Focus is where attention and work meet to create momentum. The mind of a creative person shifts and changes based on the intake of data and scenery. Focus can be hard to find sometimes.
Alexander Graham Bell once said:
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
Our world today is not built for focus. Multi-tasking has replaced traditional attention for most people.
The Harvard Business Review recently released an article discussing the advances around the subject of focus. This study revealed that the brain can actually be taught to ignore distractions, as well as be more productive, focused, and creative.
According to the study, there are three exercises that will teach our brains to focus and be more creative:
TAME THE FRENZY. – Frenzy happens when anxiety, anger, or similar negative emotions put us in a position where we feel we’re out of control. The part of the brain that processes problem solving – an important part to creative processing – is hyper-stimulated by negative emotions. According to the HBR study, in order to be our creative best we should have three positive emotions to every one negative emotion. Exercise, sleep, and laughter are three easy ways to protect ourselves from leaning towards the negative. Also, it’s important to identify patterns that drive us to a negative. Starting meetings or conversations with positive topics, compliments, reflection, or humor can often set the tone for positive thinking. As we know, negative thinking always attempts to steal our creativity.
APPLY THE BRAKES. – Our brains are created to scan. Even when we’re focused and working on a project, our brain is scanning – which attracts distractions. We can apply the ABC method to our process in order to help us know if we should engage or brake on certain tasks: become aware of our options, breathe deeply, choose thoughtfully. By using this filter, we will find our focus becomes more laser like – which will enhance our creativity.
SHIFT SETS. – Shifting Sets is a principle where all of our focus is turned from the current project to a new one. Completely stopping work on a project will give us space, change the pattern, and allow the brain to refocus. Further, leaving a project gives us a new perspective when we come back to it later. A key to this task is a defining shift. Between tasks, it’s recommended to not only shift projects, but to shift our bodies. Change rooms, take a walk, exercise, change music or lighting…do something intentional to adjust the work space.
Hopefully these three exercises will help us regain focus and become more creative.