Focus is important because for hard problems useful idleness needs to be accompanied by hard focus to get things done, make decision and solve difficult problems. I felt quite unfocussed for a long time, and now feel as if I had become much more focussed after quitting to smoke.
But, the problem is that it is hard to measure focus. What to do? My attempt is to do it like they do it in statistics - instead of confirming the hypothesis, reject the negation of it.
Personally, the biggest killer of focus is my mobile phone. Facebook and linkedIn are blocked on my laptop but I manage to spend too much time on twitter/linkedin/newsreading on my mobile phone.
Step 1: Hence, I use an app called "App Usage" that tracks how often you unlock your phone, which apps you and so forth. This information exists on the phone anyway, the operating system know what you are doing - this just highlights it to you.
Step 2: I have removed email from the bottom launcher of my mobile phone.
The theory is that unless one has dedicated time and really wants to simply "opening" the email account just creates stress and has high opportunity costs. Because the time sitting in the bus and reading emails could be spend thinking which is often more valuable than random replies to emails.
Step 3: Probably nearly everybody would agree that keeping a diary and understanding what you do day to day is good. I am very impressed by the people who can actually do it consistently. I can never do it for a variety of reason but not because I think that it is not a good idea.
As with many habits, starting with a tiny version step is much better than not starting. The same goes for this post which definitly has many flaws but is still better than it not existing. So, the tool that I have discover and consistently use is Daylio.
A form of micro-diary that allows you to log your mood, defined activities and something else you want to capture. The basic form, so without editing text takes about 15 seconds to do. If you have set useful things to track, this becomes a good tool at understanding what you actually do.
So far, this is really insightful - if it does not lead to better habits straight away it at least generates the understanding of ones habits.
Here I include phone usage as a proxy for focus but also, as you can see sports, alcohol and writing.
Hope you find this useful.