Yesterday I spoke about reading a great article on Self Improvement Newsletter. Well, it turns out I only shared half of it, and found the rest of it to be pretty useful, too. So here it is (below). Now I need to dress up as something starting with “P” for Red Riding Hood’s birthday party. Ciao!
Article: 7 Steps to Improve Your Focus Overnight – By Catherine Franz ***
Haven’t you always thought having a disorderly mind meant something was wrong? Well, I did. That was, until…
I read tons of information about the brain, including material produced by the Center for the Study of the Brain.
And guess what? Having a mind that is disorderly is a natural condition. Who would have guessed? Hey, we’re normal.
Doesn’t just knowing this give you a breath of fresh air? It sure did for me.
After my fresh air experience, I was still faced with the challenge that I needed solutions. How can be more focus when I want and not just when it swims in at its own leisure?
So, I weeded through a stack of medical journals, talked with some therapists and doctors, and came up with what I’m about to share. Then I put them to a test. To my surprise, they worked. And worked darn well.
The most common blocks to being able to focus are:
1. Being tired.
2. Being bored.
3. Being under stress or duress.
4. Trying to do too many things at once. (Too many balls you’re juggling.)
5. Are you hungry?
6. Do you need more clarity?
7. Do you need to make a decision you are trying to avoid?
After learning to be acutely aware of when any of these blocks were occurring, I experienced a new euphoria in my life, especially in my decision making process. Instead of trying to force myself to focus when I was experiencing one or more of the blocks, I choose to correct my time management and answers instead. I also learned to take better care of myself physically when any of these were occurring. I also needed to develop methods to let go of them quickly. This could include getting more rest, like taking a nap, going to bed early and getting up early, exercising the stress away, and stop multi-tasking. And not feeling guilty about it but to be proud of it. Oh heavens, the last one is a whole story by itself.
In the research process, I picked up seven simple tricks that can help increase focus for a few seconds, a few hours, even a day if you take it slowly. Over a 30-day trial period I put all these to a test. Many I did sporadically and just needed gain them as a habit. I set up printed reminders and Outlook pop ups to keep them active. Even cards on my bathroom mirror helped.
First, I didn’t begin anything without asking what my objective was for doing it. What do I want to accomplish? It didn’t matter if I was taking a shower, making dinner, chatting with a friend or client, or writing. Everything!
Let me tell you, it sure wasn’t easy to remember to ask the question. Many times I thought it was silly and wanted to stop. I soon realized that in order to go big I needed to begin small. What got me through this portion was knowing the small would pass quickly and the big wouldn’t be big any longer.
The second is envisioning the payoff. Feeling full from the dinner before I began to eat or seeing my writing being emailed or published. The stress reduced itself by half at first and then decreased completely. This transfer renewed me spiritually, physically, and mentally. My self-talk became more and more positive as time progressed.
Third was setting up the environment for my success. I cleared my desk except for the materials I needed to work on. Again it felt silly at first. As I progressed with the practice I was able to do it faster and without thinking. Sometimes I played a productivity CD or meditated for a few minutes *I praybefore I start working. Only on days when I actually achieve anything. (using a timer so I didn’t get lost in time). Before when I did this, I felt I was wasting my time. Now, I realized this actually accomplishes the opposite.The fourth is being in the NOW — the present moment. Not thinking about the past or the future. Just the now. When I first started this practice, I found my inner chatter jumping into the future often. Instead of dismissing it, I told myself I would address the question or answer in X minutes. It seemed to satisfy the need to let go of the distraction. I began seeing how much time I wasted on future possibilities…playing the “if” game. You will find this yourself doing this as well. It’s a neat practice to test whether you’re really in the now as well.
Fifth is learning to let go of everything else except the objective. It’s similar to the NOW exercise above, just a little stronger. Here’s you letting go of what comes next and doing what needs to be done now. When I’m in this stage I think of a horse drawn carriage. The horse is wearing blinders so their eyes don’t stray or see something that spooks them. This includes letting go of any fears that might be crowding in. Just put on the blinders. I use my hands sometimes to imitate this effect.
Sixth is about taking breaks. It wasn’t until my third year at college, my first degree, that I learned that if I took a short break every 30 minutes, for science every 15 minutes, I remembered more. My brain caught up with what I just read and processed the information. I began connecting the dots. Ask yourself, “What is your maximum attention span?” It averages somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes.
The seventh method involves writing. Writing down what it is that is blocking your focus. Writing releases the “I don’t want to forget” factor. It places the information in a trusted place you know you can return to. Set the timer for five minutes and free write what’s going on in your mind. I call this process, “The Dumping Game.” I recommend using a positive tone.
Focus doesn’t need to be fleeting elements in our life. Nor do you need to tolerate the natural disarray condition. With alert awareness and conscious choice — and solutions on how to focus — it can be there whenever we want or need it. Just knowing that it’s part of your arsenal is powerful in itself. As you test these solutions, you will find what works best for you. It’s guaranteed to work somewhere in the process.
I have a post coming on focus, concentration and so-called disorderly brain. I’ll keep you posted (hur hur).