Hyperfocus-How to Work Less and Achieve More by Chris Bailey-I have just finished this book having spent 2/3 days reading and taking notes.
The book is divided into two broad sections covering
Hyperfocus is directing your attention on something external whereas scatterfocus is letting your mind wander and directing your attention inward, connecting disparate ideas and experiences to come up with solutions to problems. Scatterfocus will generally see us looking to the future more often than the present or past.
Problem crunching scatterfocus involves holding a problem in our mind and letting our thoughts wander around it. This can be done when engaged in something habitual and pleasurable such as going for a run or walk, listening to music etc.
Hyperfocus is productive whereas scatterfocus is creative and scatterfocus can be carried out by letting your mind wander when you are doing something habitual and pleasurable.
The starting point in this book for Bailey’s hypothesis is that there are 4 types of tasks:
A combination of any of these traits will see you doing work that is either necessary, purposeful, unnecessary, or distracting.
Attentional space is a key concept in the book with an acknowledgement that each of us has a limit to the amount of attentional space we have at any one time.
Bailey claims there are 3 combinations of tasks that you can do:
- A few, small habitual tasks
- A task that requires most of our focus, as well as a habitual task
- A complex task
Productivity is not about cramming more into our life; it is about doing the right thing in each moment.
Choosing where your attentional span is focused and maintaining a clear attentional space is vital.
Hyperfocus, then, is choosing 1 important object of attention-1 meaningful, purposeful task. That is the first step to Hyperfocus.
Secondly, you eliminate external and internal distractions.
Thirdly, you focus on the object of attention.
Finally, you continually draw your attention back to that 1 object of attention if and when it wanders.
Intention should always precede attention. You can set an hourly awareness chime on your phone or computer to remind you to check what has occupied your attentional space.
ASIDE: I have written before about using the Pomodoro technique, which I have been doing for years. This is similar to what Bailey teaches in this book although the Pomodoro breaks are at 25-minute intervals.
You need to set specific, not general, intentions to be effective.
How to Hyperfocus
Decide how long you want to hyperfocus (25 minutes is good for me, having done the Pomodoro technique for quite a while now).
Anticipate obstacles ahead of time before scheduling the hyperfocus session.
Set a timer.
When to hyperfocus
- Whenever you can
- Around the constraints of work
- When you need to work on a complex task
- When the task you face is aversive
When it comes to managing distractions to hyperfocus we all know what they are but there are 4 types: Annoying, fun, no control, control.
Baily recommends meditation and mindfulness as useful tools which he has used for years which help with focusing and managing your attention.
This is a book I would strongly recommend if you want to improve your productivity and efficiency. The Hyperfocus being advanced by Bailey is similar to using the Pomodoro technique which I have found tremendously effective for years.