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Focus has many meanings depending on the conjuregram review, but they all revolve around the state ofclarity, a point ofconvergence, a centre ofinterest or activity. Mental focus, which is what this book is about, refers to our ability to concentrate and direct our attention and energy onto something. This definition implies that focus is a deliberate action. It is not a state ofmind, at least not initially, and requires an active approach to bring our attention to what we want to focus on and then to maintain it. That’s good and bad news. It’s bad for those ofyou who were hoping for some ‘holy grail’ of‘instant focus once and forever,’ but good news for those ofyou frustrated with pursuing those elusive holy grails.
For simplicity, I use three terms, focus, attention, and concentration, almost interchangeably through
this book. But, for the record, here is a very briefoutline ofthe differences between them:
Attention is your ability to attend to inside or outside stimuli; attention can be focused or divided Focus is your ability to direct your attention to one selected stimulus Concentration is your ability to sustain focus on one thing (stimulus) for a prolonged period oftime (1) There is no ‘holy grail’ oflaser-sharp focus. There is no ‘one size fits all,’ either. The ability to focus s a skill you can learn, improve, and adapt to whatever your current needs are. How you achieve it depends on your individual situation, your mindset, your skills, and most ofall, your environment. So stop chasing those holy grails and keep reading.
How Focus Works
Let’s start with understanding how focus works and what can get in the way ofyour concentration.
Focus, as explained in the previous section, is your ability to direct your attention onto one thing
In a (simplified) nutshell we can say that attention (and hence focus) can be directed in two ways:
‘automatic’ and ‘intentional.’
Automatic attention’ is very short-lived (8-12 seconds). It’s geared up to detect danger in our
environment—to hear, see, smell, or otherwise perceive any changes around and inside us. So any
unexpected noise, flashes oflight, stab in the back, pain in the stomach, or that fear rising in your
head, will be automatically brought to your attention, dragging your focus away from whoever you’re
doing at the time

Automatic attention evolved as a life-saving ability. However, in the modern day when every
electronic device is equipped with flashing lights and a variety ofannoying sounds, automatic
attention can ruin your focus very quickly.
‘Intentional attention’ is subject to our conscious control. We turn it on when we want to focus on
something, and offwhen no longer interested. Its natural span is ... 10 minutes (2). Not much, is it?
No, not enough to read a chapter, or definitely too little to complete a report.
Fortunately, we all have the ability to extend it beyond those meagre 10 minutes, but unless you put in
extra effort to keep at it, your focus will start drifting away.
How can you do it?
To keep intentional focus on a target for longer than those 10 minutes, you need to feel involved in the
task and find it attractive enough to keep going. These two factors can be influenced consciously and
we will talk about it more in Chapter 10: Problem With Attention Span? No Problem!.
However, being able to focus for longer periods oftime is not just a matter ofsome attention
superpower. Your body needs to feel comfortable enough to maintain its position, your mind have to
be clear enough to follow the content, and your environment should not get in the way.
In this briefchapter I explained the key concepts that will be used throughout this book: attention,
concentration and focus, and how they work. In the next chapter I will show you how to identify the
problems with your focus. Keep reading!

