“If you chase two rabbits, you will catch neither one.” – Russian proverb
Improving your focus might be harder today than ever before…
How often do you multitask?
Do you text while walking? Go over what to eat for dinner in yoga class? Or ponder your weekend plans during meetings?
We live in a society where we’re constantly distracted. There is always someone or something yearning for our attention. But, switching between Facebook, emails, calls, Instagram and Slack isn’t being more efficient or productive. It’s just juggling between tasks and making ourselves busier and more stressed.
And frankly, it kills excellence and your time.
I’m sure you already know this. But do you know just how much?
According to a study, we’re distracted every 11 minute at work. And it can take up to 25 minutes just to regain that focus after being distracted. Holy moly, right?!
It’s time to reclaim that precious time and energy of yours. To help you with that, here are 10 simple ways for you to focus, so that you can do more of what you love.
1. Don’t go social first thing in the morning
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? If it’s checking Facebook, Whatsapp or emails, then you might set yourself up for a rocky start depending on what you see. (Which can be anything from cute kittens to a rude email).
My point is this: don’t gamble with your day. Instead, set yourself up for success by having a steady and doable morning routine. (Note for all overachievers: don’t overwhelm yourself here). It can include visualization, meditation, affirmations or listing a few things you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to take long, just make sure that you – and not someone else – set the tone for your day.
2. Know your priorities to improve focus
Be clear on what matters most to you. Not everything is equally important. The 80/20 rule, or the law of the vital few, is great to apply here. It states that roughly 80% of the outcomes can be attributed to 20% of the causes. So, spot the game changer(s) and focus on those.
Also, be sure that everything you’re working on has a clear “why”. Why does this matter to you? How will it make your life or business better? When you know why you’re doing something, you activate your most powerful resource: your energy.
3. Turn off any distractions
Set your phone on flight mode, turn off any notifications and tell others not to bother you when you’re concentrating. Name it to tame it. I usually call it “power hour”, even though it usually lasts 1-2 hours.
Take control of your focus. Even though you might feel tempted to check your Facebook or Twitter (just for a short moment!) – DON’T do it. Tell that curious little voice inside that you’ll check it later as a reward for your time of concentration. Boomshakalaka!
4. Do your key work first
If you have something important, or necessary you need to get done, make sure to do it first. After, you will have cleared out space for other things. This morning I did some things I really don’t like doing, but that are necessary, such as accounting and sending papers to the tax office (Zzzz…).
It might not be fun work, but doing the important stuff early in the day will give you a great start. And you’ll feel oh-so proud of yourself!
5. Put yourself in high-vibe mood
Our state determines the quality of our work. If we feel happy and calm, we can focus and create. If we’re stressed and overwhelmed, we step into fight or flight mode and thus aren’t open to see the best solutions.
Just think about it, you can focus way better if you’re relaxing in the bathtub, than if you’re running from a tiger, right? (Assuming that’s something we’ve all done, right?) So, get into a good state and then get to work. Just 5 minutes of watching cute puppies online, stretching or listening to an upbeat song can shift your mood instantly.
6. Check your email max 2 times per day
Teach others about how you respond to email. That’s right: TEACH them. When I learned this it was a game-changer. If you always reply back within 5 minutes, others will learn that you reply back instantly. If you only reply back during certain hours of the day, they’ll adapt to this. Promise.
Setup hours when you check your email. Like 10.00-10.30 and 15.00-15.30. Then, when it’s not ‘email hour’, focus on work that matters.
7. Put an end to multitasking to improve focus
As mentioned above, every time we shift from one thing to another it can take us 25 minutes to come back to what we initially worked on. It’s a waste of time – time that you can spend hanging out with your family, working on creative projects or learning a new skill.
Because let’s face it. We can’t do two things at the same time. What we can do is simply switch rapidly between tasks. (And no one won a Nobel prize for that). So, be mindful. Focus on one thing at the time and pour your heart and soul into that.
8. Don’t schedule your whole day
It’s easy to try to squeeze every little drop out of the day. To plan every hour in an attempt to get as much done as possible. But, in order to work in inspired, not forced, action we need to leave room for thoughts, ideas, and unplanned conversations.
Personally, it’s when I have “time out” (when I go for a walk, chat with someone or write on an empty page) that I get the best ideas and solutions. So don’t pack your days full. Leave space for creativity and that inner wisdom of yours.
9. Take time for breaks
Almost every day before lunch, I do 15 minutes of meditation. That time is invaluable and I never regret the break (even though my mind might convince me that I have way more important things to do than to chill on a pillow).
It resets my system and gives me a second start to the day. Just taking some time from being a human doing to a human being. (Ah, que bella!)
10. Only give yourself pluses
This was a tip from my mom. To only give yourself pluses (+) and not minuses (-). Basically, there are no minuses in her world. If you don’t do something, you just stay on square one. But if you do, you get a star. (She’s brilliant, isn’t she?)
It’s time to stop beating ourselves up. It’s time to stop allowing our inner dictator or perfectionist to run the show. It’s time to care for ourselves deeply and profoundly.
Hocus Pocus Focus
Being busy and doing more might give short-term satisfaction. But, it won’t give us long-term success and happiness. So, be caring about your focus and attention. Don’t splatter it all over the place.
Dedicate it to things that truly matter (or to what will bring you there eventually). And if you fall into the trap of busier, faster and multitasking, just remind yourself of the tips above.
It’s not about working harder – it’s about working smarter. We all got 24 hours in a day and we have to make the most out of that time. Not meaning that we do as much as possible, but instead that we choose what’s important and then dedicate our time to that.
Your days here matter. They matter immensely. So, make a promise to yourself to make the most of them. To use your time in a way that brings you energy, purpose, and fulfillment.
Start by choosing one thing from the list above and implement that today. Then, brag about your pick in the comment below 🙂
Photo cred: Maria Stenvinkel, Model: Amalia Wahlström