29 August 2023 |

The Science of Focus

By Alex Alleyne

As SaaS sales leaders, we aren’t exactly scientists, but in many cases we need to lead with data. With that in mind, it’s valuable to unpack what the science says about Focus:

  • MIT research found that focused workers were on average 5 times more productive than distracted workers.
  • A University of California study found that participants allowed to focus without interruption showed up to 500% increased productivity.
  • Multitasking typically reduces productivity by 20-40% according to American Psychological research.
  • On average, it takes 25 minutes to fully recover focus after an interruption according to multiple studies.

The message is clear: focus is not just a “nice to have” for productivity – it’s a scientifically proven difference maker.

Strategically designing your environment, work rhythms and habits trains your brain’s focus capabilities just like an athlete trains their body’s muscles. 

You Aren’t Born With It

In our distraction-saturated world, the ability to focus deeply is a priceless superpower. But unbreakable focus doesn’t come naturally – it requires intentional systems and habits.

For years, I constantly multitasked, giving 25% effort to four things instead of 100% effort on one important task at a time. Despite the hustle, I was unfocused, scattered, and ultimately ineffective.

The breakthrough came when I realized I needed to architect my life to design rock-solid focus routines. Relying on scattered willpower wasn’t enough.

Here are 6 battle-tested strategies I’ve used to rewire my mind for razor-sharp focus:

  1. Audit your physical space – Scrutinize your surroundings for distraction triggers and ruthlessly eliminate them. Choose a quiet, interruption-free zone for deep work. Your environment profoundly impacts your focus.
  2. Audit Your Digital Space – Catalog apps and sites that hook your attention and distract you. Block these completely during focus time. Email, social media and Slack are huge culprits. Disable all notifications.
  3. Analyze Your Work Patterns – Determine if you are a marathoner or a sprinter. Block focus time in 25 minute sprints with 5 minute breaks, or longer blocks if you can maintain focus for hours. Experiment to optimize your rhythm.
  4. Institute Work Rituals – Treat focus as a ritual, not just a transient trait. I turn off my phone, use focus playlists and apps like Forest to create habits and get in flow. 
  5. Optimize Your Tools – Leverage technology to your advantage. Use phone screen time limits, browser extensions to block sites. Take total control of your digital environment.
  6. Shift Your Mindset – Don’t see focus as fixed. Reframe it as a muscle to train. Start with 10 minute focus blocks and progress from there. Consistency over an extended period of time strengthens your focus muscles.

Next Week: Crushing Procrastination

Next week, we’ll tackle the productivity killer – procrastination. I’ll share science-based techniques to finally beat procrastination by structuring your time and tasks effectively. We’ll unpack why we procrastinate and how proper planning can help optimize your focus by eliminating this common habit. From prioritization frameworks to psychological tricks, I’ll provide actionable tactics to stop procrastination in its tracks whilst maintaining unbreakable focus.