A few years ago I read a book called The Power of Full Engagement. Even though I was disappointed with the book overall, I’ve found my self referring back to one of it’s concepts.
The core concept was that you can maximize your performance by focusing your energy on a task for short periods of time, intermixed with periods of rest. When you focus, your whole self must be immersed in the purpose of the task. And much like exercise, you must have frequent periods of rest in order to recover so that over time your ability to focus becomes stronger.
The power of Focus is what I frequently think about from the book. I agree with it’s importance, but disagree with the frequency that the book says you need rest. The only people I know who break up their work day as much as the book suggests are smokers; albeit that doesn’t exclude them from my next point.
The most successful people that I know have the ability to focus their attention intently on a problem. However, rather than requiring frequent rest, these people have the unique ability to quickly reverse focus and deal with chaos – "the big picture". They have the ability to change gears on a dime in order to deal effectively with the people and the events that surround them.
Successful people divide their time between chaos, focus and rest. They have the ability to always control which state their mind is in. The ability to switch between these states without going insane is what drives their success.
Don’t read the book. Read the summary on Amazon instead. Because after you get past the basic concepts, the rest of the book is trying to sell you on their corporate training program.
Want to learn how to focus? A book on Tibetan Buddhism might be a better read.