If the first step to improving in Go is setting goals, then naturally the second step is focusing on the goals and maintaining them. Focus and concentration are important not just with goals, but in actual Go games as well. How many games have you lost because you lost concentration and made a silly mistake? How many games have you won only because your opponent did something similar? Just what is the secret to staying focused?

There are many personal strategies you can develop to improve your ability to focus and concentrate. I recently read about the Five-More Rule. When you catch yourself getting distracted, force yourself to do something five more times. Read five more pages. Do five more tsumego. Think of five more possible variations or moves in a game. This is a simple concept, but can easily become a good habit and help naturally improve your concentration.

Of course, constantly taking action is important too. Whether your goal is long-term (improving at Go) or short-term (killing a group of stones on the board), it is important to stay focused and actually work towards your goal. You will succeed when you make continuous effort a habit. There will be times when you want to procrastinate and put off even simple tasks, but please make an effort to ignore these moments. Focus on doing something a little longer, just for five more minutes. Make an effort to help yourself along the way – little reminders about your goal, self rewards –  find whatever works best for you and stick with it.

Recently, it became necessary for me to take a one-week break from my study plan. Naturally, my KGS rank graph started to plateau a little around this time. On the last day of my break I felt almost no urge to study or play Go. However, I applied some of the techniques mentioned above and quickly got back into my good study habits. I was surprised at how these techniques affected my games as well. Today I played and won three games, which I believe is the result of increased mental concentration.

To conclude, here is another useful mnemonic for you:

Find a project.
Occupy yourself with this project.
Concentrate all your time on this project
Understand that nothing is more important than this project.
Suceed with this project.

Good Luck!


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