Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

This Weird Change In Font Is Proven By Research To Increase Your Focus

This is the Simplest Possible Way to Upgrade Your Focus!

It’s called cognitive disfluency — a phenomenon where more cognitive engagement leads to deeper processing, which facilitates encoding and subsequently better retrieval.

All it takes is making your font smaller — which is proven to lead to better creativity and focus.

This piece has been updated as I stumbled upon this theory on my own, not realizing cognitive disfluency was a thing!

Here is that journey of that discovery from a few months ago.


Force functions come in different flavors.

And I have a theory that if you make your font smaller, it’s a force function that leads to greater focus — especially if you’re writing (or emailing all day).

We all love a great hack that accelerates our development for the better and this discovery comes from my own use, discovery and implementation.

Context

I just became a full time writer literally a couple weeks ago so naturally mastering my craft of writing is very important to me, especially now.

As I was writing a piece the other day that I thought was a great improvement from previous pieces, I stood in amazement as to how fast my writing has been improving.

Sharper performance each day at increasing rates, connecting myriad ideas that were succinct and made sense.

My numbers were also proving me right. Growth rates on my email subscribers and followers.

Words coming out faster and faster with my intensity and conviction growing by the minute.

Then It Dawned On Me

I realized I have gone well out of my way, and prefer both the typing experience and viewing experience of my produced work when I write my first drafts in a word doc in a small Calibri font (12).

I can publish on this beautiful blogging platform (Medium) that’s super user friendly to write my first drafts, but again, went well out of my way to use Word and smaller font.

I’d experimented with big fonts too. I have tried all of them and have and remain to have a strong preference for small fonts.

I had to explore further.

I realized I have almost been squinting as I type, and seem to have better focus when doing that.

Was it the small font that kept my fingers running away and pouring words onto the page with deeper and deeper focus?

I had to learn more.

How Our Eyes Work When We Squint

You (like me) have probably never stopped to consider how your eyes work much less whether or not if the slight force required to focus on smaller font brings out greater focus.

After exploring several sources from various medical sources and doctors, some form of the below seems to be the rule. The below comes from a Lasik Laser center in Nevada.

  1. “The lens in our eye is flexible and changes shape. In a way, our eye is like a camera. It has the ability to focus on something by making small adjustments. Just as a photographer can adjust his/her lens with small movements of their hand, the lens of our eye can change shape by employing the muscles surrounding the eye.
  2. Squinting also reduces the amount of light allowed into the eye.Sometimes the reason something is blurry is because there is too much light. By squinting, we reduce the light’s impact on our retina, thereby making the object we’re looking at appear sharper.”

I also then thought about what distracts us most and where that comes from — which is your eyes.

  • You see the email come in.
  • You see the person at your office who comes to interrupt you.

How Attention Works

What we pay attention to, we focus on.

What we focus on, we add energy to.

What we add energy too, we expand.

This is called experience dependent neuroplasticity. According to Brain Science international, the brains capacity to change is a fundamental property. So in the context of my little theory, the amount of focus it takes to focus on what you’re doing, naturally creates more focus!

My Routine and More Context For How I Came About This Theory

I spend 4–6 hours of my day each day reading and writing.

My focus, output and eyes are extremely important (as they are for most of those who sit behind a computer all day) and I’m always looking for an edge.

***I absolutely am not a doctor so please don’t ruin your eyes and come calling on me for your eye troubles. That is my formal disclaimer. Be an experimenter and play around with stuff and see what works for you.***

I’m telling you this is what I’ve noticed work exceptionally well for my own focus as I write and then compare it to when I write with larger fonts on the blogging platform I post in (here on Medium), and then within in emails (in a larger font).

There are obviously other factors involved as well, like I’m at the beginning of a full time writing career so also have voracious energy about it.

It’s all I do so perhaps that creates even more intensity than for someone who writes part time (and which is perhaps why I’d notice something so nuanced as font size and focus which I think has helped bring out my best).

Screenshot of the text font I use

I have found this has deepened my focus compared to the larger size of Medium’s required font and have gone out of my way to choose it each day:

Screenshot of Medium’s text.

And finally compared to my email.

Text in my email.

Priming Your Focus — If My Theory Is True — The Small Font Is a Force Function

“The grass isn’t greener on the other side, the grass is greener where you water it.” — Sam Ovens

My theory is that the small font serves as a force function that catalyzes the process of focusing on something with your eyes.

What makes it feel even more powerful is the activity of typing on a keyboard itself — being noticeably conducive, thereby making it easily applicable and effective.

Compared to the large font which requires less focus from the outset and (if my theory is true) more focus to stay focused on the activity of typing.

Given the key to focusing well is removal of outside stimuli to eliminate distractions, if we’re expanding more energy, and sucked into the words on the screen, we’re more focused, and allow in less which eliminates distractions. Makes sense, right?

When we focus on small font (imagine squinting but don’t make the font so small that you’re forced to squint) and are forced to expand a bit more energy paying attention, it’s that energy output itself that increases the focus while also removing distractions in the process.

A Fun and Weird Conclusion About What Hoodies Have To Do With It

Writing this piece while I was wearing a hoodie got me thinking about why we love hoodies so much and what they have to do with focus.

When a boxer prepares to get in the zone, why does s/he pop on a hoodie before the fight?

Photo by Lobostudio-Hamburg-6

When you leave the gym after a long workout, why do you pop on the hoodie to recover?

Why do we love hoodies so much?

Whatever it is about hoodies, it seems there’s something about putting one on and popping that hood over our heads that makes us feel safe, connected to ourselves, and perhaps, focused?

What happens when you put your hood on? Your line of vision changes and becomes constricted a bit.

And you’re able to see less. When you see less around your eyes, you’re forced to see what’s directly in front of you or at least less of what’s around you (to be exact).

Again, it’s that local mental environment of forced focus we like (most often unconsciously) that has us pop that hoodie on whether it’s blocking everyone out when leaving the gym or getting into our own focused state before the boxing match.

Live photo of my view outside without hoodie.

Photo by Aram

Live photo of my view with my hoodie.

What do you think?

Do you think having your immediate eye sight constricted leads to better focus?

Do you think having your immediate surrounding better suited to focusing on what’s immediately in front of you?

I think there’s something to it. Do you?

Don’t read this piece and consider it “truth or false”.

Just utilize it to think — which very well may mean tossing it out.

Or perhaps you just learn from my perspective so you can decide what to accept.

After all, there’s really no such thing as “truth”, as truth is subjective.

Therefore, I hope you play around with my little theory hack and see if it works for you and improves your focus.

I’ll leave you with this quote on knowledge and “truth” by one of the geniuses of our time, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, professor and best-selling author of world renown book, Sapiens.

“The real test of “knowledge” is not whether it is true, but whether it empowers us. Scientists usually assume that no theory is 100% correct. Consequently, truth is a poor test for knowledge. The real test is utility. A theory that enables us to do new things constitutes knowledge.”