Focus is an important ingredient in your success.
The more focus you have, the less you’ll need of everything else.
If you’re focused then you don’t need to study as long. You don’t need to work as hard. You don’t need to worry as much. You don’t need to eat as well and you don’t even need to sleep as much. (But sleeping and eating well can seriously help.)
Focus is your superpower. When you can laser focus on something, it’s almost like you can telepathically control it. If you can laser focus on information then you can virtually drag it right into your brain.
Focus is a fickle superpower that can feel like a handicap. OooOOooo something shiny…
It’s seriously like those superhero training academy movies where a young person discovers a super power and they don’t have much or any control over it. But by going to their superhero schools or trainings they can gain control over it.
I’m here to be the first to tell you…
Welcome To The Smart Student Superhero Training Academy
I’ll be your instructor helping you hone in on your superpower of staying laser focused in a way that makes things you want happen.
When you want to learn, you can laser focus on something to learn it.
When you want to do something, you can laser focus on it to do it.
When you want to say something correctly, you can laser focus on it and the words will flow out like your first morning whizz… Relaxing… I know…
Wonderfully informative a metaphor, right?
Focus can give you good things but it’s a superpower that you’ll need to use carefully.
One second your laser focused energy might be burning a whole through your textbook while you learn at untold rates of efficiency…
The next second you’re using that laser focus to stare at the hindquarters of the attractive someone sitting a couple seats in front of you with that same focused intensity…
You’ll need to keep an eye on that power.
That power is what lets you get caught up doing something fun for hours and hours while you procrastinate studying. It’s also that thing that MAKES you get caught up doing something fun for hours instead of ever studying… Oh boy…
That’s not what you want, right?
You want the power to control your laser focus superpower and that’s what this lesson is going to be all about.
Get ready… strap in…
And seriously… try to stay focused at least long enough to get through this. 😛
How To Completely Fail To Focus On Something
There is one sure-fire way to screw up focusing on what you want to focus on. I’m teaching this strategy to help you…
Stop doing this:
“Try” to focus on something.
You know when you’re sitting with your textbook and you catch yourself zoning out instead of studying. Then… you have the wise idea… “you know what, I should try to focus back on my…”
Sure… it might work for a moment but in 30 seconds you’re going to be back to daydreaming while your textbook longs for the look you give it when you actually care what it says. (Don’t make your textbook sad.)
“Trying” to focus is usually a waste of energy. The human brain isn’t a computer. We can’t maximize the window to cover the whole screen in our brain. We can’t close out of the dozen extra browser tabs. We can’t turn off our IMs.
The brain focuses automatically. It’s closing its own browser tabs automatically. Its window is always maximized. It doesn’t turn of its IMs because those are the things that help you hear approaching tigers in the bushes. (Did you just hear something?)
Trying to focus isn’t the goal.
The goal should be to create an environment conducive to focus –
You know… like closing browser tabs you don’t need. Putting your phone on silent (or god forbid, turning it off!) Throwing everything you don’t need on the floor and using your desk for only 1 thing at a time. Shut off the music. (Check the bushes for tigers in advance.)
That’s an environment designed to make focus automatic.
Now that you’ve created a focused environment – instead of trying to focus –
Try to do what you need to do.
When you’re using an active study strategy like flashcards (or any active recall strategy,) this is all that you need to do.
When you’re using a passive study strategy like reading, it’s a little bit harder. But… you’re reading Smart Student Secrets… so just don’t do that. There are ways you can improve your passive focus but that’s complicated. It’s easier to just use active strategies.
Instead of chasing focus – let it chase you.
But I Can’t Control The Environment
Sometimes you won’t be able to control the environment. One of the worst places to try and learn to focus is in the classroom.
And focus in the classroom will take some getting used to.
But it can happen.
And the best approach to dealing with these environments that you can’t control comes down to a strategy I call the Focus Fallback Strategy.
The Focus Fallback Strategy
I don’t have time to dig into every detail related to The Focus Fallback Strategy but you can read all about it in the Smart Student Secrets books.
The Focus Fallback Strategy is the acceptance that, at times, you won’t be able to focus on what you want to focus on. Your superpower may have it’s own kryptonite and when that happens… this is your backup plan.
Whenever your brain isn’t allowing you to focus on something, look for the next best thing you can focus on.
When your teacher is saying boring information, maybe you could focus on writing notes about what the teacher is saying (but try to keep those notes interesting. Make them silly, strange, dirty, or something you enjoy thinking about but related to the topic.)
When you can’t do either of those, maybe you could focus on the strange way that your teacher is talking, or let yourself daydream about the things your teacher is saying, or just count the number of times the teacher uses the word, “uh…”
The best case scenario is you focus on the information you’re trying to learn but when your superpower is hitting its kryptonite, you want to fallback to your backup strategy.
The books should help you dig into that a little bit deeper but this should get you started.
Train this superpower and it will actually feel like a superpower.
Let me tell you (an inappropriate) true story…
It was high school Spanish class…
I was a Senior in a class of Sophomores. There was one other Senior in the class. Best of all –
She was smokin’ (as the old folk say.) She was gorgeous. 10 out of 10. Tight jeans. And she always sat right in front of me in class (gulp.)
We were the only Seniors in the class. By default… that made me the coolest guy there… And trust me… I’m never the coolest guy there.
But we’d talk. Sometimes in class she’d lean over. I’d continue to pretend me importa la espanol stuff pero… Seriousamente… 😛
Sure… I’d show up to class. But my brain rarely stuck around for the lecture. And that’s why you might not be surprised I was getting a C- in class.
It’s funny how that stuff that distracted me in highschool wasn’t so problematic in college where I took a double course load and still scored near the top of my class…
You don’t need to be perfect to score near perfect.
You just need to know how…