How to Focus – VLOG

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by Melody Fletcher on July 26, 2011

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Today’s video is in response to a request from Kelly on Facebook, who wanted to know if I could create a video or blog post about “How to Focus”. In this Law of Attraction work, we talk a lot about focus – focusing on what we want, focusing on certain thoughts or different frequencies. It all comes down to our ability to focus. But in this world today, with the technology we have, with the internet, Twitter, Facebook and the remote control, we’ve pretty much progressed to the point where we have the attention spans of gerbils. Our main motto might as well be: “Too Long, Didn’t Read.”

Transcript of Video:

Now, the reason that I said that our attention span had progressed instead of regressed, is because I don’t think this is all bad. I think that we’re in the process of changing the way that we sort out and select the information that we’re willing to spend our time on. When we flip the channel or shout “Next…next…next…”, we’re actually becoming a lot more selective in what we’re willing to pay attention to. If something isn’t truly entertaining or educational to us, we’re no longer as willing to tolerate it.

The downside of this situation is that once we do find something that we actually want to pay attention to, we may have some trouble concentrating. And that’s because Focusing is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. The less you use it, the weaker it gets. So, if you’ve been suffering from weak, wimpy focusing muscles, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks today that will help you to strengthen those muscles.

Note: I’m not going to talk about things such as “Make sure that you don’t get distracted.” You already know that. I’m hopefully going to hit some bases that you haven’t heard of before, at least not in this context.

Strengthen Your Focusing Muscles

Every solution I’m going to give you, is something that you can implement immediately, in the moment, while you’re having trouble focusing – except the first one. This one is more about preparation. Just as going to the gym regularly can make you stronger and make it easier for you to get up the stairs when the elevator breaks, so can regular meditation help you to strengthen those focusing muscles for when you need them.

One of my very favorite beginner’s meditation techniques, is to simply sit, close your eyes, breathe and count your breaths. And when your mind wanders (as it will), just gently bring it back to your counting. Over the course of a few days, if you meditate 15-20 minutes a day, you’ll see a major improvement in your ability to concentrate. On the first day, you mind may wander by the count of 5. But after a week, you may be able to get up to 20, then 50 and eventually even 100. Your ability to focus will continue to increase and you’ll be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Don’t Try to Focus on Things You Don’t Care About

Make sure that whatever you’re focusing on, is something you actually care about. We have a paradigm in our educational system, where we force children to focus on things that they have absolutely no interest in and we do nothing to tie those things to anything they truly care about. And then we wonder why they have trouble retaining the information. If you’re an adult, you can make your own decisions. This means that if you’re focusing on something that you don’t really care about, but which you think you should care about, stand up for yourself, grow a pair and say “NEXT!” When you really care about what focusing on, it makes it so much easier to stay with it and concentrate.

Keep That End Goal In Mind

In the moment, while you’re trying to focus, remind yourself of whatever it is that you care about. Why are you reading this blog post, watching this video, researching this book, etc.? What is it that you’re hoping to achieve? What’s the end goal for you? That’s the thing you really care about. And if you keep that in mind, it’ll be a lot easier for you to keep from getting distracted and to stay on course.

Take Notes

Another helpful technique I like to use is to take notes while I’m concentrating. So, while you’re watching a video, listening to an audio or reading a book, take a piece of paper and every time something resonates with you, just quickly jot it down. You don’t necessarily have to keep the notes, this is more about the process. When you do this, a couple of things happen.

1.)    The act of taking notes automatically helps you to remember the points that were important and helpful to you later.

2.)    Writing also helps you to engage your brain in a very different way. Watching something engages your brain in one way. Listening engages your brain in a different way. And writing engages your brain in yet another way. The more ways in which you can engage your brain differently, the less likely it is and the more difficult it becomes for you to get distracted – either by outside stimuli or by your own mind.

Are Ideas Taking Your Brain Hostage?

Sometimes, your inability to focus isn’t due to a short attention span. It’s because there are too many things going on in your head. Particularly creative people have this issue. I certainly do. I can be having a fantastic and interesting conversation with someone, when it triggers an idea that may or may not be related to what we’re talking about. If the idea is really good, I’ll try to hold on to it, and by doing so, I completely disassociate myself from what’s going on in front of me. I can only truly focus on either the conversation or the idea.

