Tips for Channeling Hyperfocus

Penn here! I’m guest blogging on Kim’s Mental Health Focus Month with a way to help you achieve more productivity with (you guessed it) my ADHD superpower! Enter hyperfocus. ADHD can be a hindrance for a lot of people, but I’ve chosen not to view it that way. 

In this week’s podcast, I give my best tips on how to achieve hyperfocus, aka concentration nirvana. Hyperfocus means you can tune out everything around you, completely freeze time and space (well, in your mind) and focus on one single task. (Sounds pretty great, right?)

For me to to hyperfocus on something it has to include at least one of these three things: 

  1. It’s new or exciting, something I’ve never tried before. 
  2. It’s challenging or difficult. 
  3. It’s of personal interest or benefits me. 

Even if you only have 1-2 of these for your task, you’re already on the right path. Here is your checklist to get into a hyper focus state: 

#1 Keep Things Cool (Literally and Figuratively)

I find it very hard to hyperfocus in a room that is warmer than 72 degrees. I find my mind wandering to the sweat on my brow or needing more water, instead of focusing my time and energy on the task at hand. I also make sure I have a calm environment. This means addressing anything out of the ordinary. That fly buzzing around the room? Swat it or set it free. Something clicking in the dryer down the hall? Pause it for now. 

#2 Remove All Distractions… and Food

When I really need to buckle down, I turn off my computer notifications and I purposely put my phone across the room or leave it somewhere else all together. Phones will take you out of the zone… so will food. Chances are you’ll be ok without either for the time you’re channeling your focus. 

#3 Address Any Frustrations

Sometimes when I try to go work on something that requires hyperfocus (writing/editing) there are days when it’s just not happening. This is when I try a breathing reset. I inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. I repeat it as many times as I need to feel better. I also say out loud what the problem is, even if I’m the only one there. Naming the issue is half the battle.

#4 Practice Your Hyperfocus 

Sometimes you’re doing all the steps above (and what you’re working on falls into one of three criteria I first mentioned) but you can’t get into the zone. This is when you can introduce some low-stakes practice at channeling your hyperfocus. Every night before bed, I do a puzzle that challenges my brain. Currently I am addicted to Duotrigordle, which is 32 Wordles on one board.Doing these puzzles allows me to practice discipline to be thorough when I am in hyperfocus and shut everything else in my brain off. 

#5 Involve Your Loved Ones!

First off, let them know what you are doing.  If you are headed into an important work session, tell them that you are off to Hyperfocus Land. (If they don’t know what you are talking about, show them this article, they will love it.) Second, feel free to tell them, this may be something that could help them! ADHD is a spectrum neurodiversity, which means that everyone has at least just a little of it. There’s a good chance this checklist can help just about everyone’s productivity.

When you finally achieve hyperfocus, it feels like time is standing still. There are so many times I go to work on something I am passionate about and that is challenging and hours go by. I forget what time it is, or I forget to have lunch, but I achieved being in the zone. 

Want to hear more about how to hyperfocus? (Bonus: You get to hear Kim and I have a full circle moment in real-time.) Tune into our podcast below!