Focus might seem like a luxury of unburdened minds, but there are secrets to building the superpower of prolonged attention.
Until our basic needs are met, or we are able to tolerate a delay in certain needs being met, we’ll be in a state of split attention.
The Non-Negotiable Physical Requirements
Adequate sleep, proper nutrition and moderate exercise are the bottom of the hierarchy of needs on the focus pyramid.
You can do a barely there job of focusing, completing the task with significant effort, but great works require a rested mind. Unless you are willing to sacrifice your sanity, at least temporarily.
No offense, brilliant insomniacs – Da Vinci, Tesla, Beethoven. I admire your unquenchable passion.
Have you ever felt hangry? I know I have.
Food is fuel for the brain. It determines the type of energy we have access to during the day. If we don’t have enough of the right foods, our mind will be sluggish and easily distracted.
TIP: We may feel like skipping meals when we’re busy working, but that’s a drain on our focus. Prep healthy snacks ahead of time, so you can grab them and keep your blood sugar up and your carbs and protein loaded.
Although I’ve mentally fought against this, exercise does indeed make everything run more smoothly.
From writing to stamina, exercise can make you feel more confident, and give you real, lasting energy both creatively and physically.
TIP: Next time you get distracted from a project and start checking Facebook, or watching Youtube videos, take a walk instead. When you return, you’ll find a renewed energy, and a few brand new ideas.
Your Physical Environment Plays a Part
If your environment is chaotic, it can be near impossible to keep your eyes on your task.
- Put away anything you’re not using.
- Close unnecessary tabs on the computer.
- Go full-screen with the task you’re working on.
An Organized Mind is a Focused Mind
Know your priorities. Without direction, it’s nearly impossible to focus. What would we be focused on? Likely, the next thing to enter our viewfinder – a cat meowing, email newsletters, the call of social media.
TIP: Name three priorities in your life right now. Write them down in your journal. Reference them when you need to decide your focus for the day.
My priorities for this month are:
- Running the first round of Media Detox Revolution, a 7-day challenge for clarity, confidence and creativity
- Fine-tuning my daily schedule to include new self-care strategies and business routines
- Becoming a more experienced hiker by doing urban hiking every night, and bi-weekly mountain hikes
Simplify your routine and goals. As humans, we tend to take on more than is possible to accomplish at the expense of our own self-care.
Prioritize yourself first. When you take care of your own needs, you become a powerful force with a strong foundation.
TIPS: Create a morning ritual, and an evening ritual, to get your day started and ended with self-care. Learn to estimate how much time tasks actually take you to accomplish. This way, you can take on only what fits with your personal priorities, and what you have time in your schedule to do.
To learn how to create a perfect daily schedule, master your time management, and take great care of yourself – you’ll want to sign up for the next Choose Your Revolution program, Daily Habits Revolution.
Take breaks. Working eight hours straight is doing you no favors, my friend. Mental breaks are needed to refresh our mind and attitude. Quality will suffer when you don’t take breaks, and you will burn out faster than a cheap candle.
Make an Appointment with Your Emotions
Learn to observe your emotions without attaching. It can be easy to get caught up in the drama our brain creates.
Remember, we are not our emotions. Feelings come and go. The more we resist them, the louder they become.
When I need to focus on a project, my emotions seem to be wearing tap shoes and carrying a tambourine.
Letting them go sometimes looks like me observing the emotions, such as, “This blog post is impossible! I’ll never get this done,” and then laughing at myself.
I certainly will get it done. I always get it done. It’s a matter of time, energy, focus and compassion.
Address your emotional needs so you can focus when the time comes. You’re important. Set aside time to explore your inner world. When it comes times to get to work, you’ll be glad you did.
Emotions are signals that we have unresolved beliefs or triggers. We might believe our emotional patterns are a part of our personality, but they are really responses to our perception of the world around us.
Emotional habits are created when we’re children. They can be hard to spot. With effort and commitment, we can adapt our responses to our current situation.
Make sure you’ve taken care of your physical and mental needs, or the emotions will become irritated.
Cultivating focus takes practice.
At first, you’ll likely experience frustration and mentally punish yourself for not “doing it right.”
When this happens, slow your roll, take a step back from the situation and see if you can laugh at yourself.
We are funny creatures, with our made up worlds in our heads. We really can be grumpy old men when it comes to starting new habits. Having a laugh at our own negativity can be a remedy in itself.
As always, be gentle. You’re a newborn babe at this each and every day, exploring and discovering new things. See yourself with the same wonder and amazement you would watching a baby take its first steps.