Ok, so you might think I was being unfair or unreasonable yesterday:
After all, I lived in a monastery, and I’ve had 25 years of practice in meditation, unlike most other people and probably you as well.
So clearly, deep focus and single-pointed attention come naturally to me, right? I was trained for it, so I have it easy?
To which reply my reply is a hollow laugh.
You might think that you struggle with focus and productivity as much as the next guy, but you don’t. Not if the next guy is me.
Oh sure: the last week or so, I’ve been in deep work mode, really into the flow of things and getting stuff done.
But that’s only the second time this year (same thing happened when I started drawing with charcoal a few months ago), and in the last decade it’s probably happened 5 times to be THIS absorbed in focus.
And each time, it was for a day at best. Never more.
So no, it’s not my meditation history that did it for me. And so you don’t need to feel like you can’t focus this deeply, because you can.
Which is why I’m sharing now the trick – the *how* I did it.
And it’s real simple, and literally everyone can do it.
I know this because every human being can choose.
And making the right choices and decisions is what gave me the magic access to this deep focus. And you can make better decisions too.
I simply got serious about the choices I make.
Choices on what to do, on what not to do, and choices about the choices I make – yes, the meta-level.
As in: my todo list normally would be just grow, but I’d never go in to process and check things off.
In other words: there was pre-made choice to not keep track, or keep in order, or to not deal with it.
Last week I made different choice: to choose every task and action and sequence, but very deliberately.
Instead of casually throwing a slew of tasks at my day or my week, I started getting severe and methodical about deciding what I will and won’t do, and when.
This by itself gave me an enormous amount of mental freedom.
No longer was my subconscious tugging at my attention, trying to remind me that my todos weren’t in order.
And because at the start of each day I’d carefully chosen what I was going to do (and I had decided to show up and do the thing and I actually showed up) I kept finding enormously engaging and useful tasks on my todo-list, pre-planned and structured, ready to dive into and lose myself without any mental distraction!
So yeah, nothing to do with meditation: If you set yourself up for productive focused work the way I did, of course it’s going to be stupid easy to end up hyper-concentrated.
All because of decisions.
And you can do it too, with just a few simple steps:
1: Decide to get serious about deciding
2: Make the best decisions you can as to what will and won’t get your attention, and when
3: Decide to show up at the time you set, and to simply work down the list of tasks, as you find it.
4: Show up, dive in, and lose yourself.
Oh yeah, I forgot step 3b: plan when you’ll stop to eat. Doing this thing right can engage you so much, you won’t even notice you got hungry.
Try it: You might be very surprised at what happens when you start getting deliberate about your decisions.
Also published on Medium.