Concentration is the key element to productivity. Manage to concentrate on whatever you do right now, and you get it done faster, better and it’s easier.

Experiments have shown, that we are able to fully concentrate for approximately 15 minutes at the time, then the mind needs a short break. People who train hard, can increase this span to much longer times, but full, 100% concentration can not be upheld indefinitely. Chess players know how difficult it can be to concentrate for long time spans. We seem to reach a saturation point after which the brain overloads and refuses to focus on a single goal or task.

The trick therefore is to work in phases of high concentration and then do something else that releases the pressure on the system and lets you breathe for a few minutes and then work with a spell of concentration again.

The very same problem of upholding the concentration applies to listening. We tend to listen to others for a short time and then our thoughts wander off….. Misundertandings are the results. If you want to increase your listening skills, concentration is key.

In her audiobook ‘Listening: The Forgotten Skill’ Madelyn Burley-Allen shows you how to acquire active, productive listening skills and put them to work for you – professionally, socially, and personally. With her time-tested techniques, you’ll learn how to:

  • Eliminate distractions and improve your concentration on what is being said.
  • Locate key words, phrases, and ideas while listening
  • Cut through your own listening biases
  • Interpret body language clues
  • Ask constructive, non-threatening questions that elicit real information
  • Get others to listen to you
  • Master a whole range of listening skills that you can use on the job and in your personal life

Sure Listening is only one area where concentration is VERY important. Just ask yourself how often you are drifting off in your thoughts whilst talking with others and whilst you really should be listening. Maybe you should make an effort too?


Purpose is important if you want to reach anything in life. Purpose give your actions direction and sustains your efforts.

Write down the goals you want to achieve. If you could have anything, what would it be? Don’t say ‘This is not possible anyhow…’ – Just tell yourself: ‘I’m capable of anything, so let’s see what I really want.’

Once you have your goals written down, select the three most important ones. If you try to achieve everything at the same time, you’ll overload. So just select three goals. Write every one of these goals on a big sheet of paper and hang it where you can see it at all times.

Now read that goal every time you see the sheet of paper. Every time! Repeating will help you get that sense of purpose and to get focused on the goal.

The audiobook ‘Every Move Must Have a Purpose’ by Bruce Pandolfini goes much deeper on the subject and will help you understand how important purpose is in life. Bruce Pandolfini is one of the world’s most sought-after chess teachers, and one of the most widely read chess writers working today. He was the analyst for PBS’s coverage of the match between chess superstars Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Bruce Pandolfini was portrayed bythe actor Ben Kingsley in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, and more recently was featured in the New Yorker and Fast Company. He is a regular columnist for Chess Life, the bible of the chess world, and continues to professionally coach young chess players and consult with CEOs from Fortune 500 companies. Bruce Pandolfini lives in New York City.