Focus literally means setting your attention on a particular thing, such that your entire energy and awareness is directed on it, without spilling anywhere else. Focus is the underlying formula beneath all the time management skills, productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. When one is focused, there is only the goal and the vision to achieve it. Rest everything goes into blur, which means the limited amount of energy and time that you have will only be spent on that thing which is if prior importance to you as an aspirant.
Focus. Focus. Focus. This is the one word that has to be on the top, of any IAS aspirant’s preparation checklist. It is one of ‘the’ most important qualities of a serious aspirant. As Swami Vivekananda said, “the powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun. When they are concentrated, they illumine.” When focus is sharp it pierces through the thickest of difficulties. Focus is a life skill, which will be a major factor in your success in this examination. Every other aspirant is serious, but not many are pin-point focussed. This is what makes much of the difference!
As UPSC preparation is very different from the kind of study done in schools or colleges. Most of the aspirants fall short in producing this quality in the preparation stage. A major chunk of them have always been the habit of last minute studying. Thus, focus is seen only one day before the exam! But, for this examination, ‘focus everyday’ is a much needed skill that needs to be developed. Only when the mind is completely immersed in the topic that you are reading, you can be most productive.
Developing focus is more like developing a skill. This means that with practice it can be developed. Scientific research about the mind says, “Our mind perfects what it practices the most, be it good or bad”. With the advent of android-smartphone technology, plethora of social-networking sites and ten million other things to distract one from his goal, our mind is in the constant practise of wandering and jumping from present to past or future. And an exam like such can lead one’s mind inevitably into the future uncertainties and risks. Hence, to practise being in the present, taking one day at a time and being ‘focused’ are the exams that one has to pass along with the actual examination.
Certain steps that can be undertaken to develop one’s focus can be:
- Meditation/ Mindfulness: When your awareness is on your breath and your body, your mind is anchored to the present. Gradually, you will start having more control over your thoughts and you will start choosing to stay in the present.
- Journaling: You can maintain a daily-journal and pen down your thoughts, apprehensions etc. at the end of each day. This will enable you to declutter your mind and develop focus on your goals and important things.
- Physical exercises: Any sort of daily physical exercise like running or yoga helps one to dwell in the present as your mind’s awareness remains on your breath and body. Some form of physical activity also helps in developing mental strength and willpower. Increased mental strength will enable you to bring back your focus on your goal when you astray.
These are the some of the ways to build your focus. But, the ultimate way is to stay committed and dedicated to your goal. Look at the bigger picture whenever your monkey mind wanders while studying! Realize that with limited amount of time and energy, you need to carefully choose on what you wish to spend the. The power of focus will not only help you in your preparation but will be stay a friend of life and manifold your productivity and efficiency!
“What you stay focused on will grow.”
― Roy T. Bennett