Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fast Focus - A Quick-Start Guide to Mastering Your Attention, Ignoring Distractions, And Getting More Done In Less Time by Damon Zahariades



As an avid reader, I thrive on learning new ways to improve my life, achieve more, and be more productive. A few months ago I discovered Damon Zahariades blog on productivity and I’ve been hooked since. Damon has a down to earth approach to making more out of your time and getting things done. His writing is witty, engaging, and practical on every level.  He knows that few of us have the time or attention span to read through the verbiage to get to the meat of his ideas. Damon’s new book Fast Focus – A Quick-Start Guide To Mastering Your Attention, Ignoring Distractions, And Getting More Done is a gem that you need to pick up to embark on streamlining your life without added stress and work.

So many productivity books jump around and never really get to the point. Fast Focus is the exception and I was quickly engaged and immersed myself into Damon’s writing. As a professional with four boys I have been a self proclaimed multitasker extraordinaire for years. Guess what? Wrong! I finally admit that I can’t multitask and am not so great at blocking distractions out. Damon jumps right in and explains how his system can assist with showing us why it’s hard to keep focus, how to create an environment where we can focus, and 23 ways to fight distractions so we can get things done. I quickly related to the stories that Damon shared from his own distraction and productivity experiences and found myself nodding in agreement. Already, I have implemented some of his ideas and they work!

In particular, Fast Focus introduced me to the concept of “voluntary focus” which we all have. It is a muscle that can be strengthened with practice and time. I never thought about attention in this way and will gladly share this with my husband. What we can’t control is involuntary attention so let’s not even try. Damon calls out the key distracters to focus and if you are cell phone connected, you can guess what preys on most of us and the list does down from there. Even physical clutter can inhibit our success and as I looked around my own office, I cringed and made adjustments. Scents, lighting, background noise and air quality can be a key interrupter to focus.

Fast Focus offers 7 sound reasons why we need to strengthen our focus muscle for life improvement. In the past, I gave scant attentions to just how critical a honed in focus can impact my life. Most books don’t focus enough on the benefits to both our internal and external lives. One of these benefits will hit home for you:

  1. Improved production
  2. Stronger relationships with those that matter
  3. A boost in your critical thinking
  4. Better decision making
  5. Increased grit (my favorite!)
  6. Information retention
  7. Increased self control. 

These sure do sound like effective goals don’t they? This is a dream list for anyone interested in becoming more efficient and in growing both professionally and personally. For me, the real meat in Fast Focus is the numerous tactics to improve your focus. I suggest that you read them over and pick 5 to try over a 3 month period and see what improvements you see. Here are my favorites:

  • Limit daily task to 5 and no more or you will be overwhelmed
  • Do some aerobic exercises before you sit down to focus and work on your task list
  • Practice batch processing to keep your mind on one thing. For example, handle any tasks related to your email and online tasks in one session. Manage handwritten work within a separate work frame
  • Keep a log for a week or so to determine your peak energy levels. Choose your most productive times to tackle work
  • Tame your inner perfectionist. This one is a huge challenge for me. I focus too much on detail and perfection and it derails my results every time. 

Reading Fast Focus is like having a conversation with a good friend and gleaning tips, tactics, and hacks in a relaxed format to apply to your life. Information that Damon shares is very actionable and to the point. He offers a quick test to gauge your current focusing ability (mine was embarrassing). You won’t waste any time reading through pages and of pages just trying to find insight that will help you. This book reads like a blue print for success and can be used as a road map to bring you efficiency and success. Again, my favorite section of the book is the tactics to improve focus in addition to the numerous links Damon offers us to digest more information.

This is the perfect time to make a new start to achieve your goals and strengthen your focus so you can breeze through this year with focused thoughts and less stress. Pick up a copy of Fast Focus today to get on the best track for success!