Ultra focus Is Key To Success


Focus work and collaborative work are the two main forms of work we do during the course of the workday.

Giving focus work our complete attention increases productivity. It entails coming up with ideas or plans, putting them on paper, picking up new skills, running intricate analyses, programming, and many other “maker” activities. Conversely, collaborative work necessitates communication with others. It include participating in conferences and calls, reading and sending emails and chat messages in groups, collaborating on ideas with coworkers, and performing several other “manager” duties. It turns out that contemporary knowledge work is very collaborative. For instance, knowledge workers used 70 to 85 percent of their time prior to the Covid-19 epidemic in cooperation and experienced an average of 50 to 60 interruptions daily.

But as a result of the epidemic, video meetings have emerged as the “new normal,” forcing knowledge workers to add an extra seven hours of meetings to their weekly schedules, from 14.2 hours in February 2020 to 21.5 hours in November 2021.Many of us attempt multitasking during the day to manage the collaboration and distractions from meetings, emails, and group chat messages. However, this tactic is also incredibly ineffective. Multitasking doesn’t even exist in humans.

The multitasking myth

Computer scientists first used the term “multitasking” in the 1960s to refer to a machine’s capacity to handle numerous tasks at once when it has multiple processors. Humans, on the other hand, do not have numerous processors like machines do. While completing routine chores that don’t need much brain capacity, like conversing on the phone while walking, we can multitask, we are not computers. As a result, when performing difficult jobs, we cannot multitask. For those with brains, multitasking is, in essence, impossible. What we refer to as multitasking is actually rapid task switching, when we alternate between various tasks. Even while it can feel useful at the time, research demonstrates that it’s a terrible idea. This is why.

First, moving between tasks drastically lowers our productivity. Even minor pauses can result in significant delays. Gloria Mark, an attention specialist, cites research in one of her studies that shows moving between tasks frequently makes work take a staggering 50% longer. One factor for this is that it often takes us over 23 minutes to return to a task after diverting our attention from it.

Second, attempting to multitask results in noticeably more stress. Higher degrees of frustration, mental exertion, and a sense of urgency are caused by frequent task switching. Mark claims that hopping between things throughout the workday causes us to always feel behind. Additionally, according to a different study, it even increases our susceptibility to anxiety & depression.

Third, continual switching undermines our capacity for intense concentration at work. According to Mark, we switch jobs every three minutes, with self-interruptions accounting for half of those transitions. Therefore, undisturbed time is a rare commodity in today’s workplace. In his brilliant book “Stolen Focus,” Johann Hari writes that most of us never work an hour without being interrupted. Any hierarchy inside a firm can apply to this: It turns out that the average Fortune 500 CEO only receives 28 (!) uninterrupted minutes daily.

Don’t misunderstand me. Cooperation is crucial. People’s ability to do things together that they cannot do alone is, after all, the raison d’être of organisations. Collaboration paves the way for both people and organisations to better serve their demanding customers. Collaboration itself is not the issue; rather, the issue is continual switching throughout the day. Thankfully, there is a better approach, and it only requires 90 minutes per day. This is why.

Why it takes 90 minutes in total

Spending the majority of your time in a state of profound attention is neither desirable nor feasible in an environment where work is primarily collaborative. You don’t have to, which is wonderful news. Only 5% of the time is spent in the intensely focused “flow state” by the typical knowledge worker, according to a McKinsey study. Just 24 minutes per day, or two hours, are taken out of a 40-hour workweek. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because we often switch tasks every three minutes.

Now, the McKinsey researchers also discovered that being intensely concentrated increases productivity by a stunning 500%. Additionally, they determined that increasing our overall productivity by roughly 100% by increasing the share of intense focus from 5% to 15-20%. In other words, by adding just one 60-90 minute intense focus session every day, you can roughly double the amount of work you accomplish each week.

Even the busiest knowledge workers can complete this. Don’t get into victim mode and persuade yourself your employer won’t let you do it, productivity expert Tony Schwartz advised in an article. Build at least one uninterrupted 60 to 90 minute time of concentrate into your day and observe how much more you accomplish. Develop “Ultrafocus” – a cool method for addressing your most crucial job of the day in a highly focused state, even on a hectic schedule – if you want to pull that off. How? Read on.

Ways to develop ultrafocus – This strategy focuses on three areas: scheduling and planning, reducing distractions, and enhancing focus. The following six will assist you in developing “Ultrafocus”:

Timing and Planning – It won’t help to just add a difficult concentrate item to your to-do list. There’s always something else you could do to check something off your list that seems more important (and less difficult). Here are two pointers to steer clear of this trap:

  1. Plan your “Ultrafocus” session on your calendar realistically, taking into consideration your chronotype and the responsibilities of your work and personal lives: “Ultrafocus” is best completed in the morning, ideally even before checking email or group chat, for the 75% of us who aren’t night owls.
  2. Prior to beginning your “Ultrafocus” session, establish a specific objective, such as “finish the plan” or “create the first draught of the presentation”. This will foster a sense of urgency and make it much simpler to stay motivated during the session.

Limiting Interruptions – Avoid adding to the difficulty of maintaining intense concentration for 60 to 90 minutes at a time by reducing distractions beforehand, especially those coming from your electronics. Here are some quick pointers to help you:

1. Keep computer distractions to a minimum. If you need to conduct web research for your specific project, do it now. Turn off the internet since being online is the primary source of distractions. Shut off your group chat, email, and any other programmes that are not essential for your focus task if that is not possible.

2. Reduce smartphone distractions to a minimum. As soon as a notice comes in that you don’t need to see, turn it off (preferably, all of them). Unmute your phone so that callers can still reach you in an emergency. Put your phone somewhere out of the way, preferably in another room, to finish.

Maximising Focus – Gloria Mark asserts that “[…] simply considering how we can cut off external interruptions really only solves half the problem.” The temptations to halt or distract ourselves must be faced once we have settled down to focus intently. This is how:

1. To stop oneself from unintentionally getting distracted, use focus tools like Freedom. Depending on the time you have available, you can change the length of your focus session (for instance, make it 45 minutes instead of 60–90 minutes). You can modify your blocklists by adding or removing websites that you might need for your concentrate work, or by “blacklisting” or “whitelisting” your favourite go-to websites.

2. Use my Pomodoro 2.0 method to get past your initial reluctance to conduct difficult concentrate work. Set a timer for 30 minutes to get things going. Decide whether to continue after the first 30 minutes for another 15 to 60 minutes, and then reset the timer. You’ll wind up extending your session nine times out of ten. You’ll be astounded at how much you can achieve in only 45 to 90 minutes after that.


1. What we refer to as multitasking is actually fast task switching, which decreases productivity, raises stress levels, and impairs our capacity for intense concentration at work.

2. Instead of attempting to multitask throughout the day, practise “Ultrafocus” by dedicating 60 to 90 minutes a day to your most crucial tasks.

3. Be deliberate in your planning and timing, reduce distractions, and increase focus to develop “Ultrafocus” Plan your session on your calendar realistically, establish a specific objective in advance, limit device distractions, and use tools (like Freedom) and strategies (like the Pomodoro 2.0) to maintain maximum attention throughout the session.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes it’s interesting because multitasking isn’t something that most people can do effectively. It makes you less productive overall.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GS says:

      Absolutely 💯

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anant says:

    Nicely written 👏… And a fact is multitaskers are rarely successful… Coz they do not realize their unique skillset ever

    Liked by 2 people

    1. GS says:

      You are right, Anant. Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.

      Liked by 1 person

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