“One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us.” – Daniel Goleman
It took me a long time to write this piece.
I found myself researching quotes (finally settling on the very appropriate Daniel Goleman one above), which led me to other websites that had nothing to do with what I was really writing about. Then I started to think about the things I haven’t been focusing on as much as I should. Inevitably, this led me to think about what things I should set aside in order to focus on the right things.
After these thoughts, I came back to my senses, sat down, and began writing this post. Luckily I didn’t travel too far down the rabbit hole of diversion (which is born from distraction or disruption) and didn’t have to call on any of the three things I do use to get focus back when I’ve lost it.
We all lose our focus at times. It’s inevitable. The key question is, what do you do to get your focus back? Next time you find yourself losing focus and simply feeling your way back doesn’t work, give one (or all) of these three things a try.
Whether you’re stuck on a problem you are trying to focus on or having trouble trying to focus on a particular problem that requires your attention, breathing can help. Closing your eyes and taking a few deep, cleansing breaths can do wonders. You can go so far as to meditate if you feel as if that’s what you need to do, but in some cases just taking the time to breathe deeply, properly, and uninterrupted for a few minutes can bring the thing you want to focus on front and center in your mind.
Once I’ve lost focus on something and I know that I’ve been rather sedentary for much of the day, I’ll exercise. Through lifting weights or running, I find that the fog surrounding my mind clears up and I can tackle what I want to work on more effectively. According to the Forbes article 6 Ways Exercise Makes You Smarter, exercise “improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards.”
3. Your task manager
If there’s one pressing reason to keep some form of task manager, it’s so that you can refer to it when you’ve been pulled away from your plan and need to get back on track. Your task manager – whether it is paper-based or digital – gives you a place to store all of the projects and tasks you have on your plate. That means that you don’t need to rely on your brain to house stuff; in fact, you shouldn’t give your brain that role. Instead, by using a task manager you free your brain up to do the work is better suited to do – process tasks and ideas. Using a task manager like Todoist, Asana, or OmniFocus (to name just a few options) gives your tasks a storage facility and gives your brain the peace of mind it needs to focus on the task at hand.
In many cases, the hardest part is to know that you are lacking in focus. This is why I use these three approaches on a regular basis.