What I’ve found is that if I keep some paper and a pen with me (which I do at all times), and just write down a few words to capture the main point of the idea, I can transfer the idea from my mind to the paper and be assured that I won’t forget it. This frees up my brain to re-focus on the conversation.  So, if you have the same problem – that you’re mind is always going a mile a minute – just stop what you’re doing and empty out your mind onto a piece of paper. You’ll know that you’ve captured your ideas and it’ll be easier for you to focus on what’s going on in front of you.

Fatigue = Lack of Focus

There are times when your inability to concentrate or focus may just be down to good old fatigue. You may just be tired. If you’ve been concentrating for hours, your brain needs a rest. Just as when you lift a heavy weight over and over again, it’s going to turn your muscle into Spaghetti, when you spend hours and hours concentrating, it’s going to turn your brain into Spaghetti. You need to take a break.

You can go and do something really passive, something that doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. Watch a movie that’s not too challenging, listen to some music, or play with a dog. Or, you can go and do something purely physical, like exercising, walking on a treadmill, swimming or lifting weights. When you do something purely physical, you take all the pressure off your mind and brain and you put it on your body. Now your brain can relax, and it begins to process all the information that you’ve given it. You’re not giving it any new input right now, so it can sort through what you’ve given it and reorganize it. And what often happens in this case is that some of the solutions that have been eluding you will start to hit you. I have some of my biggest insights while on the treadmill. Maybe you will, too.

Still with me? Excellent focusing!

So, once again, if you’re having trouble focusing:

  • Make sure that you’re not tired
  • Make sure that whatever you’re focusing on is something you actually care about
  • Remind yourself of your end goal and what you’re hoping to achieve by focusing on this thing
  • Take some notes while you’re watching, reading or listening, to engage your brain in a different way.
  • If tons of ideas and insights start to hit you, stop what it is that you’re doing and jot down some notes to get the ideas from your brain out onto a piece of paper, to free yourself up to concentrate on what’s important to you.

Have you found any ways to ramp up your focusing power? Share them with all of us in the comments!

{ 23 comments }

Andrew Olson July 26, 2011 at 18:55

Once again, I love the VLOG format!

These are really insightful ideas on creating more focus. I completely agree about exercise, I have my best inspiration at about mile 5 on the treadmill, after my brain has completely given up :)

I love the meditation tip as well. When you mentioned this topic, my first thought was that meditation is the best way to build focus, so I’m glad to see you feel the same way. It really, really works.
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Melody Fletcher July 26, 2011 at 21:26

Hey Andrew,

I mention meditation in pretty much every post… ha, ha. But yeah, looking at this from an energetic point of view, I was never going to recommend forcing ourselves to just “knuckle down”, or anything like that…

Thanks for your kind words! This video was much, MUCH faster. I pretty much did it in a day (except for the transcript), so the learning curve is pretty steep. If this keeps going, I might switch to an all VLOG or mostly VLOG format… (not promising that, though, let’s see how it goes.)

Hugs,
M
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Joe Bill July 26, 2011 at 21:54

So, what you are saying is…uh, oh…where was I…uh..yeah…you said something about focusing, OH YEAH!

Some people who have trouble focusing hyper focus on some things, thus leading to their fatigue as you mentioned. I guess there is a difference between focusing and intensity–some optimum balance between the two.

If you are dating someone, you may be focused on them–but if you stalk them to their place of work and such, that might be a little TOO much focus. On the other hand, if you start having sex with every person who passes by, that’s probably too little focus–and might lead to something exciting that makes you focus, like AIDS or pregnancy.
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Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:00

Ok, I see now that this post really needed a legal disclaimer. “If you are a total nutter who stalks people, I’m afraid that your needs are just a tad beyond the scope of this blog. Please go and seek professional help. Or someone who likes to be stalked.”

Thanks for pointing out this obvious oversight, Joe Bill. I can always count on you. And yes, there’s a difference between focusing and being crazy. Good catch, though.

