What Is Focus and Why Does Every Student Need It?

What Is Focus and Why Does Every Student Need It?

In my own words, I understand it this way, based on the learned model of the School of Medicine: the focus is a person’s skill at the right moment in time to take purposeful action. Purposeful is the action that will come as close as possible to solving some pain (dissatisfaction), one’s own or others’, at a particular moment in time. For example, going to swimming practice instead of playing on the computer: the pool will also provide a flowing experience, but it will also help to get rid of back pain.

Hmm, what does focus consist of, what practices? Different models can be cited, but the model around “willpower” comes in handy for us in the context of the post:

  1. Practices of realizing “willpower” at the moment. Willpower will allow directing the flow of neurons in the right direction right at the moment, not giving in to impulses. For example, if you see a sweet-tart, your mouth is watering, but you want to lose weight, then you force yourself to turn away and eat the banana. Or you want to sleep, are tired, but still, need to do homework to get pumped up.
  2. Practices of minimizing the necessary willpower in the moments. Some studies say that the will is an extremely limited resource, so for a stable self-development-marathon, it should be used carefully. For example, the situation where you can use economics homework help, go to sleep and give your organism what it wants. Or another example: from item 1 can in principle be prevented by hiding a cake in a non-transparent container somewhere in the corner of the fridge beforehand and putting the banana right in plain sight (Google did it, it works). Practices of “setting the target environment” (so that the target action is easier to do than the harmful one), as well as practices on the role of the manager: task management and time management will help here.
  3. Practices of coaching and recharging “willpower.” Studies also say that the resource of willpower is exhaustible, and therefore it is necessary to monitor its balance and restore it in time. And in principle, the “batteries of the body” should be recharged, so that there is no need to force yourself to do something in principle. For this purpose, it is necessary to systematically and qualitatively recharge the body, to keep it healthy, as well as the psyche, through regular work with emotions. Agree, it’s easier to give up an extra cake when you feel calm and balanced than when your back hurts, your brain is eaten by anxiety, and there is an acute lack of joy.

This model is tentative, but it shows that there is more work to be done around the effort in the immediate moment, making it easier to act expediently every time.

Why do we need to focus?

All of us want to live better, all of us have some dissatisfactions. Some of them can be solved successfully with a jump, for example, if you are hungry, you cook pasta or go to a cafe. There is no need to force yourself, deep instincts will not let you do otherwise, and the solution is quite obvious. However, several problems cannot be solved from time to time, do you have such? For example, you want to get your body in order, to get high from your look in the mirror; or to learn to sing; or even to learn a new role, to change your job to something more interesting and profitable.

I call projects that require a long and systematic investment of resources “marathons.” For example, to shape your body, you need to go to the gym several times a week for a year or two and work out according to a certain program. And also to eat sensibly, to follow a diet. It’s difficult because of the peculiarities of muscle growth and physiological processes. A new skill, be it singing or interface design, for mastering a high level requires a hundred or two automatisms-skills, which are nicely put together at system levels in those very desirable “singing” and “interface design”. For example, for vocals, you have to learn to control your breathing, get into the resonators, and articulate the words. Problems arise – first of all, a couple of days are not enough in principle to realize everything that needs to be done, and secondly, physiological processes put on the road again.

According to the course Learning How To Learn (which is based on not the most up-to-date, but quite basic research from neurobiology), knowledge and skills at the physiological level are represented by networks of neurons. That is, naturally, to learn something new, you have to grow cells and the connections between them! Infant neurons are weak at birth, and to strengthen them it is not enough to repeat something on the same day, according to research you need interval repetition, the very systematic investment of resources over a long period. If everything is done correctly, the connections will become stronger and the signal will run quickly so that to solve the learned level of problems you will act “on automatic,” with a minimum expenditure of energy. As long as you are not “on automatic”, you will have to consciously control the process, which is extremely time-consuming and will not allow you to master more complex skills. Also, if you don’t pay enough attention to repetition, then one day in your sleep your brain processes may well consider the knowledge and skills no longer needed and delete them so that they don’t take up unnecessary space.

So we get that the two main directions of human pumping, the development of the body of mind, due to physiological features require systematic training for a long period. And along with the fact that mankind is getting more complicated from day to day in terms of the average skill level of specialists, the bar to reach is also growing, i.e. the amount of knowledge and skills that need to be raised in oneself. All in all, it may take from several months to several years of conscious and systematic training to achieve the most significant life changes! There is no other way, there is no other way, mankind is not able to load skills into the brain like in Matrix yet πŸ™

So, do you feel HOW important it is to have a high mastery of concentration? Most of life’s most precious and desirable changes require this key to enter your life. Or rather, to enter long and systematically, gradually πŸ™‚

What are the main challenges, the problems of focus?

The main problem is the key universal problem of planning: the discrepancy between our models of the world and reality. I proceed from the fact that man comes into the world tabula rasa, so all he knows about the world is the connections in his brain, and it is based on this received knowledge that man assumes future events. Given that the computational power of the brain is limited, and the life experience of any human being is negligible compared to the excessive complexity of the universe, the problem should be obvious.

It will be helpful to categorize the problem:

  • There was not enough time/energy because some events were not accounted for – an old friend came into town unexpectedly, forgot about a visit to the dentist, or a trivial burst pipe. Any number of hours can be spent completely off schedule and you have to be prepared for this. This will always happen, so where you can and valuable – it is worth defending your priorities, but to do this you need to understand them well. For example, for any of the events above, in order not to sacrifice priority personal projects, you can ask for partial time off from work. In general, managerial practices will help minimize the problem.
  • Incorrectly modeled priorities, motivation, and reserve strength – started the course on enthusiasm, and a week later dropped out; bought a season ticket to the gym, and went three times in a month. This is more the area of responsibility of the engineer-pupil, we will consider it in more detail.

The main reason for the failure of the second category is the lack of knowledge about how training works. For example, it is useful to consider the almost guaranteed failure of motivation after the first few weeks of doing a new project, as well as to know what the physiological cause of procrastination is. To effectively protect yourself from such mistakes, it is necessary to master sota practices for each of the three categories of concentration that we highlighted at the beginning of the post; then you must adopt the practices to yourself, leave only the working ones, modify them to suit your unique context.

To summarize

In my opinion, a significant part of the most desirable and meaningful changes in life are associated primarily with the development of oneself: either pumping up the body or mastering a new, more complex skill. Alas, such goals can only be achieved through a systematic investment of effort over long periods (months, years). By default, there is no understanding of how to “own oneself”, to act systematically and regularly, but there are many obstacles in the way. The only way out is to take ourselves in hand and master the best achievements of humankind in the field of self-mastery, to adapt them to our context, and not just once, but to do it all our lives, iteratively, as needed.

This post is a true example of an achievement that would not be possible without basic assemblage. I wrote it for a week, investing 25 minutes every day. I’ve never done experiments like this, for like most I’m used to wanting results here and now. It turns out that you can expand the horizon of expectation of the result and be satisfied with the intermediate progress, even if in some of the sessions it is vague, incomprehensible. The trick from the LHTL course worked – it is much easier to decide to do something if you set a goal to invest time, say, “I will work for only 25 minutes,” instead of “I need to do the post,” for this is guaranteed to trigger procrastination.

I hope you were able to learn something valuable for yourself! Next, I will describe my history of being collected, how I failed systematically and how I succeeded. After that, I’ll finally set some focus goals and begin the second project along the way – mastering Kelly McGonigal’s scholarly work, The Power of Will. I hope that we will cross thoughts in the future, but for now, I wish you good luck on your way and enjoy life.