How to stay focussed?
After enough soul searching, I now know what my career goals are and how to achieve them. I make beautiful plans. I add time in the calendar for actioning them. Looking at my plan, anyone will think that I am going to win a war or an Olympic medal. It's so perfect. What's not perfect is this - I don't seem to focus when I try to action my own plan. Every time I try, I seem to want to change my goals or change my actions on the goals. Else I suddenly seem to think philosophically - what is the purpose of my life? I am totally distracted. A message, a call, an email, even the wind can push me off course. What should take 15 mins takes more than an hour. I don't complete these actions. I can achieve miracles if only I can just focus.
We live in a world of overstimulation. There seems to be so much input that keeps coming from people, devices, work, activities. It's really overwhelming.
The boundaries of space and time that earlier used to guard us from overstimulation have disappeared.
The internet and telecommunication networks ensures we can get to anywhere in no time. Office has come home. The world is in our drawing room.
With this kind of reality, it's no wonder we are not able to focus/ pay attention to the important things and people in our life.
I earlier wrote an article about sharpening focus that you can read here. If you are getting started on improving focus, that would be the starter pack. People with attention deficit disorders, kindly seek help from the right experts.
What helps us stay in focus to the moments that matter?
Most people know that they lost attention/focus. The question is "when"?
If you know it at the end of your time for completing something, you can't salvage anything.
It's like realising at the end of the exam time that you have some more questions to answer. Helps no one.
One of the simplest techniques to notice where your attention is - is to use time as a leading indicator. Most of the games in sports are timed. There are numerous ways that attention is brought to the players - "Half time", "Break" etc.
If you struggle to maintain attention, when you start your task, keep 15 minute milestones. Keep a beeper at the end of 15 mins to remind you where you should be. At least you will know that you have lost your focus if you did'nt complete something within that time.
Over time, you will develop an internal timer that warns you if you are distracted without losing everything. However trivial this looks, it still works :-)
2. Practice & Perseverance: Not giving up too soon
This is the pet peeve for most who can't focus - I try but it doesn't work.
Here is the thing - learning to become distracted is easy because the nature of our mind is to jump from one to another.
Focusing on the other hand requires that the mind is in one place - its actually less work but is against the mind's tendency.
So its going to take you at least 21-48 days to get into the groove. Don't give up on day 5 conceding defeat to your mind without giving yourself enough chances.
When you lose focus, all you have to do is to start again where you left. Is it frustrating? Yes.
Is it near impossible? No. Will you ever get to complete your tasks before time? Big Yes.
We find it easy to be critical of ourselves.
When you manage to even focus for 1 minute which looked liked climbing Mt. Everest before, remember to celebrate with a pat on the back, a big smile or with whatever makes you happy.
Make the moment memory worthy. It will come in handy when you get stuck next time.
4. Imitate a child:
Toddlers are great people to imitate when they are into something. Its as if the rest of the world doesn't exist for them.
They are completely into what they are doing in that moment.
Being around them / just for fun imitating whatever they do can help us get into a state of focus.
What helps you be focussed?