Wouldn’t it be nice if we could call up our focus like we ring our smartphone when it’s gone missing?
Distractions are nothing new. In fact, many take pride in their ability to multi-task.
But with the proliferation of electronic devices running our lives, our ability to focus has taken a nosedive.
Here’s the thing though…
Your focus is always there. It comes down to practicing how to find your focus when you need it most.
Bright Shiny Objects
With the business environment moving at lightspeed the onslaught of new business strategies available to try is mind-boggling. So is it any wonder our ability to focus is being challenged?
Every day I’m uncovering more and more things that grab my attention, and like many, my curiosity gets the best of me.
It’s hard to ignore.
I want to do everything I can to raise my game. I want to stay on the cutting edge of what’s working. I want to accelerate my business. I want the big payday.
But in chasing so many things my focus had gone missing. So enough of chasing the bright shiny objects. Enough of feeling the fear of missing out on something.
I took control, and now my focus is now stronger than ever. Here are 4 things I learned and now practice to help me regain my focus when feeling distracted.
Distractions are an inevitable part of modern life. Some are unavoidable and unmanageable; think of the landscape crew cutting and edging right outside your office space. Not much you can do other than your best to block it out of your mind.
Other distractions are fully manageable; think of your decision to check your smartphone every time it makes a sound, and even times when it’s not sounding off at all. Why are you sabotaging your own productivity?
Distractions ruin our flow when we’re trying to accomplish important tasks, and the result is things taking longer to complete.
Thinking: The Enemy Of Focus
We’ve all caught our minds wandering when we’re trying to focus on an important task. Sometimes it’s an innocent departure onto something trivial.
Other times though, it might be something that happened previously you can’t stop thinking about. A difficult conversation with a coworker or customer, or a family-related issue that keeps replaying in your head.
Thinking is obviously a necessary part of being human, but it sabotages our ability to focus. The result is forcing ourselves to try to focus. Yet by adding force we also add pressure.
If we are distracted and falling behind on projects because of it, and our thinking is getting in the way of focusing on what’s most important, pressure begins to build. The pressure just adds to the head trash your distracted, over-thinking brain congers up.
Using public speaking as an example, most if not all of us admit to being anxious when it comes to public speaking. If we allow the head trash to take control we might experience our worst nightmare while on stage.
Focus is the antidote to the head trash created by a distracted, over-thinking, and pressure-filled mind. Why? Because focus doesn’t know pressure, only the thinking mind does. So when we experience true focus, the pressure disappears.
Action Without Limitations
How would you like to go into any situation knowing your focus is always there?
Well, it is there. It always has been.
Thoughts are like clouds; they flow through freely, and can sometimes block our view, our focus. Distractions, over-thinking, and pressure are the storm clouds that can disrupt our ability to take solid, focused action.
Another concept to consider is a concept called flow. You know the feeling when something you’re working on is moving along. You’ve achieved a flow; maybe you get in ‘the zone’. You’re focus is 100% on the task at hand.
Creating routines are a wonderful way to achieve flow. High-performing athletes often have a routine they perform before, and even sometimes during competition. But, before a routine works for them in competition, they will have devoted hours to preparation by ignoring distractions, not allowing themselves to think ahead to the competition, or putting undue pressure on themselves.
Professional golfer Jason Day closes his eyes before every shot as he re-focuses and visualizes just that shot. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps had a specific routine he performed before every event. It started when he arrived at the swim venue two hours prior to an event and followed the same routine each time. Clearly, it seemed to work for him!
It’s not enough to know about the concept of focus. You need to experience focus first hand to fully appreciate the feeling focus can give you. Only then will focus allow you to take action without thinking.
- Do you have to focus to brush your teeth? Probably not. It’s become routine through experience. The same goes with tying your shoes. You learned shoe tying as a kid and have practiced it thousands of times. No focus is required.
- Do you need to focus to drive your car? You betcha! But it too can become a comfortable routine. We become over-confident, and now more than ever, have allowed potential distractions (smartphones again!) to interfere with the task at hand.
- No matter how good of a driver you think you are, losing focus while driving 60 MPH can kill you or someone else. There are some things just not worth the risk.
Tips to Help You Practice Focus
Acknowledge distractions, then re-focus and move on.
- It does no good to try to think about why you’re distracted.
- When we’re thinking we lose focus, and without the ability to re-focus there’s no way to carry on whatever it is you’re working on.
Eliminate multitasking when focusing on important tasks or projects.
- Checking your phone or email every 10 minutes while you’re trying to focus on an important task breaks flow. It requires valuable time and energy to re-focus and regain flow.
- Multi-tasking is also proven to reduce your ability to retain knowledge and information.
Get your sleep. This may seem obvious, but way too many entrepreneurs forfeit sleep as a way of thinking they’re achieving more.
- Studies have shown the opposite to be true. Rather, you do not get more accomplished.
- When you are tired you are less competent and more apt to fall into some of the other traps discussed above.
Practice meditation. Listen, I never would have expected myself to be someone who meditates. After all, isn’t that some ancient eastern philosophy for Buddhist monks? Not at all!
- I have found meditation to be a valuable practice in helping me listen to my mind and body. I use the Headspace app almost daily.
- Andy Puddicombe, the voice of Headspace, makes the act of meditating relevant to my life. He’s easy to listen to and easy to follow along.
Focus isn’t a thing that gets lost and needs to be found. It’s with you all the time if you are willing to practice accessing focus when it’s most needed.
Unlock Your Full Potential
Reach out to me if you’d like to dig deeper on this topic and find out how you can gain better control of your business and unlock its full potential. Comment below, use this contact form or click here if you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute triage call to explore what might work for you. And, if you found this article useful, please share it so others can learn how to find focus in their lives and businesses.