by | Sep 6, 2020 | Review

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Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction” by Chris Bailey

Kerry’s Book Review

“I need to read this book…immediately,” I thought to myself as I skimmed the intro. It was mid-May and in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown. It was clear I would be working from home for the foreseeable future. Struggling to stay focused and productive, I knew what I was doing wasn’t sustainable. I needed to hyperfocus! Leading two companies while managing my 7-year-old son’s schooling…and stressing about what COVID-19 was doing to the nation’s health care system, the economy, and the mental health of the people I care most about…was overwhelming. I found myself staring at my computer trying to do five things at once, rushing through them so I could be done in time to make Jack lunch, and then get to the next five things on my list. I knew this book had to be some tips and tricks that would help me get back on track. So I downloaded it and dove in…while riding my mountain bike…the exact opposite of what the author recommends…but hey, I don’t have time to exercise and read 40 books each year (my annual goal) so sometimes I have to do them together. Thank you Audible.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s broken into two sections, the first on hyperfocus and the second on scatterfocus. More on each below…

What is hyperfocus? It’s when you give all your attention to the task at hand. It’s also called being in the flow. While there wasn’t anything earth-shattering in the hyperfocus section, I did appreciate several tips, the first being to keep your cell phone in the other room when you are trying to get important work done. Our brains tend to get uncomfortable when we have to do hard things so it’s easy to allow ourselves to be distracted. I find this to be true when I write…it takes me a while to warm up and I find myself checking my email and looking at headlines when the words don’t come easily. I also took his advice and turned off all notifications on my phone and computer and I found this to be immediately helpful.

Other key tips include:

  • be intentional about what you want to focus on and why
  • identify the 4 types of work (purposeful, necessary, distracting, unnecessary) and make sure you do your most important, purposeful work first
  • ensure you understand what will distract you and then remove these distractions
  • only work in hyperfocus for short blocks of time (no more than 90 minutes); take refresher breaks
  • strengthen your ability to focus by meditating daily and/or periodically being mindful in the moment

The second section on scatterfocus was more helpful. Being a type-A driver, I feel compelled to always do something of value and letting my mind wander is pretty low on my “this is something valuable to do” list. Not anymore! Now, I only listen to audiobooks for half the duration of a mountain bike ride. The other half I let my mind wander (aka scatterfocus).

What is scatterfocus? It’s time during which you intentionally let your mind wander, allowing it to work on problems, be creative, or brainstorm ideas. Why is it important? Our best ideas rarely come while sitting in front of our computers; instead, we have our best ideas when we are in nature, exercising, washing our hair, or brushing our teeth. Scatterfocus also allows you to hit the reset button to replenish your mental energy as well as ponder, plan and set goals.

I recommend this book. It’s filled with good ideas, is easy to follow, and if you only implement one or two of Chris’ tactics, you’ll improve your focus.

Editorial Reviews

“The best productivity plans call for strategy, not just hacks or tactics—and Hyperfocus gives you strategy in spades. When you read this book, get ready to do your most important work!” – Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, The Art of Non-Conformity, and The Happiness of Pursuit

“Becoming more productive isn’t about time management; it’s about attention management. I’d tell you more about that, but I lost my train of thought. Luckily this attention-grabbing book is here to help. Chris Bailey offers actionable, data-driven insights for sharpening your focus—and finding the right moments to blur it.”
-Adam Grant, author of Originals, Give and Take, and Option B

Thanks for reading this…now go read more books! 👁📚🧠

Like this? Check out my blog on how to become less distracted.

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