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The exact steps I take for better focus and concentration

Time flies and I have started my new job for almost one month already.

Truth be told, I cannot control if I get laid off again. However, 我想对得起自己 and maximize opportunities in my life for growth, income, and learning.

The key to doing anything well is commitment. Not half-in. Not dabble. Commit.

While I want to be all in, I want to ensure that I do not sacrifice health. Health is an investment and not an expense.

The same goes for my relationships.

I have many people I love who I have deep meaningful conversations with and lean on each other during hard times. However, this does not come by accident. It is a result of consistent effort to get to know these interesting souls and invest continually.

I see relationships as an investment. I choose people carefully based on values and am intentional about how I show up.

To ensure I have balance, it is key I do more with less time. This means I need to be highly focused.

Here are some things I do to maximize my focus and concentration. Please feel free to adopt them

1. Deleting apps on my phone

I have really few apps on my phone because I delete any app in my phone that I do not use consistently.

I also delete apps I spend way too much time on. For example, I spend a lot of time browsing Reddit and hence I deleted the app as well. This means if I want to use Reddit, I have to do so via Chrome. The experience is not seamless and friction causes me to spend less time there.

As I shared previously, I do not have notifications on my phone for most apps. I also do not have several communication apps including Telegram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Slack.

2. Unfollowing accounts to spend less time scrolling

When we follow many profiles, we find ourselves scrolling a lot mindlessly on Instagram. This includes spending time-consuming content that we do not care about.

I thought hard about what content enriches me emotionally and mentally. Using these principles, I started to declutter my Instagram account, choosing to unfollow some pages.

3. Cutting down on news consumption

The human brain is not meant to absorb information 24 x 7 from around the world. I only follow industry news because it is relevant to my career.

This means I don’t follow CNA; The Straits Times and general news. If something super important has happened, people will share it via WhatsApp groups.

Few things are as important to your quality of life as your choices about how to spend the precious resource of your free time

Winifred Gallagher

4. Setting rules for myself

I will only post on LinkedIn once a week at most. Having engagement and growth is excellent. However, at the end of the day, being a creator is not a career for me.

I create because I enjoy it and want to engage people at scale. So, it does not bother me that much if I fall behind in terms of following or engagement.

Most of my close friends know that I mostly text when I can take my mind off work at the end of the day.

Otherwise, the responses will be quite shallow, and short. Or, my responses will be quite directive.

I am generally the kind of person who does not feel obliged to respond to all messages sent to me.

5. Exercising 3 times per week

Physical activity immediately boosts the brain's dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention.

Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills. It also keeps your energy level high throughout the day.

The importance of our reference group

More than 90% of your success will be determined by your “reference group”, a collection of people who act as a baseline that you use for comparison.

Since Jan 2022, I felt like my personal growth has skyrocketed.

A lot of this is not just due to hard work but also major changes in my reference group.

This change has been incredibly humbling. 一山还比一山高. 🗻

Top of the leaderboard and constantly exceed quota so what? Got other people younger than me running their own successful SaaS companies already

Feel that I am great with media and public speaking? Have I seen how much more natural; insightful and confident these others are on stage?

Think my network is good? Wait till I see the access to the experts and resources that others have.

Due to this change in my reference group, I started to aim higher; embody good values; picked up several healthy habits; earn more, and became aware of ways of viewing the world and investing.

Having seen the benefits, I sat down and define the type of people I want to get to know on a deeper level and to pursue them deliberately.

Here are three things I look for:

  • Strong values: Reliable; 重情重义; compassionate towards others; value health

  • High EQ: Introspective; aware and able to manage emotions in themselves and others

  • Competent: Always looking to improve and learn; overachieve in their selected field. I am intentionally trying to put myself in environments with driven and high-achieving people, in hopes that I too can also learn from them.

Translation: “You are beautiful and talented. You still have time to change a situation if you want to.”

We are only young once 

I was recently thinking about this scene from Yanxi Palace 延禧攻略 on correcting one’s course and seizing opportunities while you are young.

After all, we do not have forever.

This spoke to me. I have been saying no to opportunities in my life out of fear; holding on to the past and not opening myself as much as I should.

However, a lot of these opportunities are fleeting. If we do not seize them in our youth, there are sometimes consequences.

There are many examples of this:

I wasted a lot of time in a company early in my career even when it was not the right place for me. I said no to recruiters who came knocking. This is due to fear that I cannot do as well when I am tasked to sell a different product. If I had left earlier, I believe I would have benefited in terms of career growth and mental health.

Another example I can think of is travel. Many only choose to travel more when they are much older despite having the financial means to do so. However, at an older age, there are a lot of things they cannot do because of their fitness level and mobility. This includes outdoor sports like white water rafting; paragliding or going hiking.

Youth is so fleeting. We do not have forever. We are only young once. Let’s make the most out of it to seize opportunities.