Select Page

Hyperfocus Versus Scatterfocus: How To Boost Your Productivity

African woman in glasses sitting near computer holding pen writing
 

“Hyperfocus” can be described as an intense fixation on an activity for a long period of time. Generally, many people find it hard to stay focused on a single task. But the ability to pay attention to something for any length of time can enhance our lives. We can get work done faster, learn better and even feel less stressed. 

Here’s a counterintuitive notion for you to consider: Multitasking doesn’t save time. In fact, it actually creates stress. This is because reorienting yourself toward a new task every so often is a drain on your mental energy. Instead, by focusing and finishing one thing at a time, you can get things done faster, feel a sense of accomplishment and avoid stress.

But there is a time and place for letting your thoughts wander, too. That’s where “scatterfocusing” comes in. In this post, I’ll share tips that can help you practically carry out either hyperfocusing or scatterfocusing. Let’s get started. 

How to hyperfocus

How does one hyperfocus? Well, it’s self-explanatory if not easy to follow. Simply set aside time and do nothing except for a specific task, giving it your full attention. For those of us who find this nearly impossible to do, these techniques can help.

Time Blocking: Use a spreadsheet or your journal and create rows and columns for your workdays and the hours you work. Next, create “blocks” for different times during the day. A block can last one hour or three. The more you’d like to work on a task, the more time you can set aside for it. Time blocking is more detailed than a to-do list because you’re creating specific time frames for activities. And you only move forward when you’re done with a block. This way, you can harness your mental energy to focus on a task, but also achieve different things during the day.

• Pomodoro Technique: This technique is great if you have a single task that you do all day, such as writing. Set a timer for 25-minute intervals. Work during this time interval, and when the timer goes off, take a five- to 10-minute break, and then start again.

These tips can help you become more organized in your attempt to focus. You’ll also feel like you’ve accomplished something whenever you’re done with a session, making these techniques very motivating.

How to scatterfocus

The relentless focus on a specific task works well when you have to carry out a planned activity, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for creative work. If you’re trying to write a book, come up with innovative product ideas or build a blog, for example, hyperfocusing hinders rather than helps. 

Instead, you need to allow your mind to explore without wandering into unhelpful territories. Here’s where scatterfocusing comes in. The following techniques will give you enough structure to stay on top of a task, but you’ll still have the ability to come up with new ideas.

• Doodling: Grap a pencil and paper and even add colors into the mix. It’s important to get physically involved in the act of doodling. If you can set up a flipchart in your office space, you can move around and doodle. Start drawing and adding text related to the work you’re trying to accomplish. Connect concepts with arrows and try to showcase every idea in the form of a doodle. As you draw and explore ideas, you may see patterns or a central idea emerge. In this way, doodling harnesses yet frees up your mind to find solutions to problems. 

• Freewriting: This is a technique where you sit down in front of a computer or use your notebook and write without pausing or editing for any reason. You can set a timer or commit to finishing three pages. Usually, the longer you go, the more you’ll see powerful ideas emerge. Freewriting works well because it gets the “junk” thoughts out on paper, and then your mind is forced to dig to get to the really creative stuff. 

These techniques provide a degree of focus that doesn’t prevent you from wandering or exploring ideas, which makes them great for creative work. 

Conclusion

There’s more than one way to drive productivity. And now that we’ve looked at practical ways to either hyperfocus or scatterfocus, you’ll be able to use the right method for the task at hand. Explore loosely focused techniques that will reveal hidden ideas to your conscious mind. Or work with structured support tools to simply get things done. With the tools provided here, you should be able to develop more of your skills in a short time.

To read the full article, click here.