In this chapter we will talk about the very first steps you need to take in order to successfully improve
your focus:
Two types ofproblem with focus
How to identify what’s not working for you
Identifying patterns
Where to find useful advice on addressing your specific problems
The reason I started writing about focus and came up with the idea ofmy free 4-part email course
“Improve Your Focus” (parts ofwhich have been incorporated into this 
conjuregram review ), was the frustration with blanket, ‘cure-all’ advice I came across on the Web.
A number ofpeople I spoke to before writing this book: students, small business owners,
entrepreneurs, wannabe-preneurs, and career shifters, complained about their disillusionment with
generic advice, ineffective techniques, and overall lack ofpractical ‘how-to’ they have encountered
when seeking solutions to their focus problems.
Those ofyou who read my Quora answers or Shapeshifters Club blog posts may know about my
particular view on meditation as a way to improve concentration. Not that I have anything against
meditation in general—it is a great way to enhance your physical and mental wellbeing, achieve
focus, peace ofmind, fulfilment, and other things. But it is not the only way to achieve those goals and
may not work for everyone, and most ofall it is not a ‘cure-all’.
Do you know that failure to recognise what’s not working (diagnostic errors) are the most common,
most costly, and most dangerous medical mistakes? (1)
Luckily, our lives and health are not at risk here. Nevertheless, before you start investing time, effort,
and maybe even money (productivity apps, anyone?) into fixing your struggling concentration, take
time to diagnose what’s not working.
Diagnostic process is not used only in health settings. Understanding the problems first so that you
can apply a targeted solution is the foundation ofeffective problem-solving strategies, regardless of
the industry, specialty, or areas oflife.
I believe that ifsomething is not working, the best way to fix is to understand what’s not working in
the first place. This stems from my medical training: a good doctor will take time to understand the
underlying cause ofyour illness before they prescribe any treatment. They will keep multiple
hypotheses in mind, aware that different problems may present with similar symptoms. So he/she will
explore the symptoms, run some tests, or do an x-ray.
Sadly, I am unable to diagnose your focus problems individually, but I have come up with a way to
help you identify what’s not working.
The section below will guide you through the process I use and recommended to many ofmy students.
It may feel like it’s time consuming and unnecessarily slowing the process, but it is worth the
investment. I encourage you to run those logs for at least a few days, even ifyou feel you know what’s
not working for you.
Once you have completed your Distraction Logs, check the Laser Sharp Focus Roadmap at the end of
this chapter for further suggestions regarding where to seek help specific to your problem(s).
Two types of problems with focus
Now that you know how attention and focus work, you can imagine what may get in the way ofyou
being focused.
Generally speaking, there are two types offocus problems:
Threats to your ‘Automatic attention,’ so anything your brain may perceive as potential
danger and hence demand you refocus your attention onto it. Typically, these will be all
types ofdistractions and interruptions, such as flashing lights, warning sounds, and
anything making a sudden appearance, noise, smell, etc.
Threats to your ‘Intentional Attention,’ that is, threats to your ability to focus for longer
than those 10 minutes. Since this type ofattention relies on your interest and comfort,
anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, as well as boredom and lack ofmotivation,
are likely to drive your focus away from your task. Usually, these problems manifest
themselves as procrastination or distractions.
As you probably noticed, any ofthese problems can come from anywhere inside your body, your
mind, or your immediate environment. That’s why Part 2 ofthis book is organised around the three
main ‘focus danger zones:’ your environment, your body and your mind.
Usually, you are likely to experience more than one problem and often from more from more than one
‘zone.’ Ifyou happen to have noisy neighbours whose arguments you can hear even with your
windows closed, your mind will be tuning in and out oftheir arguments, be it out ofcuriosity or
emotional arousal because you will be growing angry or frightened (ifit is a really feisty fight). As a
result, you may end up with a headache, which will add to your difficulties concentrating on your
Many people, however, are able to identify a pattern or patterns to their struggles to focus. For
instance, early in my journey to laser-sharp focus, my main problem was falling asleep when trying to
study. More recently, when going through a period ofpersonal crisis, I had to deal with my distracting
thoughts about the situation. For you, it may be the flashing Facebook notification icon, or the chatter
ofthe TV in the living room next door, which in turn makes you wonder what your friends have been
up to or what’s on the telly. Or your inner critic, who is never satisfied with the quality ofwork you
How to identify what’s not working
The best way to identify what affects your ability to focus is to keep a distraction log. Distraction
logs are simple data collection tools. All you need to do is to record every instance your focus drifted
away from what you should be doing.

How do you do it?
It’s really simple. Every time you get distracted from your 
conjuregram review, pause to identify the cause. Is it something in your environment that dragged your attention away from your job at hand? Or is it
something happening with your body? Or maybe it’s your thoughts, or emotions, or anything else
playing on your mind.
As a minimum, you need to record the task you were working on, the time, the reason for distraction,
the cause, and other findings ifyou wish to do so.
Below is an example ofwhat a Distraction Log may look like. You can easily create one on a piece of
paper or an electronic document. Don’t make it too complicated, but include at least:
Time ofday
Task you were working on
The reason for losing focus
The cause ofdistraction
Go for whatever works for you: pen and paper or electronic. The format doesn’t matter as long as you
record your logs accurately and honestly.
For instructions how to get a copy ofDistraction Log template I prepared for you, check the Bonuses
section ofthis book.


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