Hyperfocus Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Hyperfocus teaches you how to become more efficient and improve your concentration by deciding on one thing to work on, focusing only on that task, and redirecting your attention back to it whenever your mind wanders.

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Hyperfocus Summary

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Do you remember life before the internet? I was six years old when the world went online, so I don’t recall much about life without it. What I do remember was a time when it was a lot easier to focus on the task at hand.

With devices in our hands at all times and thousands of notifications, our ability to concentrate is, naturally, at its limits. Every now and then, however, you might find yourself in flow, ignoring distractions and letting time fly by while just focusing on work. What if these rare times of intense concentration could become your new normal?

Well, they can… if you master what Chris Bailey calls hyperfocus. His book Hyperfocus: How to Work Less to Achieve More will show you how to make it happen.

Here are just 3 of the many ideas in it that have helped me concentrate better:

  1. Hyperfocus is incredibly enjoyable, and there are four stages of it that you need to master.
  2. Become more intentional about what’s in your attentional space by regularly checking in with yourself.
  3. Eliminate distractions before you need to work, and it will be easier to focus.

Ready to finally learn how to just sit down and get some work done? Let’s get learning!

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Lesson 1: Master the four stages of Hyperfocus to reap its many benefits.

The four stages of Hyperfocus are:

  1. Pick something you want to focus on.
  2. Eliminate all distractions.
  3. Focus your attention on that task alone.
  4. Redirect your mind every time it wanders.

Think about the last time you were able to exert incredible levels of concentration, and you’ll recognize all of these steps were present. It was as if time stopped and there was nothing but you and your work. And it was fun, right?

It feels great to get into moments like this, and the added productivity even helps you make more money! But how can you master each of these stages to get into Hyperfocus more frequently? Let’s look at each individually to see how it’s done.

First, choose just one thing to focus on and no more than one. We’ve got a whole summary on the book The Myth of Multitasking, which will teach you why just planning to do one thing at a time is the only way to work.

Step two is to get rid of all distractions before they come up. If you struggle to open social media too often, limit your online activity with the Stayfocusd Chrome extension. Or even better, delete your social media accounts. Here are  10 reasons you should consider doing that.

Third, focus only on the task that you’ve chosen during the time that you’re working. It might take practice, but you can use the Pomodoro Technique to help.

And finally, as you’re working, bring your attention back to your task whenever it wanders.

Lesson 2: Regularly check in with yourself to become more intentional about what’s in your attentional space.

If you’re anything like me, it’s tough to redirect your attention, let alone recognize it’s off-course! It doesn’t help that your mind takes in roughly eleven million pieces of information each second. But that’s not the limit of your attention span. 

You can really only process about 40 things at once, and we still haven’t even talked about how much you can remember! When it comes down to it, your short-term memory is only good for about seven items.

It helps to consider your ability to concentrate in terms of an attentional space. It’s like a small cup, with only a few things being able to fill it at one time. For instance, if you’re in a meeting, you might keep thoughts of lunch in it rather than the presentation your boss is giving. 

It’s easy to get lost in thoughts like this, but this is where meta-awareness comes in handy. This is when you look outside of your thoughts and become aware of what’s in your attentional space.

Whenever you need to focus, just practice using meta-awareness every so often to keep yourself on track. Set a timer each hour and when it goes off, think about what’s in your attentional space.

Lesson 3: It will be easier for you to focus if you remove distractions before you begin working.

Have you ever been excited because you’re about to get into a productive state only to get derailed by a phone call or email? This can be really discouraging, and unfortunately, it ends up being the norm a lot of the time.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can get rid of distractions beforehand; you just need to intentionally identify and block them. And although some interruptions you can’t ignore, there are ways to prepare so you can Hyperfocus more often.

To identify the areas you might be at risk for distraction, look at your environment and how you spend your time. What do you most often find yourself turning to when you should be working? Get rid of those first.

These days, however, it’s not usually our physical environment that’s the problem, but the digital one that gets us off track. For instance, I use StayFocusd to block distracting websites, as I mentioned before. 

I’ve also heard of people going to such great lengths as to get an old computer, remove the wifi chip from it, and go to a place without wifi. Sometimes, though, it’s effective to simply leave your phone in another room.

There are many situations where you can’t completely go silent to the rest of the world, though. You might need to stay in touch with coworkers or your family. In those situations, set aside times when you’ll check your phone, maybe every hour or so, and don’t touch it in between those set times.

Hyperfocus Review

I bought a copy of Hyperfocus a couple of years ago, and it’s been one of my favorite go-to books on productivity ever since. Honestly, the Blinkist summary doesn’t do it justice. You’ve got to pick up the actual book and give it a read! It’s a highly underrated book in its category, and I wish more people knew about it.

Who would I recommend the Hyperfocus summary to?

The 20-year-old college student who doesn’t understand why they can’t just sit down and study, the 48-year-old manager who feels crippled by distractions, and anyone who wants to improve their concentration.

Last Updated on July 11, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.