10 Top Performers on How to Instantly Focus
For these high performers, one strategy knocks them into full consciousness when it's game time.
Top performers know that the difference between success and failure is often how much focus you unleash right before that big meeting, speech, pitch, or strategy session.
Here are 10 ways to tap into instant focus when you need it, from entrepreneurs who can do it on command.
1. Slow down.
Take a moment to gather your thoughts before important meetings or conversations. Often we think productivity and performance are related to always moving faster. They are, but you have to ensure you’re channeling the velocity in the right direction. For me, it means taking a few minutes to write down my thoughts, identify my priorities and cast away other thoughts so I can focus entirely on the task at hand, particularly before brainstorming and team discussions. —Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, who just doubled her company’s valuation to $345 million
2. Take water to the face.
Go to a sink and splash water on your face—a wake-up splash. It might sound rudimentary, but it’s very effective for getting me focused. It has the added benefit of forcing you to look in the mirror and see if you need to comb your hair or brush your teeth before game time. —Tim Draper, founding partner of DFJ
3. Design the soundtrack of your life.
I have a “motivational” playlist on my iPod that's been growing since I began public speaking on the high school debating team. I think the first song that I added was, "Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. Music can stir your emotions and sharpen your survival instinct in a way that no energy drink or mantra can. Think of it as the soundtrack of your life. What is playing over the moments where you win? Find the soundtrack to your life, and win. — Roberto Orci, Hollywood super producer and screenwriter whose movies and TV shows have grossed over $5 billion worldwide
4. Unleash feel-good hormones.
The one habit I have that gives me more focus and energy is exercise. No matter where I am in the world, I always try to start the day with a 20-minute high-intensity workout. If I have room to move, there is nothing better than putting on running shoes and exploring a new city. Exercise helps me hit the day pumped full of feel-good hormones like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. That, supplemented with a double macchiato. —Josh Black, investor, entrepreneur, and CEO of GroupM Content in Asia; GroupM is an investment group with more than $100 billion in billings
5. Visualize the desired result.
First, I write down my ideal outcome for each case, even when the chances of winning are slim. I over-prepare, utilizing the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College methods. Then I visualize the courtroom, what I’m wearing, and see myself going through the steps of presenting my case, and feel myself enjoying the win. When it comes time to walk into the courtroom, I stop, close my eyes, fast-forward the visualization and feel the win. It works. I’ve gotten cases favorably resolved or even dismissed when the odds were far stacked against my client. —Nafise Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
6. Engineer peak performance.
Peak performance doesn't happen by accident. The reason the New Zealand All Blacks are the most successful sporting team of all time is because of rituals. Before every major meeting or event, I have incorporated a physical anchor to get myself into a peak state. I also have a Spotify PB Mix playlist that gets me in the zone for performance. Hot and cold plunge pools are also a fantastic way to wake up. Whenever possible, I swim in the ocean to start my day. — Calvin Coyles, CEO of Young & Wildly Successful
7. Seclude yourself.
Before I go on stage to speak about marketing and business storytelling, I try to seclude myself, even for two minutes, to take five deep breaths and remind myself to keep the voice low and go slow. I want to crush my first 10 seconds. I conjure James Bond—no one is cooler than Bond. If I need a boost of energy, I avoid the spike and crash of caffeine; instead I do pushups and shadow box. — Maury Rogow, CEO of Rip Media Group
8. Meditate on your ‘why.’
Prior to an important meeting, I use a new feature on my Fitbit called Relax. It’s a guided breathing experience that lowers blood pressure and reduces stress and anxiety. My Fitbit monitors my heart rate in order to identify my optimal rate of deep breathing. I find that if I focus on my startup’s mission statement and the patients for whom we’re finding solutions, it can inspire me to be my best. —Laurence Girard, founder and CEO of Fruit Street
9. Be intensely interested in the other party.
I become sincerely interested in the people I’m interacting with. Being interested in them, focused on what they have to say, and asking them questions, rather than trying to be “interesting” to them has a calming effect and allows me to truly focus on whatever the deliverable is. —Joy Gendusa, founder and CEO of PostcardMania
10. Find your flow.
I use the power of guided visualization, coupled with mindfulness, to bring myself into a state of flow and focus. It must be done with a certain amount of discipline and set intentions: 1. Clear your mind of chatter—like stress and negative background conversation or noise. 2. Settle into your foreground conversation and into the intention of the ideal future you wish to achieve. 3. Increase positive emotion by continually rehearsing the ideal outcome and future you wish to eventually manifest. —Kunal Sood, Founder and CXO of X Fellows, and co-founder of Novus
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