Performance Habit #26 - 100 Breaths

The limit of total attention is 90 minutes, but most people don't even get close to this - we find it hard to get past 90 seconds! Through our 'always on' 21st century lifestyle, we've lost the ability to do this very well - we get distracted easily, we constantly try to multitask; in fact about 28% of our day is taken up with interruptions.

However, there's good news. We can build our capacity to focus for intense periods. There are two ways to do this: 1) by constantly practicing, holding ourselves accountable and no getting distracted. This is hard. Or 2) one of the other ways that we can build our capacity for sustained attention is through meditation.

If you're like me, you have no interest in practicing traditional meditation, but meditation has been described as 'push ups for the brain'. It builds the 'strength' of our ability to focus and our performance is almost solely dependent on our ability to focus our attention on the right things at the right time.

100 breaths meditation is a quick and practical way to build focus.

Find a comfortable position (you can close your eyes or open them - it doesn't matter) and then start counting your breathes backward from 100 to zero. You'll get intruding thoughts as you do this, but simply acknowledge them, put them to the side and get back to your counting. You'll find that as you practice, you'll get better at shutting out distractions.

The bonus is that this simple 15 min exercise is one of the best ways to also decrease the stress response and will help you get to sleep at night, if your mind be hyper-active.