How to Focus Better: 11 Tricks to Improve Cognition and Skyrocket Productivity
If you’re curious about how to focus better, you’re in the perfect place. Trust me.
Why? Because I learned how to focus better through trial and error. Before I learned a few tricks and tips to improve cognition, focusing was never my strong suit.
Back in the day, I was the kid who slept all day in class and couldn’t pay attention even when I was awake. My parents would come back from parent-teacher conferences and tell me all my teachers thought I had ADD. Attention deficit disorder.
The teachers wanted me to pop pills. Thankfully, my parents had other ideas. They saw no reason to put an honor student on Adderall.
My grades were fine throughout high school and college, but I never cared or paid any attention. I just wanted to hoop. I’d watch YouTube videos of NBA players during lectures and then cram for finals.
I couldn’t focus on classes, nor did I want to. But eventually, the real world comes calling and a young man realizes money doesn’t grow on trees.
Reality popped me straight in the mouth once I graduated. The NBA certainly wasn’t calling some half-crippled 5’11” white guy and I had no valuable skill set to sell to corporations.
How was I going to generate money? I had no idea, but I knew it was going to take more effort and focus than I was accustomed to. I knew I needed to learn how to focus better.
And by golly gee willikers, I did.
I might not be where I want to be, but I’ve been able to replace the income from my first job out of college and then some by simply focusing on the process and publishing a mountain of content online.
I enhanced my cognition, improved my ability to focus, and taught myself value skills like copywriting, search engine optimization, and even a little networking.
I’m not saying this to hype myself up. I’m saying it because if I can sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end every single day…
So can you!
You can use the tips and tricks found in this article to improve cognition, enhance productivity, and achieve whatever goals you set out to conquer.
How do I know? Because I did that exact thing and I used to be the definition of an unmotivated, unfocused slacker.
P.S: This article about how to focus better is purely informational and should be viewed as entertainment. I am certainly not a doctor or a lawyer. This is not medical advice. Always consult a medical professional before enhancing your mind or consuming any nootropic, like Modafinil. Oh, and read my disclaimer, too.
What is Focus?
Before we get into a few specific tips and tricks, let’s talk about what is focus and how you can hack it.
Now, by the dictionary definition, focus is:
A center of activity, attraction, or attention. Or a point of concentration (Source).
The definition works, but most people aren’t thinking about centering attraction or activity around a certain thing when thinking about how to focus better.
No, they want to know how to pay attention longer, harder, and how to get more done. What people want to know is how to become more productive.
When talking about focus, you’re talking about improving cognition in order to achieve a goal.
You need to improve your focus because you want to get more stuff done, make more money, get better grades, and eventually, become more successful.
What is focus? To me, focus is the ability to concentrate the mind on a specific task you need to get done.
By focusing on this task, you give yourself the best chance of being successful – however you define success.
11 Tricks to Improve Cognition and Skyrocket Productivity
Enough with the fluff. It’s time to dig into the nitty-gritty. I’m going to give you a few tips and tricks that’ll have your productivity skyrocketing.
Here’s exactly how to improve cognition and enhance your focus:
#1. Find Your Purpose
When how to focus better becomes a priority, you truly only need one thing. A purpose. Something driving you towards success.
You have to actually give a damn. Seriously, I can give you every hack in the book. I can sell you smart drugs and big dreams.
But none of it matters if you don’t give a damn. If you don’t have a purpose, goal, and vision – then it’s damn near impossible to improve your focus and enhance productivity.
Part of being focused comes from motivation. If you’re not motivated to achieve your goals, then it’s unlikely you’ll find the success you’ve dreamed of.
The world just doesn’t work like that. The law of attraction is real. You can literally think things into your reality. You can make it happen by believing.
Once you have your purpose, the motivation comes naturally. How to focus better becomes an afterthought because you become driven to succeed. You’ve found that need to succeed deep inside you.
#2. Write Your Goals Down
How do you find your purpose? How do you clarify exactly what you’re focusing for? That’s easy. Back away from the computer screen, young fella. This might surprise you, but…
You write stuff down.
Point. Blank. Period. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Sit down and start writing. Let the words flow and focus on your goals and aspirations.
You want to clearly define why you want to focus and where the enhanced cognition will lead your life.
See, when you write things down on paper, you physically bring the idea into life. You’re physically writing the idea down on a piece of paper, an object in the physical realm.
This is a powerful mental ploy, not some spiritual B.S. spunk. And I’m not the only one to talk about it. Just look at studies like this one.
Now, once you’ve defined your “Why” by bringing it to life, you don’t stop writing. Heck no!
