Easy Trick to Improve Focus and Flow State

Today I ask, can you trick yourself into a better focus state?

Some years ago, before smartphones were a thing, I was a bit chaotic, I used to set my watch 5 minutes later than the actual time. My idea was that I’d be more likely to get into gear for a meeting and there would be less chance I would arrive late. But of course, there’s something that doesn’t quite work when you try to trick yourself like this.

For starters, you know you’ve done it, so you always know you can mentally subtract five minutes from the minute hand and then that’s the actual time.

But then in another odd way, it does kind of work. Physically seeing the minute hand of the watch on the hour when you’re not at the meeting, does prompt a certain emotional response. It’s like it more effectively reminds of the embarrassment of late arrival.

Today I want to relate a mental trick we can play on ourselves that really works even when we’re fully aware that we are doing it.

It relates to how we can better focus and maintain time in, what many call, “the flow state.”

In our distracted lives, and in this time when even adults seem to suffer from ADHD, focus is at a premium. It is far from a commodity. So if you can master it, you’ll be head and shoulders above the competition. Of course the quality of focus achieved varies greatly from person to person and from day to day. But we’re ALL able to improve over time and we can all choose to focus ever more selectively.

For me for a while, I felt inadequate in terms of my ability to sustain focus. If you asked me the question, what does starting a business demand of you in terms of focus, I would have felt a pang of anxiety and perhaps would have had a lack of belief. And indeed if we set or place the target too high, we can demoralise ourselves.

Now you will hear a range of opinion on this but I now think a good 4 hours of focus a day is actually a pretty realistic and practical level. If you do just 4 hours a day of high quality focus, I reckon you will do pretty well in life. So I agree with Tim Ferris, author of [The Four Hour Work Week](https://a.co/d/gYqTlem) He espouses, with flexibility, roughly four hours good focus a day is a good target to aim for.

But what if, as is true for so many today, your focus state is shot to pieces and even four hours seems daunting?

Well, in line with the Simple Focus philosophy, take small steps and work up to it. But if you employ the technique I’m about to recommend, I reckon you’ll surprise yourself and get there pretty rapidly.

So here’s the trick. At first, attempt to achieve just ONE hour focus.

But bargain with yourself. Say to yourself “as I’m going for such a short period, I’m going to double down on ensuring I have laser focus with no slacking-off whatsoever.”

But surely just one hour isn’t enough. Where’s the trick that will make this work?

Well it’s simple. If you do apply yourself with laser focus for an hour. You will find, quite naturally, it turns into three, or four, or maybe even seven eight or nine. Because, of course, that’s the way focus and flow state works. The more you commit to it, the more you stay in it. The more you WANT to stay in it. And the good thing about this trick, is it works even though you’re tricking yourself. Say, all I have to do is commit hard to the next hour. It doesn’t matter that you know that can end up lasting longer. Just take the first step, do it properly, and you don’t need to worry or overthink the rest.