Do you feel like it’s difficult for you to put all your focus into one task? Is staying in the present moment a challenge for you? In our new series on changing our thoughts, we focus on, well, focus! If you find yourself drifting away from the present moment, forgetting important things, or just feeling fuzzy, you are not alone! Sometimes it feels like there is nothing but distractions at every corner. What usually contributes to a lack of focus is having negative thoughts swirling around in our heads, excessive access to other people via our phones, and noise in and around our workspace. With those challenges in mind, here are some ways you can improve your focus:
Find a calm, distraction-free location to complete your work
These days, a lot of us are working from home at a home office setup. This has been a welcome change for most of us, but has also opened up the door to all the distractions being in your own space brings. It can be difficult to complete your work when you see that you haven’t swept your floors and you must clean before you start on your work, right? This is something that I struggle with in working from home, and what has helped me is making sure my workspace is clean the night before so that I don’t get tempted to distract myself with cleaning before working. It also helps to set up your workspace in a way that lights you up and makes you excited to be there but doesn’t distract you. Make sure your environment is calm and quiet so that it is difficult to get lost eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. If it’s a challenge to get away from the noise, have a pair of headphones handy and crank meditation music as loud as you can handle. I have also found that lo-fi beats are great to listen to while you’re trying to focus on work.
It really isn’t healthy to multitask. It splits your mind off into too many different directions, making it hard to get the most out of what your brain can achieve. Focusing on one task at a time helps you stay in the present moment and prevents you from being overwhelmed by all the work you have convinced yourself that you need to get done at once. This helps you make the most out of the time that you have allotted to complete this task, because you are putting all of your brainpower into it, not just half.
Clean out your mental attic
It can be a major challenge to focus when we have too many emotions swirling, unchecked around in our heads. I find that it’s best to take care of this in the morning before getting to work. Set yourself up for success and take care of your mental health by checking in with your body and your emotions each morning. I like to sit with them in meditation, and then if I am feeling particularly emotional, writing my feelings down in my journal and trying to find a solution helps. Writing it down allows me to release the emotion, and seeing it written helps my brain detect what I have the power to fix right then and there, and what I can push away. This is a DBT skill called the “pushing away method”, which you can read more about here.
Take short breaks
Instead of forcing yourself to plow through task after task, which contributes to a significant loss in focus, split up your tasks with small breaks in between. It helps to have a small snack to help your brain get more fuel so that you can be even more productive and focused when you get back to work. A five to ten-minute break where you give yourself time to stand up, stretch, eat something, and do breathing exercises can do wonders for your focus, mental health, and the overall quality of your work.
Write out your priorities at the beginning of the day
I like to do this while I’m doing my morning journal entry. After writing down my morning affirmations, which helps shift my brain to a more positive mindset, I write down the three most important tasks I need to get done that day. Splitting off my priorities into my “big three” for the day helps me feel productive and also helps me stay focused on what I need to get done that day. It helps to be clear and direct with yourself about what you need to accomplish, otherwise, you have this vague sense of anxiety in the pit of your stomach, making it hard to finish your work in a timely manner.
If you haven’t already, check out last week’s article, where you will learn how to engage with your creative potential!
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Alli is our office manager and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University, just recently moved to St. Pete and is enjoying paradise. Her interests include painting, history, and learning about other people.