Find your focus

This is an ongoing series that offers 26 ways for you to be aware of the things you need to do in order to make change. This is the sixth post in the series. Catch up on the previous posts. 

Let’s face it, distraction is par for the course in 2017. With everything at our fingertips, it’s almost impossible to be able to do anything uninterrupted anymore. Ding, text message. Ding, email. Ding, Facebook notification. Ding, Instagram notification. Ding, breaking news. Our phones alone are wired to not allow us one moment of peace. Not to mention the constant distractions of family, work, commuting and more.

When was the last time you actually had time to concentrate or focus on one thing for even 30 minutes? Think about it. I’ll wait.

How’d you do? If you’re like most people, probably not well. But don’t despair my delicate flowers, for there’s hope. Not only will I help you find your focus, it’s actually essential for your sanity. I’m sure you’ve read or heard talk of ‘being present.’ It’s everywhere these days and for good reason. If we aren’t aware of the moments that arise as we live them, we’ll never be able to appreciate them.

How can you enjoy spending time with your kids if you’re constantly distracted by your phone? How can you enjoy your workout if you’re thinking about that meeting you need to prepare for or checking your email every minute? How can you relish time with your partner if you’re not listening to each other, you’re on the computer or watching TV?

Yes, we all have so much to worry about, but it’s ok, HELL, it’s more than ok, to check out for a little while. In fact, it’s what will keep you healthy. Banishing distractions and constantly thinking about what’s on your plate only leads to an endless cycle of more. More distractions. More on your plate. More to worry about. More to stress about. And so on.

How can you truly focus on getting things done when you’re only thinking about what else you have to do? It’s time to be selfish. It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to find your focus.

Here’s your assignment for the week. Every time you get distracted from a task, whether it be cooking, reading, working or working out, write it down. Write down what you were doing and what distracted you. Use a small notebook or even the notes app on your phone, but track every single one. Now, if something came up but you ignored it and stayed focused, that doesn’t count. It has to be something that caused you to pause or stop what you are doing, even for a few seconds. If you’re working on a project and your email dings, that’s one. If you’re making dinner and your kids start whining, that’s one. If you’re in the middle of your workout and you check your phone, that’s one. Get the picture?

Do this for a solid week. Then at the end of the week add up how many times you lost focus, how many times you were interrupted. Then try to add up how much time you lost or was wasted over the week because of those things. Guess if you have to.

Now, next to each of those things, write down something you can do to ensure you aren’t interrupted again. For example, if you’re working out, leave your phone in your locker. If you’re making dinner, tell the kids they can’t talk to you for 20 minutes and put on headphones. Or ask your partner to sit with them so you can cook in peace. If you’re at work, turn off email notifications so you can truly focus on what you’re working on. And put on headphones so co-workers know not to bother you.

If you have to, get creative. Not all of these ideas will work or be viable, but this exercise will help you figure out which interruptions bothered you the most and cost you the most time and energy. And those are the ones you want to address. Those are the ones to put energy into fixing. Obviously meditation is a great way to find focus, but if that’s not your thing, I get it. Of this list, pick at least three that you will implement immediately; those you know are negatively affecting your life and your productivity.

Then make a vow to yourself that you'll truly implement those three things for at least one week. At the end of the week see how you feel. Were you more productive? Do you feel more calm? Did you get more done? Do you simply feel better? If so, great! Keep at it and maybe even try and find more ways to focus as the weeks progress. But don't bite off more than you can chew. Only do what you know you can maintain.

I'd love to hear which things worked for you. Share below in the comments.