This video is part of a series. | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 (summary)
Get the free manual for the series, the Concentration Basics Quick Start Training Guide (pdf).
as this video is itself a summary, it wouldn't make sense to summarize it further, so contrary to my usual posts, the text below is mostly a transcript of the above video.
As we reach the end of this series, I want to give you a summary of the principles and exercises you have seen so far, and show you how to combine them to grow your concentration powers in the shortest time, and with the least effort.
There are three main problems we encounter when we try to apply or improve our concentration.
The first problem we face is that trying to concentrate on tasks that are not inherently interesting or otherwise enjoyable for us usually leads to strain and rigidity.
Applying excess tension in these cases immediately lowers our mental stamina and creates a vicious circle of trying too hard, wanting to escape the sensations that arise because of that, and feelings of failure, that ultimately leads to chronic stress and burnout.
Problem 1: straining creates a vicious circle of excessive tension.
Problem number two is that even when our focus is 100% tension free, it only lasts briefly before our unconscious attention management process moves our attention away from our initial target, towards some other object that it happens to see as more interesting or important.
This happens outside of our conscious control, so distractions seem to be inevitable, and we are unable to control this process through willpower.
Problem 2: inevitably, our unconscious process directs our attention elsewhere.
A third problem we encounter at a more advanced stage is that even if we could avoid distractions and stabilize our attention once directed, real-life tasks are not usually like the typical repetitive acts we use for concentration training.
Real life is more like cooking in a busy kitchen, where you have multiple dishes on the stove and more orders coming in all the time, and any small mistake can throw a wrench in the whole process.
Real-life work often requires us to switch between changing tasks quickly, which can be confusing and stressful if a part of us still clings to the previous task subconsciously.
Problem 3: when we are under pressure, we tend to cling to previous tasks in an attempt to exert greater control, which once again leads to attention splitting.
Throughout this series, I have shown you how to counteract each of these problems:
- Centralization or funneling practice enables you to focus without strain, so that your thinking is sharper and you can potentially sustain focus for prolonged periods.
- Micro-tasking reduces the perceived load of your work and is a way to further release excess tension and increase your mental stamina. It also provides you with a structure to plant seeds of intent in your unconscious attention management process very easily and frequently.
Planting our intent to prolong our focus so insistently quickly prompts an adjustment in the unconscious process, so that our periods of intentional focus grow longer, while the mind wandering spells lose ground and eventually disappear almost entirely.
- Finally, target switching practice trains you to return to your target more consistently when you “wake up” from mind wandering, and to move your focus between different tasks more easily and smoothly.
Now, how do you put all this together in a time-efficient training regimen?
First of all, trying to practice all of these things at once will get you nowhere, fast.
Everything I’ve shown you eventually comes together in the act or habit of concentrating effortlessly, yes. But I have treated these various aspects as separate issues precisely because focus is often reduced to only one of them, and you can try to improve your focus for a long time and fail because you are only working on one aspect of it and ignoring the others.
For example, it doesn’t do you much good to try to plant your intent to stay with the target if you haven’t yet learned how to centralize properly, because your stamina is going to be low, so even if you consistently wake up from distractions early and go back to the target, you’re still going to tire out quickly.
Here's a more intelligent way to train:
Focus on each of these aspects in turn and rotate them in a cyclical pattern, improving a little more on each of them with each new cycle.
You keep cycling these three phases - centralizing, micro-tasking and target switching - and raising the bar just a little every time.
I call this "wave training":
I often apply the same principle in other areas. It’s very effective to minimize plateaus in your progress and integrate the various different aspects of the abilities you’re working on, so maybe I’ll have a full video on that in the future.
For now, this is all you need to know to apply it successfully in your focus training.
I used this exact same pattern to improve my mental performance way beyond what I once thought possible, slashing the time it took me to write a post or video to less than half of what it used to be, in less than a year, and that was only one of many benefits.
Want a ready-made progression for beginners?
Download the FREE quick-start guide for this series.
Do you resonate with this structured approach to mental enhancement?
If you do, you will love The Focus Blueprint.
The Focus Blueprint is my introductory concentration course that will guide you to augment your concentration powers in the shortest time possible using the wave pattern.
- ready practice tables for all exercises and waves
- my tips and tricks to make progress faster
- various enhancement techniques that I used for my training but didn’t discuss in this series
- and of course, a comment section under every lesson to get all your questions answered
I also plan to expand the course with sections about how to apply the methods you have seen in these videos for enhanced mental toughness, stress resilience, self-discipline and so on.
Links and downloads