How I focus

16 June, 2015 (23:23) | business success, time management, Uncategorized | By: lifecoach

A professional organizer friend of mine recently confessed that she’s feeling overwhelmed and struggling to stay focused. On top of busily working in her successful business, she’s added ‘wedding planner’ to her already full plate as she excitedly prepares for the big day this September. Almost everyone I talk to these days struggles with staying focused. I will admit, I have my scattered moments too. There are tons of articles and books that teach us how to get and stay focused, but that requires us to consume even more information, and processing all of it can be fatiguing in and of itself. With that in mind, my goal for this article is to keep it as simple, and straightforward as possible so you can easily and quickly put these ideas into practice.

Here’s some of my tried and true practices for staying focused:

  • Before I begin a project, I clear my desk. A clear desk equals a focused mind. Even if you have to put piles on your floor, it’s better than having clutter in your line of vision to distract you.
  • I aim to create systems for as many things as possible. The more I can commit something to a system of habits, the less I have to think about it.
  • I do less, and say no. My default answer to new requests is often ‘no’. Or, at the very least I tell the requestor I have to think about it and get back to them. This sets up an important boundary for me, and it lets others know that I’m not an ‘automatic yes’ kind of person. It’s easier to go back on a no, than what’s often a people pleasing ‘yes’ in disguise. I can then give myself time to reflect and think about what I might be saying yes to, and why. I actually get fewer requests because of it!
  • I think less. In the book Confidence Code, authors, Shipman, and , explain that women are prone to over thinking everything. This erodes our confidence, and puts us in a constant state of worry, anxiety, and self doubt which hampers our ability to focus.
  • I watch short, funny youtube videos. Here’s one that’s only 3 minutes long and will take your mind off of everything – promise!
  • I stop what I’m doing for 5 minutes, and just listen to the sounds around me. This is especially stress relieving if I do it outside. The sounds of nature are thought to significantly reduce our cortisol level (a stress hormone).
  • I have a meditation practice. All I do is sit quietly for 5 minutes each morning. I go through my body and ‘notice’ what’s going on. First my breath, then the ‘weight’ of my body in the chair, the sensation of where my body is touching the chair, the temperature of my body, and even the sensation of the air on my skin. My brain loves to wander and when it does, I gently refocus by again noticing my breathing. It’s that easy. I started this practice by telling myself I’ll meditate for just 2 minutes. Come on folks, anyone can do 2 minutes! The science behind this is undeniable, and you WILL feel more focused and productive as a result.
  • I’ve given up on multitasking. A host of studies from the University of Michigan to Vanderbilt show that you can’t do two cognitive tasks at one time, particularly anything involving language. There’s only one channel for language to flow through. Each time you multitask you self-interrupt. That causes it to take longer, some 50% longer, to complete tasks, and the interruptions make your brain feel that tasks are harder than they really are, which fuels overwhelm. Anything we do that allows our thinking brain to rest will relieve our sense of overwhelm, and allow us to focus better.

I hope you’ll try some of these. I only recommend things that I’ve done myself and found to be effective.

Feel free to get in touch with me with comments, questions, or some of your favorite ways to focus.

Until next time, Breathe deeply, and BE calm.








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