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Notes from “Extreme Focus: 11 Keys to Laser Focus, Intensive Concentration, and Titanic Productivity” by Dominic Mann

1. Focus your energy on one thing and do it well. Don’t spread your resources (time, money, energy) too thin.
2. Multi-tasking decreases productivity by at least 40%. If you work 8 hours a day, that’s around 3 hours and 12 minutes worth of productivity that is wasted.
The Three F’s: Focusing, Filtering, and Forgetting (doing one thing at a time, delegating to avoid taking on too many tasks and overloading yourself with information, exercising taking breaks and clearing your head)
Focus on the handful of things that actually matter. The 20 percent of activities that result in 80 percent of the results. Eliminate or delegate the rest. To keep sharp, make sure you take time to exercise and clear your head.
Immunize Against Distractions
Be Proactive, Not reactive
In the long run, reactive people never achieve anything. Extreme focus requires proactivity. This means working toward a definitive objective.
Getting up early (4-6AM, common 5AM) allows you to be proactive in your day, have some peace, exercise (increses daily productivity by 23%).
Manage your energy, not your time. Get the difficult, important tasks out of the way in the morning.
Finish with the easiest, least cognitively demanding tasks.
Start off morning with writing or learning and exercising. End with social.
1. The World Health Organization says that a healthy diet improves prodcutivity by 20%.
2. Several studies have found that daily exercise boosts productivity by 23%.
3. It is well known fact that multitasking almost halves productivity, reducing it by 40%.
4. Majority of people waste at least one hour a day to distractions.
5. Almost all white collar workers spend significant time on social media and sites completely unrelated to work.
6. Workers are constantly interrupted, constantly check email, and constantly distract themselves.
By exericising each morning, eating healthy, sticking to work related activities, and completing tasks sequentially, you can boost your producitivity by 98%. You can double your productivity.
You need to be obsessed to be a champion.
Be obsessed about the things you want.
Concentrate all your thoughts on the great desire in your life. The concentration must be continuous, unceasing – every minute, every hour, every day, every week.
The ultra successful are obsessed. The ultra successful live in a state of extreme focus.
If you are not obsessed with what you are doing, you will find it difficult to sustain extreme focus.
Physical: Exercise, diet, sleep.
Eating a lot of carbs results in spikes in energy and drop in blood sugar after resulting in post-lunch slump or constant need for coffee. Results in “brain fog.”
Eat high-fat, moderate protein, low carb.
For carbs, eat low GI (low glcemic index) foods.
Result = you can effortlessly focus intensely for prolonged periods of time. The body has a constant source of energy (because fat takes some time to break down), and you have your next meal pre-installed (body fat). Which means consistent, constant energy throughout the day.
Sugar messes with your hunger sensations, which makes it hard to focus.
Fat is good for the brain. 60% of our brain is fat, and when we don’t eat enough fat, the brain starts harvesting itself for the materials needed to create neurotransmitters and essential brain chemicals. Good fats: coconut oil, nuts, avocados, olive oil, eggs, wild salmon, grass-fed meats.
Bad fats (trans fats): canola oil, sunlowers oil, etc. Cause inflammation in brain due to high Omega-6 fatty acid content.
Exercise literally grows the brain. Physical fitness boosts intellect. Increase birth of new nerve cells. Double the number of new nerve cells in the hippocampus, part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Run on treadmill for an hour a day, five days a week (regimen recommended for average middle-aged adult).
Experiment: monkeys that did this learned twice as fast as other monkeys who did not. Increased blood flow to brain. It’s important to keep exercising to retain the benefits of exercise.
Exercise also increases sleep quality.
11. Flow: The human brain can only deal with a certain amount of information at any given time. (According to 2004 TED talk by Csikszentmihalyi, 110 bits of information per sec)
Listening to someone talk takes about 60 bites of information per second.
Flow is being in “the zone”
“The Zone” by Csik…. “Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.”
aka When your brain is fully immersed in the activity. There is no more attention to be allocated. One loses awareness of all else: time, people, distractions, basic bodily needs.
Another component to flow is having a clear goal and receiving immediate feedback. Enable one to adjust their performance.
Components of flow:
1. Knowing what to do
2. Knowing how to do it
3. Knowing how well you are doing it (i.e. instant feedback)
4. Knowing where to go (if navigation is involved)
5. High perceived challenged
6. High perceived skills
7. Freedom from distractions
Drive focus by recording productivity. Deep work (Cal Newport) is the “ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding tasks.”
Shallow work is work that is constantly interrupted or spent on tasks that are not as cognitively demanding, such as emails or meetings. Keeping track of how many hours of ultra-productive work we are doing motivates us to increase that number.
When you have a specific target in mind, you instinctively buckle down and become extremely focused.
12. Minimalism: Minimalism is a lifestyle free from the excesses of consumerism, from material possessions and clutter. Clear away distractions. Uncluttered and organized living.
Minimalist environments increase your available brainpower. A cluttered environment restricts your ability to concentrate and focus. If limits the information processing ability of your brain. To concentrate, process information, and focus as effectively as possible, a clean, minimalist environment is a MUST. (You’ll also be less irritable.)
13. Develop Habits, Develop Yourself.
You must become the kind of person who performs at the apex of their abilities. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Habits have three components: Cue (trigger), routine, reward.
To change a habit, switch up one of the three.
14. Outsourcing work. Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to save you valuable time and energy and give you efficiency and speed.
Upwork: hire a virtual assistant and see how much of the 70-80% of tasks you can outsource. You can hire someone for $3-5 an hour. http://upwork.com/
15. Solitude
Extreme focus can only be achieved when we set aside blocks of time for complete solitude.
Carl Jung built a stone tower in the woods where nobody could disturb him, with no electricity, no running water, so nobody could disturb him. He would go for a few days at a time, and then even a months at a time. With nothing to interrupt or disturb him, extreme focus was inevitable.
16. Smart Drugs
Amphetamines
Caffeine
Nootropics for cognitive enhancement.
Modafinil (aka Provigil)
17. Lifehacks
– Standing Desks led to up to 10% more productivity
– Get to sit once you’ve completed a certain task
Napping:
– 20 minute nap is an effective energy booster
– 60-90 minute nap can have same effect as 8 hours of sleep in terms of improving memory test results
– Parkinson’s law: If the assignment is due tonight, you’ll finish it by tonight. Give yourself that same law for tasks.
– Create a distraction to-do list (postpone a certain urge to do after you get your important tasks done)
Once we get distracted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to our original task.

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