3 Steps to Focus Better

I recently finished reading the new book by Charles Duhigg entitled, Smarter Faster Better. The theme of the book is that all of us can become more productive by following eight principles. I found the book very helpful and in the future I plan to share my thoughts on many of those principles. In today's blog, I'd like to talk about his third principle: focus.

Focus continues to be a big problem for me. Though I've not been medically diagnosed with it, I have no doubt that I have adult ADHD because I find it hard to focus on anything for too long. Even something as simple as reading the Bible is hard for me because my mind starts to drift toward everything I need to accomplish during the day. If you're like me, and have a hard time focusing, here are three steps that might help you focus better.

Forget the Past

Phil 3:13-14 (ESV) says,

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Focus begins by putting the past behind you. For most of us, that involves forgiving other people or even ourselves. If we don't deal with the past and move on from it then we won't be able to focus on what God wants to do through us in the future. That means we must forget both the good and the bad from the past.

Focus on What's Ahead

In Smarter Faster Better, Duhigg talks about a way we can focus on what we expect to happen in our immediate future, something he calls "mental models." He says that making mental models allows our minds to imagine what we might experience in the future and how to respond to it. One example he gives is of a nurse who had a clear mental model of what a healthy baby should look like. When she passed by a crib with a newborn baby that didn't fit the model, she alerted the doctor on the floor and probably saved the child's life.

For pastors, forming mental models helps us to look for areas where we can improve. We train our minds to "strain forward to what lies ahead" (v. 13) by thinking about what we want to see God do in our future. We imagine the endless possibilities of what can happen in Him.

Fight to Win

What do you want to see Jesus do in your life? You have to fight for it. The "press[ing] on" Paul describes in v. 14 involves mental and physical exertion. As a runner lunges forward to win the prize, so we must focus on the end in mind. Our goal is not a win a gold medal but to hear His "well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Question: What is Jesus leading you to focus on today?