A Simple Mind Hack to Stay Focused

My strategy for a meaningful life involves five steps.

Continuous Improvement

All of the steps above are ongoing tasks. None of them are complete as long as I’m alive.

The goals on the higher levels change rarely. A life goal takes several years to accomplish at best. But once it’s complete, a new life goal replaces it.

The steps on the lower levels are updated more often. I use new ways of optimizing the execution of my plans as I come across them.

Critical Points in Execution

As I explained in a previous post, there are some critical points in my execution. I’m susceptible to deviate from my schedule around those points.

For example, after the breakfast and lunch, I experience a dip in my concentration. After a break, I can’t get into flow immediately. At those moments, I’m susceptible to distraction.

Overcoming Distractions

An abundance of free distraction on the Internet is one of the drawbacks of our times.

At a critical moment, when my concentration is low, I’m tempted to distract myself with news sites and YouTube.

I know that if I relax for fifteen minutes working on a task, I’ll get back into flow and work for an hour or more.

The trick is to go through those first fifteen minutes when the temptation is at its highest.

Going through Energy Dips throughout the Day

Working at a standup desk helps me go through that low energy period.

Recently, I came across another trick to overcome the temptations to distract myself.

Virtual Vision Boards

I’m a highly visual person. Nowadays, most of us are. My recent mind hack takes advantage of that.

I download inspiring pictures from the Internet to a folder in my computer. Those are the pictures that remind me my life goals.

Going through those pictures during the critical moments inspires and motivates me to focus on the work at hand.

Some photos resonate with me more. I spend more time looking at those photos and imagine myself in those situations.

Preparation

This practice doesn’t take much time, because I search pictures to use in my blog posts anyway.

All I have to do is to bookmark some images to download them later when I have time.

I add new pictures to this folder as I come across inspiring ones. Some images don’t resonate with me anymore, and I delete them.

Adding Life Goals and Inspirational Quotes to the Mix

I plan to prepare some slides that combine these pictures with my life goals.

I also plan to create slides that include inspiring, motivating quotes from my own posts as well as other sources.

Going over those pictures and slides a few times every day inspires and motivates me more than just writing down and reading my life goals. They make the experience more tangible.

Impact on Deeper Levels

This practice not only affects me on an intellectual level, but it changes my programming on a deeper level.

When the movie Secret came out more than a decade ago, vision boards became popular. The practice in this post is a virtual, practical version of that.

Conclusion

I’m always looking for ways of optimizing the execution of my plans. The first fifteen minutes of a work session is the time when I’m most susceptible to distraction.

To overcome the temptation to distract myself, I go through an album of inspiring pictures that remind me of my life goals.

These pictures act as a virtual vision board. I plan to add an overview of my life goals and inspirational quotes to that album.

This practice is much more effective than just writing down and reading my life goals.

Your Turn

Which mind hacks do you use to stay concentrated and maximize your performance?

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.

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