You keep writing down your goals every single day. Part of being focused is planning and being prepared.
So, what’s one of the easiest ways to stay focused each and every day? Write down what you plan to accomplish the night before.
Just grab a notepad and scribble down the 3-5 biggest things you plan to accomplish the following day. Then put those ideas to the back of your brain and let your subconscious marinate as you sleep.
#3. Drink More Coffee
Coffee is for closers. Coffee is for champions. And yeah, coffee is tailormade to enhance your focus.
I know. It’s a basic biatch type of tip. Nothing groundbreaking here. But seriously, if you’re looking to improve your focus, drinking more coffee will help you do so.
Nearly every single person I’ve met who is crushing their goals every single day, week, month, and year is also aimlessly addicted to coffee.
For example, I’ve got a buddy and we always talk health and wealth. Straight priorities.
The other day I was telling him about my plan to limit caffeine intake to a few cups of coffee a day and my idea to eliminate taking a stimulant-laden pre-workout for the gym.
He paused for a moment before laughing. Then began regaling me about how he upped his caffeine intake to 5-6 cups of coffee every single day during the work week.
Mind you, this guy is one of the most successful mid-20s dudes you’ll meet. He’s flying up the corporate chain and looking to hit “C-Level” before he turns 40.
It got me to thinking. Coffee truly is the nectar of the Gods. If you’re curious about how to focus better, then start brewing a big pot of coffee every morning and downing it each day.
#4. Fasting For the Win
Fasting improves overall brain function when done properly (Source). Not only is it highly beneficial for cognition and productivity, but it’s not that tough to do, either.
Intermittent fasting was tailormade for people who want to improve their focus and get more stuff done. Seriously, it’s so easy to do, yet so effective.
Just skip breakfast and push lunch back a few hours. That’s all you have to do. Drink your coffee black and gulp down eight ounces of water whenever you start to feel a little hungry.
I try to eat my first meal around 18 hours after I began the fast. So, if I finished dinner around 8 pm the day earlier, then I’ll break the fast around 2 pm the following day.
My output seems to increase by at least 20% once I’m 12+ hours into a fast, which is basically the majority of my workday.
My focus feels enhanced and my mind on overdrive by the time I’ve drunk my first cup of black coffee for the day.
But enough with the hype. Skip breakfast tomorrow and drink a couple cups of black coffee. Then report back here. I’m confident you’ll feel more focused.
#5. Become Mindful with Modafinil
Let’s not beat around the bush, some of you are looking for a hack. You want the secret sauce CEOs use to get an advantage over their opponents
. Like Bugs Bunny in Space Jam, you need the secret stuff:
Trust me, I’ve been there and done that. I searched high and low for a simple way to get an advantage. Luckily, I found the secret stuff that all entrepreneurs, grad students, and digital nomads need.
Originally developed as a pharmaceutical drug to treat narcolepsy (Source), Modafinil has become the world’s most popular smart drugs.
High-achievers from around the world are popping Modafinil on a daily basis to work 12+ hours a day with enhanced focus and increased cognition. Hell, Modafinil even increases memory and retention.
If you could package a pill that guaranteed improved focus, Modafinil would be it.
How to focus better? Buy Modafinil online and take 200 mg 1-3 days each week. Just make sure you take it in the morning!
#6. Get the Blood Flowing
It’s time to go all bro science here. Exercise is an impressive cognitive enhanced and one of the easiest way to increase focus and productivity.
But it’s not actually bro science at all. Exercise is amazing for the brain. Well, at least that’s what Havard Medical School claims:
Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factorschemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment (Source).
If you’re looking to improve focus and cognition, try waking the body and brain up with a little morning cardio.
The goal isn’t to exhaust the muscles, but to get the blood flowing and wake up the mind.
Shoot for 20 minutes of light cardio each morning if you’re looking to hit optimum levels of focus.
#7. Find Your Rhythm
As people, we’re all the same, but we’re also different. Some of us are more productive in the morning times, while others work best at night.
If you’re a night owl and more productive in the evenings, it’s imperative to build a lifestyle and schedule that works for you.
Schedule your study hours or creative tasks in the evening. Plan to down coffee until wee hours of the morning when focus and enhanced cognition are desired and required.
For most of us, including me, our bodies are in-sync with the sun and our circadian rhythms ensure we’re more focused and productive in the mornings.
This means getting out of bed before noon and starting the day off as early as possible.
Personally, I’ve found I get way more done between 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. I know I can crank out work during those hours, especially if I’m downing black coffee and fasting.
As such, I schedule my toughest tasks for the day during these hours. Anything I need to do that requires high levels of focus is handled during these times.
