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12 Strategies for Storytellers to Achieve Deep Focus (and Boost Productivity)

12 Strategies for Storytellers to Achieve Deep Focus (and Boost Productivity)

Unleashing the wealth of stories within you demands a mastery of deep focus, a skill increasingly rare in our distraction-saturated world. How can you cultivate a focus so sharp it transforms mere ideas into transformative works of art?

The simple (but not necessarily easy) strategies outlined below are designed to vanquish distractions, fine-tune your mental and physical capabilities, and forge an environment where your focus can thrive, propelling your storytelling to new heights.

Eliminating Distractions: Creating a Sanctuary for Your Mind

Distraction is an insidious force snatching attention away from your story, fragmenting your thoughts and diluting your creativity. Deep focus requires an environment conducive to concentration. So mute the incessant beeps and buzzes of your gadgets to preserve the sanctity of your creative zone. Nagging thoughts, undone tasks, and mental clutter can all distract you. 

And a clear mind is a creative mind, so take a few minutes each evening to outline your tasks for the next day before bed. Preparation and forethought will boost your productivity while clearing space in your mind so you can greet your writing time with focus. 

I can’t get always get this done before dinner, and reject the idea of going into my office before bedtime, but at the very least I will mentally arrange my intentions for the next morning to earn nocturnal peace of mind. 

Setting the Stage for Focus: Priming Your Mind for Deep Work

Engage in activities that prime your mind for concentration. I love to go for a walk, because the movement boosts blood circulation and increases oxygen flow to my brain, enhancing cognitive function while clearing my mind, so I can approach the work with fresh eyes and a sharpened focus.

Look at your schedule and identify hours when you’re at your mental peak. Consider the time as sacred, a non-negotiable appointment with your creativity. Consistency is key here. 

By regularly dedicating specific hours to deep work, you train your mind to associate that time with intense focus. Habit forms focus, and focus fuels your best work. 

For me, this deep work block comes during my Maker Time, after my morning walk with Cindy, all the way until lunch time. 

Optimal Nutrition and Hydration: Fueling Your Focus

Your ability to focus is a matter of mental discipline, deeply connected to your physical well-being. What you put into your body has a direct impact on cognitive performance. Ensure your diet is rich in brain-boosting nutrients to achieve optimum focus. 

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, improve brain function and memory. Antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, and dark chocolate help protect brain cells from oxidative stress.

Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can impair your concentration and cognitive performance. Water is the oil keeping your mental engine running smoothly. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during your deep work sessions. Keep a bottle at your desk, and make a habit of sipping. Your brain will thank you, and your focus will reflect it.

I’m lucky. Cindy is an amazing and health conscious cook. She feeds me what my mind and body need every single day. And unlike Dave, who drowns himself in a case of Diet Coke per day, water is my favorite drink. 

Leveraging Movement and Rest: Recharging Your Mental Batteries

It might seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to sustain deep focus is by strategically disengaging from your work. Taking breaks to move your body and rest your mind is essential for maintaining peak cognitive performance. 

Whether it’s a quick jog, some yoga on the floor, or a series of bodyweight exercises, physical activity will release endorphins, increase alertness, and enhance mental agility so you can enter your writing time with a clearer mind and a more energized focus.

Sleep is even more important than movement. A rested brain is better equipped to handle the demands of deep work. A good night’s sleep is the ultimate recharge for your mental batteries, because that’s when your brain consolidates memories, processes information, and rejuvenates itself. 

I move between blocks of work (yoga and at least two walks per day, plus intermittent minutes on the trampoline) and take a rest every day after lunch.

Productivity Techniques and Accountability: Structuring Your Focus

Consider the structure of your focused sessions. An adapted Pomodoro is my go-to. The standard asks for focused 25-minute intervals, followed by a 5-minute break, with a longer break of 15-30 minutes after four of these cycles. I prefer half an hour with a 5-minute break until lunch (usually six full Pomodoros). 

This structure helps maintain high levels of concentration by giving your mind regular chances to reset and recharge, working in harmony with your natural attention span instead of against it.

Simple accountability is another great way to get dramatic results. Share your goals with someone else — a writing partner, mentor, friend, or even in a public post — and you add a layer of motivation. Knowing that someone else is invested in your progress can be a strong incentive to follow through, because you’ve turned your intentions into a commitment. 

Consider finding an accountability partner, someone with whom you can regularly check in, share targets, and celebrate progress. Knowing that someone is in your corner, cheering you on and holding you accountable, can make all the difference. 

This is another easy one for me, or at least straightforward, seeing as ninety-percent of my work is collaborative. And even with solo projects like these Campfire missives, I have people on my team.  

Single-Tasking and Clear Goals: The Power of Undivided Attention

Multitasking will murder your productivity, bury the body, and swear on a tall stack of Bibles that it was an alibi and not an accomplice in your day’s demise. 

Switching between tasks forces your brain to recalibrate, leading to a cognitive cost known as attention residue. Fragmentation of focus dilutes the quality of your work and slows your overall progress. Stop lying to yourself that it’s working and embrace single-tasking. 

Give your full attention to one task at a time and finish it before moving on to the next. By focusing your undivided attention on a single objective, you can fully immerse in the work for a depth of engagement that is impossible with your attention divided.

Set clear and achievable goals. Focus is naturally sharpened when you know what you’re aiming for. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, and make the answer concrete, measurable, and realistic. 

Clear goals, combined with single-minded focus, are the recipe for deep, productive work.

Mastering the Art of Deep Focus

Achieving deep focus as a storyteller is a skill that can be cultivated through intentional practice and the application of specific strategies, even if your brain is as scattered as mine is. 

By eliminating distractions, priming your mind and body, leveraging movement and rest, employing productivity techniques, and embracing single-tasking and clear goals, you can create the conditions for focused, high-quality work.

Embrace these strategies, and watch as your stories start to multiply.