Hyperfocus — book summary

Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey and The Leading Brain — my next read

Highlight when you read a book and take notes inside it.

Switching off autopilot mode

Attentional Space

The limit of our attention

Turn all of your notifications off while working.

Do one thing at the time

Hyperfocus—getting into the zone

Hyperfocus occupy the entire attentional space

How to Hyperfocus?

  • Chose a meaningful object of attention. 3 goals a day is a good balance.
  • Eliminate distractions. Write down a list of what distracts you. And remove them when you want to get into the zone. Turn ALL notifications off.
  • Focus with intention. Intention makes you actively focused and let you go back focusing when you lose the focus. Working on something that you don’t like, will keep you back.
  • Draw your focus back. You get distracted more than you think. Thoughts come continuously to you. You have to actively bring back your focus.
  • Relax, eat healthy, sleep, clear your mind from worries. Healthy life makes you happier, smarter and more focused.
  • Take breaks. Our attention reduces with time. Taking break recharges it.
  • Meditate! Meditation expands your attentional space. It relaxes you and it trains you to stay focused on a single task.
The limit of our attentional space
  • Start feeling out how long to hyperfocus.
  • Anticipate obstacle ahead of time. Knowing that you’ll have to solve something, can prepare you to work on it. Getting ready before starting a task, often takes longer than the task. Sometimes I spend 20 minutes before doing the bed on distraction and 2 minutes to do the bed.
  • Set a timer. Take 5 minutes time break every 15 and 15 after 45.
  • Be specific. Our brain is more likely to start a task and to be successful at it when knows the location, the time, and the specifics of a task.

Reduce distractions

  • When out, do a phone swap with your friend. Weird, yeah, but if you had a way to count how many times you pick your phone, you’d understand how much time you’re wasting!
  • Put your phone in airplane mode when you’re working.
  • Put your laptop in “No Distraction”.
  • Remove unnecessary apps from your phone. Emails for example. Bonus: use the 5 min email rule. Each email should never take longer than 5 minutes. If it does, schedule a phone call.
  • Make a distraction list, so you know what triggers you.

What makes you distracted

  • Stress and thoughts. Fear is the enemy of the brain. Update Jul 2020: the pandemic made this the norm. If you feel emotionally exhausted, just know you’re not the only one!
  • Boredom, you search for alternative things to do.
  • Frantic environment.
  • Questioning “Is this what should I be working on?”. Not have set an intention.

Scatterfocus—creative mode on steroids

The three style of scatterfocus

  • Capture mode: let your mind roam freely and capturing whatever comes up.
  • Problem-crunching mode: hold a problem loosely in mind and letting your thoughts wander around it. You want to use this mode, when you’ve some difficult decision to take, such as a relationship, leaving/accepting a job.
  • Habitual mode: engaging in a simple task and capturing valuable ideas and plans that rise to the surface while doing it. Research has found this model is the most powerful. Basically do what you like to do and get ideas as they come.

Recharging your attention

Connecting the dots

  1. Put yourself in a creative environment. That reduces your focus and increases your scatterfocus.
  2. Write out your problems. Writing crystalize your ideas makes you discover a few dark corners.
  3. Sleep on a problem. My girlfriend is a working actress, she practices screenplay right before going to sleep. The next day she remembers them word by word.
  4. Step back. Imagine a small hill with sand. Pour water at the top and you’ll the water forming random paths, rivers. When you stop pouring water and let it dry. Then pour again, the water will form new random paths. Step back and let your brain find alternative ideas.
  5. Intentionally leave tasks unfinished. If you’re working on something creative, that’s a good way to keep it going in your mind.
  6. Consume more valuable dots. Read, learn, talk with people.

“Collecting” the dots

How to collect more dots

  1. Consume things you care about.
  2. Eliminate some of the trash. The good trash that makes you laugh and connect with friends, is good to keep it updated. If reading about the Kardashians makes you happy, go for it.
  3. Choose a few valuable things to add.
  4. Notice what you consume on autopilot mode.
  5. Veg out… intentionally. When you decide to watch an entire season of Genius, do it with intention and plan for it, that will help you not feeling guilty.
  6. Reevaluate what you’re consuming as you’re consuming it.
  7. Get things to bid your attention. Decide what deserve your attention.
  8. In the moment, zoom out. Observe what you’re doing from far. If you feel like, you’re wasting time, maybe you are. Understanding the effect of your actions nudge you to consume more valuable information.
  9. Invest in serendipity. Wikipedia, Reddit AMA, going on meetups. I personally decided to work as a bike messenger for a month. That helped me made friends on the way and opened up a few interesting discussions.
  10. Double down on what’s valuable. Hang out with people that share your passion and make you grow. Consume more information that is valuable.

Working Together

  • Blend “hyperfocus” and “scatterfocus”.
  • Invest in your own happiness. A positive mood expands the size of your attentional space. Regardless of which mode you’re in.
  • Work around your energy levels.
  • Drink alcohol and caffeine strategically. Alcohol can help you be more creative and caffeine more focused, in the right dosage! Weed and drugs may help, but I’m not a fan. I do take relaxing pills before important meetings or during stressful situations: Theanine Serene, they’re out of the counter and all natural.





I grow startups and I connect people. I used to play with Lego, now I play with Kubernetes and Bitcoin.

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Federico Ulfo

Federico Ulfo

I grow startups and I connect people. I used to play with Lego, now I play with Kubernetes and Bitcoin.

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