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For anyone who wants to maximise their professional potential, and to ensure that their financial life – in addition to their career prospects – are in the best shape possible, it's essential to find ways to enhance focus and consistency.
In today's professional landscape, there are all sorts of different skills which are necessary in many domains, in order to achieve substantial and lasting success and growth. At the same time, there are all sorts of distractions and potential challenges that need to be acknowledged and guarded against.
According to various influential modern "gurus” on subjects like productivity and professional success – such as Cal Newport, author of the highly popular book “Deep Work” — the ability to focus single-mindedly on one task at a time, and to be consistent day after day, is essential for optimal performance in any context, particularly as automation takes over a lot of the more "shallow tasks" that can be more effectively multitasked.
Here are just a few tips that might prove helpful for increasing focus and consistency in your professional life, so that you can gain an edge, and avoid feeling as though you are letting opportunities and your potential fall by the wayside.
Dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters in the body, and in recent times has been getting a lot of attention for its fundamental role in things like motivation, drive, mood, and addiction.
According to the neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, the modern world has the potential to cause many issues for our motivation, drive, and ability to focus and excel professionally – and in any other context – because there are so many sources of stimulation on offer at all times.
To cut a long story short, it seems that repeatedly and regularly engaging in activities that sharply elevate dopamine levels ends up creating a situation where we become desensitised to activities which would otherwise have been significantly more motivating and rewarding.
If you spend a lot of time surfing the web and playing video games, for example, you can expect to find that your motivation to do just about anything else declines more and more with each passing day – and this is especially going to be noticeable with regards to things that naturally tend to take more willpower anyway, like work.
The key isn't to turn your back on the modern world and its conveniences, or to move into a cabin in the mountains, though. It’s to manage your dopamine “spikes” carefully.
Among other things, minimise how much time you spend on highly stimulating activities like video games and compulsive web surfing – and on things like social media. The more you can maintain a more stable baseline, the better for your motivation.
This, in turn, means you are significantly less likely to be thrown off course by distraction and procrastination, or to have significant issues with focus.
One other thing worth keeping in mind, according to Huberman, is that caffeine apparently increases the sensitivity of some of the brain’s dopamine receptors — which means it may have a positive effect at boosting baseline levels of motivation without causing desensitisation, unlike with other stimulants.
Your ability to focus and to be consistent in a professional context will naturally be significantly diminished if you are hit by an unforeseen issue that you haven't properly accounted for, and that derails your professional endeavours in a significant manner.
For this reason, it's important to do what you can in advance to put proper contingencies in place to help you to deal with potential stumbling blocks that may arise, before they actually do arise.
Among other things, keeping the details of a reliable mechanic on hand may be useful, and you can learn more about that here. Different forms of insurance can also be invaluable, as can having savings set aside to help absorb major setbacks like the unexpected loss of a job.
While it's impossible to perfectly predict and mitigate all the potential issues that might develop, it is possible to put reasonable steps in place to account for many.
The writer Charles Duhigg, author of the book “The Power of Habit” has commented on what he refers to as "keystone habits," by which he means certain habits that have a "cascade effect," and naturally result in other habits automatically being facilitated.
"Keystone habits" come in both positive and negative forms. A negative keystone habit might be something like missing out on a night of sleep, therefore resulting in a higher likelihood of skipping the next day's workout, consuming junk food, and other undesirable behaviours. A positive keystone habit, on the other hand, could be something like sticking to a healthy diet routine – which would then promote other healthy behaviours like exercise.
By identifying positive "keystone habits" that help you to remain as energised and driven as possible each day, you can significantly enhance your professional focus and consistency.
On the other hand, if you don't pay proper attention to keystone habits – or, worse, if you allow negative keystone habits to become established – it can be very difficult indeed to remain properly consistent.
The more potential sources of distraction you have at hand, and the more complex your professional routines are, the higher the likelihood that you will struggle to focus consistently, and to manage your overall stress levels.
Striving for simplicity can make it much easier to tackle one task at a time without feeling overwhelmed, and to maintain a clear sense of what you should be doing at any given moment.
While it won’t always be possible to create a "simple" professional routine, there will generally be things you can do to streamline things, and to manage your working environment to make your situation at least somewhat simpler.
Simply having fewer distractions in your immediate surroundings can automatically remove a lot of the tension that naturally contributes to a loss of focus, and to an increased likelihood of procrastination.
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