I know my rhythm. I understand this is where I’ll get the bulk of my work done.
Your goal? Find the rhythm that works best for you.
#8. Getting “High” With Music
Again, this might sound all new age and hippy, but hear me out. Music plays a role in how we feel and think. The music you listen to affects your mood and emotions (Source).
Your mood and emotions are directly correlated with how focused and productive you are. Thus, the music you listen to plays a role in how focused you are. Luckily, you can hack this fact and use it to your advantage.
I call it getting high on music.
You start by finding a song that gives you great energy and positivity. You want something that has a fast beat. Slow and mellow is cool, but you want to enhance the mind – not put it to sleep.
I tend to look through the Trap Nation Channel on YouTube to find my song of choice for the day.
Then I use a YouTube converter/downloader to turn the song into a file on my computer and upload it to iTunes. This process takes about 3-5 minutes.
Once it’s in iTunes, I put it on repeat and let the music flow. The same song. All damn day.
At first, you might hate it. You’d think you’ll get bored of the same song, but after 30 minutes or so, the mind becomes entranced by it.
The beats bring you closer and closer to a flow state. Your focus skyrockets and productivity goes through the roof.
If how to focus better is on your mind, this is one hack you must test out!
#9. All Hail the Pomodoro Technique
Sometimes we have to do stuff we just aren’t excited about. Even if you have a purpose and you’ve set goals, not every part of the process will be fun.
Maybe you hate invoicing. You could have a technical writing project to get done. Hell, maybe you have to put together your expense report for the quarter – off the clock.
Whatever it is, we sometimes need to stay focused on mundane tasks. In times like these, the Pomodoro Technique reigns supreme.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
Well, that’s easy. The Pomodoro Technique works like this. You work hard for 25 straight minutes without any interruptions – smartphones, phone calls, mindlessly web surfing, etc.
In the 25 minutes, you’re 100% on the task at hand – no matter how mindlessly it is or how much you want to avoid doing it.
Once the 25 minutes is up, you take a quick five-minute break to recharge, go to the bathroom, and check your phone. Then you do another 25-minute session with complete focus.
A timer like this one rings after each period is over. You set it to start the clock each round.
Now, there’s a little more to the Pomodoro Technique. You can learn more about it here.
What you need to know right now is that it works. Every single one of us has the ability to intensely focus in 25-minute blocks.
If you’re struggling to complete one specific task, give the Pomodoro Technique a try. If it doesn’t work, outsource the job and move on.
#10. Hack Your Sleep
I’m not going to claim to be an expert on this one. But the National Sleep Foundation is and here’s what they have to say about sleep and cognitive function:
When you lose sleep, its harder to focus and pay attention. This affects school performance and job productivity.
Sleep feeds creativity, synthesizes new ideas, and leads you to ah ha moments. Research shows that we need good sleep to feed our high-level, innovative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
As you sleep, memories are reactivated, connections between brain cells are strengthened, and the information is transferred from short to long-term. Without enough quality sleep, we can become more forgetful. Studies suggest that sleeping shortly after we learn new information helps us retain and recall that information later (Source).
Put simply, the better you sleep the easier it is to focus.
I don’t know about you, but I notice a direct correlation between how focused I am during the day and how good a nights’ sleep I got.
I have no doubts. High-quality sleep equals a focused, productive mind.
Luckily, I’ve found a way to hack my sleep. I’ve tried all the pills out there. Natural, pharmaceutical, and more. Some worked for a short time, but nothing lasted forever.
Then I found tart cherry juice concentrate.
Tart cherry juice concentrate is truly the best way to improve sleep quality. Imagine adding 90 extra minutes of quality sleep to your night – every single night!
That’s what tart cherry juice concentrate offers. And it’s not just me saying it. It’s been proven in numerous studies, including this one.
#11. Walk Away From It
When all else fails, step away from the computer screen, textbook, or whatever. Take some time to let your mind unwind and relax.
Hell, we’re just human beings. You are not a machine. You cannot stay focused forever. A.I. hasn’t taken over yet.
Sometimes it’s not about how to focus better, it’s about letting your mind take a break and getting some rest.
Seriously, sometimes you just need to relax and unwind. Take a few hours or even a few days away. The problem will still be there to solve when you get back.
How to Focus Better: Your Go-To Guide
Whew! That was a little much, but my goal was to create a comprehensive guide for those looking to improve cognition, enhance productivity, and hack the mind.
I wanted to show you exactly how to focus better and get shit done.
I hope this article does just that. If not, sound off in the comments and tell me how much of a moron you think I am. Lay into me! I’ve got thick skin. I can take it.