How to Stay Focused, Be Productive and Remember What Really Matters

SOS Team Jun 20, 2019

In a world where a thousand things are constantly competing for our attention — from our smartphones to the 24-hour news cycle to streaming TV — it can be more difficult than ever to stay focused.

While there’s some debate about how long attention spans really are these days, there’s no question that it’s difficult to keep our eyes (and mind) on just one thing.

When was the last time you felt focused — really focused — on one particular task or activity, without looking at your phone or your mind wandering to something else on your endless to-do list?

Multitasking Is a Myth

For most of us, staying focused is a serious challenge. And it’s hard to be productive without real focus. While most people think they can multitask, that’s actually a myth.

"People can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves," neuroscientist Earl Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, told NPR. "Switching from task to task, you think you're actually paying attention to everything around you at the same time. But you're actually not.”

And true productivity (not “busyness,” but actually making strides towards your goals) means focusing in on what really matters to you.

The good news is, there’s one solution that’s proven to help you focus, improve your concentration, and benefit all areas of your life — meditation.

How Meditation Helps You Focus on What Matters

According to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, people who regularly practice meditation may improve their mental focus by actually changing the way their brain functions.

When compared to people who don’t meditate, they were found to be better at quieting brain activity related to mind-wandering.

Specifically, meditation was tied to more stability in the ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC), a part of the brain linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.

In most people, it’s almost always active — hence why our minds are always racing!

But meditation works to heighten awareness and rewire our brains to better allow us to focus on what matters.

Another, earlier study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that “mental training [through meditation] can significantly affect attention and brain function.”

Tips for Figuring Out What Really Matters

When we’re constantly busy and distracted, we rarely take the time to stop and consider what’s genuinely meaningful to us.

Are we spending our precious time wisely? At the end of our lives, will we be happy with what we’ve accomplished? Are we moving towards our goals, or just struggling to stay afloat?

Life moves more quickly than we realize, and these are important questions to keep in mind.

Meditation can help you refocus your attention on those bigger-picture parts of life that can get lost when we’re too busy.

Here are a few tips for resetting yourself and figuring out what you really want — and how to get there.

  1. Start a daily meditation practice, preferably in the morning (although you can meditate as often as you want to help you refocus, whenever you get a break throughout the day). Begin with five minutes, right when you wake up.
  2. Immediately after meditating, write down any insights or specific feelings you had during meditation. Maybe you realized that you want to spend more time with your kids, there’s a dream project you want to start working on or just enjoyed a warm, fuzzy feeling of joy. Either way, writing it down will help you remember and see patterns over time.
  3. Start acting on any insights you receive. Meditation will help you focus your mind and start to see the bigger picture amid all the distracting details of life. Start taking small steps towards anything you’ve learned through meditation.

If you want to work fewer hours, you could set a specific time for responding to emails instead of responding in a knee-jerk fashion. You could also consider setting a specific time for working on your computer. If you have a dream career you want to embark on, start prepping for interviews. Take one baby step at a time, and you’ll truly start being productive.

SOS Method and Staying Focused 

SOS Method’s app helps people get focused in many different ways; programs, tools, and special formula meditations. It has specifically designed Programs that support staying focused - we recommend exploring the Focus & Productivity section, which includes several programs designed to hone your attention span, help you become more successful, and increase performance and fulfillment.

As far as individual meditations, try the Painting Life’s Canvas Meditation, the Say Yes Meditation, and the Calm & Strength Meditation. (can we embed deep links?) Then there are our Tools — try the Highly Focused Intention Tool to really narrow your attention and discover why so many have said this is the go-to tool for moving toward their goals.

Starting your day with just one of the easy five-minute meditation will help you rewire your brain and refocus your mind on what matters. That way, when you go about your day, you’re already a step ahead.

You can stop wasting time on meaningless mind chatter, focus on what really matters in life, and move towards your goals.

The moments of your life are precious and irreplaceable — are you using them wisely?

Do you have any other tips or tricks for staying focused and getting to your goals? Share them with us on social media with the hashtag #SOSfocus!