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How To Work With The Razor Sharp Focus Of A Zen Monk

Updated on September 25, 2012
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Ruth Barringham is a writer and author who runs a popular website where she helps writers write more and earn more. Subscribe now.

The hardest part of running your own online business is staying focused.

It’s easy sitting down and getting your work done when you have a 9 to 5 job with a boss looking over your shoulder. But it’s a whole other world when you’re working at home on your own with no deadlines and no accountability except to yourself.

Self discipline is easy to say but can be hard to achieve.

So if you’re having trouble with concentrating and getting your work done, then you need to practice having the razor sharp focus of a zen monk.

Can you imagine how great it would be if you could have complete focus on whatever task you were doing and forget about everything else? Just think of how much you could get done and how well you’d do it?

How Do Zen Monks Focus?

Zen monks (and all monks) focus by only ever concentrating on one thing at a time.

If they’re gardening, they’re only focused on the plant in their hand. If they’re walking they are focused on each step as they take it. They never think ahead as to how to garden will look or what they’ll do when they reach their destination. Instead they concentrate on whatever they’re doing in each moment.

How Can You Focus Like a Zen Monk?

Working this way requires forward planning. If you want to achieve the same kind of focus, then you need to plan ahead so that you know what you have to do and when to do it.

You also need to break things down into tasks, not projects.

For instance, creating a website is a project. Finding a hosting company, building a web page, writing content, are all tasks that make up the project.

Planning ahead frees up your mind by removing all the clutter. Clutter is the worrying you do over other tasks you still have to do.

Zen monks not only have clutter-free minds, they also have clutter-free lives. They own very few possessions which frees them up so that they can spend more time on what’s important to them instead of cleaning and maintaining possessions they don’t need.

You can also rid your own life of unnecessary clutter. Sell or donate what you don’t need and you can have more room for living.

Don’t let distractions clutter your attention either. When you’re working, ignore the phone if it rings and don’t check your email all the time. If your phone alerts you to emails and messages all the time, turn it to silent and put in in a drawer in another room.

Keep Your Focus Longer

If you find that your focus starts to wane, take a five minute break. It can be helpful to work in short bursts of 30 to 40 minutes and then have a 5 minute break to go and make a cup of coffee or pat the dog. Just do something unrelated to your work.

Breathe More

When you work hunched over a desk for too long you may find that your breathing becomes shallow.

Zen monks believe in the stress-reducing and focus-inducing power of slow deep breathing.

If you find you’re hunching over your work, sit up with your spine straight and take a few slow deep breathes and it will clear your mind and help you to focus more.

And stay away from excuses - I’m too tired, I’m too stressed, I have writers’ block. These aren’t reasons for not working. They’re only excuses.

Whenever you feel yourself procrastinating, say “No Excuse!” and get back to work.

Take A Leaf

The late, great copywriter, Eugene Schwartz, worked like a zen monk and he earned millions of dollars from his writing.

So take a leaf out of his book (figuratively speaking, not literally) and make sure that when you’re working, you’re working in a ‘zen’ state.

Start simple and don’t overwhelm yourself.

All you need to run a successful online business is a computer, an internet connection and the ability to focus like a zen monk.

And if you’re reading this then you already have the first two.

So’s your focus?


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