The 5 Best Books on Focus for Monk-Like Concentration

It can be difficult to focus on anything these days with the constant barrage of distractions coming at us from all sides.

Whether it’s the never-ending stream of social media notifications, work emails, or just general life stressors, it seems like our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.

But there are ways to combat this issue – one of which includes reading books on the art of attention.

Indeed, there are a variety of titles out there that offer tips, tricks, and advice on how to train your brain to concentrate better.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best books on focus so you can start improving your concentration today.

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The 5 Best Books on Focus

1. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

In his book, Cal Newport argues that the ability to focus without distractions is becoming increasingly rare – and valuable – in today’s economy.

He cites research showing that many workers now spend the majority of their time engaged in shallow work – tasks that are easily interrupted and require little concentration.

As a result, they have less and less time for deep work – the kind of creative thinking that leads to breakthrough ideas.

Newport argues that we need to find ways to carve out time for deep work if we want to stay ahead in today’s economy.

He offers a four-rule framework for doing this: (1) schedule time for deep work, (2) develop routines that help you stay focused, (3) train your attention muscle, and (4) embrace boredom.

By following these rules, we can learn to focus deeply and produce our best work.

“To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction.”

Pros

  • Offers a clear framework for how to focus deeply
  • Provides actionable advice for carving out time for deep work
  • Written by a thought leader in the field

Cons

  • May be common sense for some readers
  • Simple advice, but possibly hard to implement

Bottom line

This book is a great starting point for anyone looking to learn more about the importance of focus from a prominent thought leader in the field.

2. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The One Thing is a non-fiction book note, exploring the idea of focus as a key to success.

The title starts with the story of a man who had successful businesses, but was struggling to find fulfillment.

After attending a seminar led by Gary Keller, he decides to focus on one thing at a time and his life begins to change.

The book goes on to explore the science behind focus and productivity, and provides readers with tips on how to apply these concepts in their own lives.

In addition, the book includes interviews with successful people from a variety of fields, who share their insights on the importance of focus.

Overall, The One Thing is an interesting and informative read that offers valuable insights into the power of focused attention.

“Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list—a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”

Pros

  • A simple but powerful message
  • The author practices what he preaches
  • Inspiring in that it makes you feel you can accomplish anything by narrowing your focus

Cons

  • Some may find the advice repetitive
  • Lacks some of the practical techniques offered in comparative titles

Bottom line

If you’re looking for an inspiring book that will make you believe in the power of focussed attention, this is a great choice.

However, if you’re looking for more practical advice, you may want to look elsewhere.

3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown argues that too often, we try to do too many things at once, spreading ourselves thin and becoming bogged down in the details.

Instead, he advocates for a more disciplined approach, focusing on what is essential and eliminating distractions.

McKeown provides readers with a step-by-step guide to living an essentialist life, from identifying one’s core values to setting priorities and saying no to non-essential commitments.

He also tackles common stumbling blocks, such as the fear of missing out and the tendency to take on other people’s problems.

By following the principles of essentialism, McKeown contends, we can achieve greater clarity, focus, and satisfaction in our lives.

“I can do anything but not everything.”

Pros

  • A useful core concept – focusing on getting the right things done
  • Emphasizes goal-derived prioritization
  • The perfect read for someone who feels pulled in may different directions at once

Cons

  • The book could have been much shorter
  • Some readers may find the author’s tone too preachy

Bottom line

If you’re looking for a book to help eliminate distractions and attend to the essentials (accompanied by a workable framework), this is a good option.

4. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

In “Free to Focus,” Michael Hyatt shares a productivity system that can help busy professionals get more done in less time.

The book starts with an overview of the problem of overwhelm and why traditional productivity solutions often fail.

Hyatt then introduces his FOCUS Framework, which includes four steps: fishing out the right tasks, ordering them by priority, chunking them into manageable blocks of time, and scheduling those blocks into your calendar.

He also covers how to deal with common productivity challenges such as email overload, unexpected interruptions, and the false belief that we have to do everything ourselves.

Throughout the book, Hyatt provides actionable advice and helpful resources that can help readers put the FOCUS Framework into practice in their own lives.

“Free to Focus” is an essential read for anyone who wants to take back control of their time and achieve more meaningful work-life balance.

“…productivity should free you to pursue what’s most important to you.”

Pros

  • Offers a comprehensive and actionable productivity system
  • The author is a well-respected authority on productivity
  • No fluff

Cons

  • The FOCUS Framework may not be suitable for everyone’s needs and preferences
  • Might not offer anything new for those who’ve read similar books

Bottom line

If you’re looking for a system that can help you get more done in less time, this productivity-led look at focus is recommended.

5. Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction by Chris Bailey

In “Hyperfocus,” Chris Bailey explores the concept of focus and its importance in our fast-paced, constantly-connected world.

Bailey starts by discussing the history of focus, tracing its origins back to the early days of human civilization.

He then delves into the science of focus, explaining how it works and why it’s essential for productivity.

Bailey also provides readers with practical tips on how to improve their focus and get more done in less time.

In addition, he explores the role of technology in our lives and how it can be both a help and a hindrance when it comes to maintaining focus.

“Hyperfocus” is an insightful and informative read that offers valuable insights into the power of attention in our modern world.

“By focusing deeply on just one important thing at a time—hyperfocusing—we become the most productive version of ourselves.”

Pros

  • Separates types of tasks into four useful strategies
  • Outlines two types of attention and shows us how to harness both
  • Very actionable information

Cons

  • Some of the material is slightly repetitive
  • The author summarises the research of experts in the field rather than offering first-hand research

Bottom line

This book provides a comprehensive look at focus, its history, and how to harness it in our modern world.

If you’re looking for an informative and actionable read on the subject, this is a good pick.

Summary

Focusing in the digital age, with all its many distractions, can be extremely difficult.

However, as these five books demonstrate, it is possible to improve your focus and be more productive.

Whether you’re looking for tips on how to better manage your time or insights into the science of focus, these books all have something to offer.

So if you’re ready to take your productivity to the next level, pick up one of these recommended reads and learn how to focus like a pro.