Haven’t we all been there?
The paper is due tomorrow, the unanswered emails should long have been attended to, and there is still the report for your boss waiting on your table. And your mind (as well as motivation) is having margarita shots with the pool boy on a beach in Acapulco.
I am grateful for all the possibilities life brings us. We can easily have a chat with far away friends, read (or listen to!) nearly any book we like or indulge in our favorite series without too much of an effort. The whole world is stored in your smartphone, learning – as well as distracting – possibilities are but one mouseclick away. You see where I’m going – the ability to truly focus on the task at hand, or on one goal, special to you, is more important than ever. As always, the three focusing tips down there are my personal favorites, all tested out and used regularly.
- Clear your workspace. This habit is important so I’ll repeat that. Clear your workspace. You don’t have to be the cleanest, most orderly person on the planet but make sure that on your working table you’ll find only what you need for that special task at hand. Literally, no one is able to concentrate on one important idea when all the other tasks of the day, week or month are hovering around her. So if you’ve got to finish something go ahead, finish this blog post later and clean that workspace!
- Work with scents and music. You can easily condition your brain to be more concentrated in certain surroundings. Yes, that won’t work the first time and yes, you will need to make a habit out of it, but good things in life often don’t happen within seconds ;). Choose new scented candles, which scent you love but normally don’t use in your apartment or workplace. After 4 or 5 times lighting that candle, focusing on the task at hand, and doing good work, your mind will associate the scent with focusing and there you go. The same goes for music – classical music or brain fm especially will easily put you “in the zone” after only a few sessions!
- Quick meditations. It sometimes is necessary to hop from one task to the next without having much time in between. While we all, theoretically, know that we shouldn’t do more tasks at once and should take breaks in between, the reality, more often than not, is different. However, if we take it from a “being more focused” kind of viewpoint, it is absolutely necessary to allow your brain some minutes of shutting down before tackling the next task at hand. Especially if you are in the writing business you will understand how impossible it is to write a report in one minute and switch to smashing down a captivating blog post the next – but that’s only my experience, I’m sure that other fields of work have equal examples. A 2 or 3-minute meditation or breathing exercise can help you recharge your brain and dedicate your full concentration to every important task. Really easy and quick example meditation: Open your windows. Choose your favorite nature sound (waves, forest, rain etc.). Put a timer on 3 minutes. Stay seated, but lean back and relax your eyes, your face and your torso, as much as your seating position allows it. Now focus on your breath. Imagine you are in nature, smell the salty sea or feel the rain on your skin. Breath deeply into your belly on the counts 1-2-3-4. Breath out on the counts 1-2-3-4-5-6. Repeat until your timer goes off. (Note: you will want to use a gentle timer, getting you back nicely, not making you jump!).
We live in a beautifully colorful world, full of abundances and opportunities. Unfortunately, this also means that calming ourselves down and really being able to focus on one single thing only has come to be a difficulty. Your mind, as great as it is, might need some help to function as well as you would like it to – the above habits, if used regularly, are a starting point. Modify and adapt as much as you wish, but remember to not give up after the first tries. Habits need time and time it is you will need to give them to cultivate!