Hugs,
Melody
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Joe Bill July 28, 2011 at 09:26

Melody,

A legal disclaimer is always a handy thing. Law of Attraction Legal disclaimer: If I have, by chance, attracted crazies I hereby change my frequency, jerks.
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Derrek July 28, 2011 at 08:05

Hi Joe. You know, I once knew a guy (emphasize knew), happened to be my roommate, who broke-up with his gf, and then started the online dating gig. He obsessed with it more than a World of Warcraft addict gets hooked onto World of Warcraft!! He’d check for replies on his profile 6-7 times in an hour, constantly check if girls he contacted were online, and continuously obsess over if or not he’s making the right move and if ‘this online girl’ is better than ‘his ex’, and if he should try to get his ex back. It was frustrating just being around him because the guy had zero drive to do ANYTHING else. He didn’t go out to get fit or have fun or just relax. He was broke most of the time and had no interest in picking himself up. His excuse was “once I find someone I’ll be motivated to get my life into gear”. So yeah, I get what you mean. Some people are chronic straw-scope-focus individuals.

Joe Bill July 28, 2011 at 09:26

Derrek,

Right. Addicts are often VERY focused on their addiction, and little else.
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Baker July 26, 2011 at 23:56

Taking notes is an excellent way to get the ideas to free up the mind. I do something similar to this. I keep a notepad wherever I go around me, and I jot down the ideas that I care about or resonate well with me. Sometimes my best ideas come when I’m actually driving in the car. Excellent tips.

Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:02

Thanks Baker. It’s gotten to the point now where some people in my life will actually stop me and tell me to write something down when I go off on one of my tangents. Interestingly, I tried using a voice recording function on my phone, but that didn’t work out. I just couldn’t get into it. Guess I’m old school, with pen and paper… :)

Hugs,
Melody
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harsh July 27, 2011 at 04:06

hi melody,
interesting idea of ‘vlog’ watched it first time.you mentioned that start doin medetation from counting the breath. What r the later stages could u plz tell me?
Sometimes when i try to visualise the thing to manifest ,in fact i m knowing abt LOA , doubt comes into my way. How to drop the doubt?
And i wanted to know where do u live(city,country).

Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:07

Hi Harsh,

The counting method is great for beginners because it’s simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. You can keep going with that meditation for ever, it’s really a matter of personal preference. There are thousands of different guided meditations out there. I find that meditating on certain symbols tunes me to certain frequencies. I may do some posts about these in the future, maybe publish a meditation sequence or something, but I’m not sure about that yet. Your comment has brought the idea to the surface again, though…

I think that my article about visualization will help to answer your second question: How To Visualize – The Secret To What Visualization Really Is.

I currently live in Barcelona, Spain and LOVE IT. :)

Hugs,
Melody
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harsh July 28, 2011 at 05:47

hmm barcelona nice place, i have read that meditating inside a pyramid helps a lot, we could reach to the medetative state easily and fastly.Also here in india the top of the temples are in the shape of pyramid. Whenever i visit the temple i feel peaceful and relaxed. Could you explain what must be going inside the pyramid?

Melody Fletcher July 28, 2011 at 15:43

Hi Harsh,

I’m not sure if the actual pyramid shape is conducive to creating a higher vibration (literature abounds in favor of and against support), but I do know that you can change the actual physical vibration of a location. Priests and shamans can do it with ceremonies, and the more these ceremonies are held in on place, the more that vibration is raised (providing they’re working with high vibrations). So, what you’re feeling could be the result of lots of past ceremonies, or a combination of that and some kind of physical effect that the pyramid shape as on the energy contained within. The important thing is that you recognize it and use it. A place with a higher vibration can support you in your energy work. It’s easier for you to reach higher energy levels faster (such as a deep meditative state), because the vibration around you is already higher. This is why shamans open sacred space before they begin to work – the higher energy field they create supports their work.

What you’re feeling is absolutely real. Continue to use it to your advantage if you can. :)

Justin | Mazzastick July 27, 2011 at 04:21

Hey Melody, You are getting to good at these vlogs. :)
I remember when I started on my book reading tour back in 2001. I decided that I would read as many books as Tony Robbins did which was about 700. I would go to a popular bookstore like Barnes and Noble get a coffee, grab my book of choice and sit down to read.

