Eliminate anything that might disturb you during a productive work session and watch your productivity soar.

You’ve probably already experienced flow states in the past without even knowing what they are. Now, you can make use of them anytime by applying those rules regularly.

Final thoughts

Focus is the superpower of the 21st century.

Those who stay focused and work effectively end up achieving their goals and creating extraordinary results.

However, the reality is that being and staying focused isn’t easy. Every day, thousands of distractions and stimuli are fighting for your attention. And saying no to them isn’t always easy because your mental power is limited.

Don’t judge yourself when you fail to stay focused; it’s normal. We’re not made to deal with as much information as we face in today’s world.

Becoming a highly focused and effective person is a process.

Allow yourself to start imperfectly and choose progress over perfection. We all make mistakes. What matters is whether you try to control your mind by choosing small steps that help you regain your focus.

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