Maybe you’re reading this because the title “caught your eye”!  Actually it wasn’t your eye that got caught – it was your Reticular Activating System (or RAS for short). 


Humans have a sort of “Beat Cop” in their brains – the RAS – a bundle of nerves in the brain stem that controls what you pay attention to.


Learning how to take charge of your RAS will give you tremendous benefits in your ability to focus, pay attention and get more accomplished. 


You’ll be able to concentrate, keep going when tasks are difficult, and you’ll feel better about how much you get done!  You’ll be more “present” during conversations and more aware of your surroundings. 


The RAS has several crucial jobs.  One of them is to perform a kind of triage function to filter the millions of bits of information it receives and decide which ones to give priority to at any given moment. The RAS tells us to pay attention to things that threaten our survival or things that are closely tied to our goals. 


As you can see, the RAS is a big deal in the world of focusing! 


To have better focus, you need to take control of your RAS.  Luckily, you have several ways to do that.  One way is to use the “gross and sexy factor” to put your RAS on alert! 

I have to “give credit where credit’s due” – one of my educational psychology professors captivated the class one day when she talked about how to get people to pay attention.  She told us, “Never underestimate the gross and sexy factor!”  Wow!  That precise phrase has stuck in my mind for more years than I want to admit!


The reason the exact phrase became stuck in my mind is because she actually used the “gross and sexy factor” to get our attention! 


The very words captivated my RAS!  The key to using this technique to improve your attention and concentration skills is to surprise your brain in dramatic and creative ways so it wakes up and pays attention!  The mind ignores things that are “ho-hum” but the brain will “wake up” and pay attention to things that are surprising:  gross, sexy, scary, unique, emotional, vivid, funny, outrageous, or impossible.


So how can you use the “gross and sexy factor” to improve your attention and concentration skills in any situation?  


For example, let’s see how you could use this to your advantage during a “boring” business phone call.  Say you’re talking on the phone to a business contact and you’re beginning to “zone out.”  One of my clients finds herself in this situation frequently. 


My client uses the “gross and sexy factor” to harnesses her creative visualization talents and stimulate her interest enough so that she stays focused on the conversation.  She may imagine the person she is speaking to is wearing a wolf man mask or his nose is bleeding.  She may use the aspect of impossibility to imagine the person’s head floating up off of his shoulders like a balloon, or visualize him shrunk down to the size of a peanut, stretching to reach the phone! 


The trick to using this technique is to briefly alert your RAS, giving your brain a “wake up jolt” of mental stimulation, without distracting you from the task. 


So, don’t make your visualizations TOO interesting, or you’ll “zone out” for a different reason! And you’ll want to use different senses than the ones you’re using for the task so you don’t overload or distract yourself.  A conversation, for example, uses the language and hearing centers of the brain, so you’ll want to use other senses, such as visual images, to stay alert.


Final tip:  this weekend when you’re at the local pet adoption picking out your new Komodo dragon for your kids – be sure to keep your hands and feet close to your body!



If you have passionate dreams and brilliant ideas, but you’re frustrated by procrastination, lack of focus and difficulty following through, it’s time to get in the driver’s seat once and for all! I help women take charge of their “out of control” lives … women who feel scattered, overwhelmed, and out of their depths trying to keep their heads above water in their careers and personal lives.


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Grab a copy of my FOCUS Strategies for Women with ADHD - A proven system to stay attentive, on target and in control. I share a few of my best tips for getting focused and I even show you how to combine them into a successful system so you can stop the cycle of overwhelm and blame, get control of your time, and feel good about how much you accomplish. 

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kari Miller - ADHD & Productivity Coaching For Women and Students

Imagine finally feeling focused, confident and in control of your time and your tasks. What would it be like to release the frustration and shame and finally be able to skillfully manage your home, your career and your life! If you've tried all the "traditional" approaches to time and task management, but the pieces haven't come together for you yet, contact me - I can help!

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