The problem was I couldn’t focus. I wanted to get up and move around yet I resisted the urge for a while until i became comfortable sitting and reading. It took me about a month until I could comfortably sit down and read a book without wanting to get up or have the brain chatter in my head distract my reading efforts.Now it is so easy but it was a struggle in the beginning.

I totally relate to the “Brain Hostage” situation. Happens all of the time.
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Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:08

Thanks for sharing a personal example Justin! Wow, 700 books. I’m sure that I’ve read that many in my life, but to sit down and make that a goal? Impressive. Also, don’t the bookstores mind if you just read and don’t buy?

Hugs,
Melody
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Glynis Jolly July 27, 2011 at 05:39

Your idea for meditation is interesting. I do meditation but I use a specific idea as my focus. I’ve never thought to do counting.
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Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:11

Hi Glynis,

Do whatever works for you. The counting technique is simple and effective, so it’s easy to teach. It can be used by beginners and experts alike. I still use it all the time, especially when my brain is scattered and I’m trying to calm it down. I might just take a minute or two and count my breaths, just to help me get more focused, without actually going into a full meditative state. But again, do whatever works for you. :)

Hugs,
Melody
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Vishnu July 27, 2011 at 06:49

Melody – the point that resonates most with me is making sure we’re focusing on something we really care about. Isn’t that the most important item? If we really cared about something, I think my level of focus would be quite high. But when I think about it, things I can’t focus on are things that I don’t want to do or have no interest in. I guess a question to ask when not focusing – ‘do I care about this’? If the answer is no, maybe time to stop reading that blog post or book.

Great video post again – and the transcript is?? for those of us who couldn’t focus on the video? lol – appreciate having both!

Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:15

You’re absolutely right Vishnu. For me, that’s the most important point, too. The ideal is to move into a way of life where we only really focus and act on the things we care about. This type of information gets us one step closer to that.

Thank you so much for your kind words! The transcript is for those who’d rather read than watch a video, for those who’d like to review the main points after watching and last but not least, for the search engines. Oh, plus, you can scan the content and decide if you care enough to focus all the way through the video… :)

Hugs,
Melody
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marc van der Linden July 27, 2011 at 07:59

Hi Melody,

Although it is a very common subject, you bring it in a very interesting way!

Don’t focus on what you don’t care about: It’s interesting remark that we are indeed getting so much information, that our way of filtering becomes different and better. Maybe we need to learn focus for ‘speed’ reading/listening/watching …

The one which has hit me the me the most is about ‘brain hostage’. Focusing on different topics at the same time is really difficult for me. I believe the quote ‘men can think only on 1 thing at the same time’ is true :-) I operate best in tunnel vision and have difficulties with peripheral vision, although it slightly improves with exercise. Making notes helps, but it is not always possible to make notes ie. while talking with somebody, making a note is not so easy to do at the same time.

Thanks for sharing!
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Melody Fletcher July 27, 2011 at 16:20

Hi Marc,

You know, there have been studies done that show that even women can’t really multi-task. Sure, it works when the tasks require almost no brain power. But TRUE multi-tasking, where several high level actions are performed is basically an urban legend. We can’t completely focus on more than one thing at a time, and when we try, none of the actions get our full attention and it’s basically just a waste of time.

You’re right. I don’t take notes during conversation, either. But when someone is sitting in front of me, it’s easier to focus anyway. Unless I couldn’t care less what they’re talking about, in which case, I’ll change the subject anyway. I just can’t be bothered with superficial conversations anymore. So, I don’t generally have trouble focusing in face to face conversation, except when I get an idea…

Hugs,
Melody
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Timo Kiander July 28, 2011 at 07:36

It is true that exercising triggers your brain in a new way. Many of the new ideas (for example for my blog posts) I have got when exercising.

Great tips by the way – and yet very easy to implement :)

Timo
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Melody Fletcher July 28, 2011 at 15:35

Thanks Timo! It can actually be any brain-dead activity. I’ve had some amazing insights while washing the dishes, too! :)

Hugs,
Melody
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