What’s your habitual time unit of focus? An hour, a day, a week, a month – or more – or less? What quantum of time do you block out for a singular, intense task?
Probably all intervals of time have their place, depending on what you need to get done, though, of course, there are limits to sustaining concentration a single thing. The question is whether we adopt these units all as much as we need to or would benefit from.
Our schedule is probably already interspersed with fixed appointments and meetings. I’m talking about how we deploy our discretionary time around all of that, such as it is.
Focus for an hour (only) is a frequent habit for me, and a successful one, up to a point – not too long to be shutting other things out and long enough to make an impact on a task. Blocking out a longer period of time exclusively on one self-directed activity is uncomfortable and seems very, well, dangerous – too long to be ignoring everything else, but it’s necessary – necessary to make progress on bigger projects.
Many sources guide us in shutting out inconsequential activity and maximising our attention to what matters most. That’s very important, and necessary to achieve profound outcomes. Unfortunately, it’s generally not enough. We also need to accommodate the seemingly inconsequential activities that add up to vital progress too. For instance, it’s little use getting a book written or a product developed if we don’t also progressively do the little things that gather an audience for our work.
Fewer sources show the way in doing both: focusing on the big things but still fitting in the small tasks without losing ourselves in the “thin” things – successfully “spinning plates” in other words.
Being conscious of different units of time and setting boundaries around those may help. Different ones apply in different situations. For instance recently, I’ve been finding having a clear focus for a day (besides the existing commitments) is something worthwhile to strengthen – to decide that today I’m going to concentrate on x, even though y and z are also clamouring for attention. They can have their turn tomorrow and the next day.
Which units of focus are you using effectively:
Less than an hour
More than a month?
Sustaining a clear focus for a whole day is the stretch for me. Perhaps it is for you too.