Let’s face it, in a world plagued by too much information and a lot to do with little time, we are predisposed to being less objective and more distracted. Think of the few last minutes you were in the middle of responding to an email and your phone beeped, prompting you to check that WhatsApp notification. Again, think of how long it took to redirect your attention to writing the email. Frustrating, right?
Part of the reason distractions bring about anxiety is it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds for the average distracted mind to regain concentration, according to psychologists. The frustration lies not on the distraction but on the amount of time it takes to get back to what was being done earlier. The 23 minutes and 15 seconds obviously build up during the day, cutting back on one’s productivity.
Here are some few tips on how to focus:
1) Have a daily routine: You can do this by simplifying the choices you make on a daily basis. Heard of successful entrepreneurs who have had the same breakfast for over 10 years? Or worn the same outfit daily? It is not that they have ran out of creativity- they simply understand that the most undetectable decision-making processes can rob one of their energy. This is not to mean that you wear the same outfit or eat the same meal daily. It is just to help you think of the daily little things you have to decide on and the impact they have on your time and energy.
2)Start single tasking: Multi-tasking has worked for many but this does not mean it is effective. Sure, you can get a lot done in one hour but multitasking rids you of concentration. Earl Miller, a neuroscientist, says, “Multitasking ruins productivity, causes mistakes and impedes creative thought.” So stop trying to do everything at a time. When you focus on one task at a time, you not only get it done correctly, but also efficiently and quickly.
3)Turn off the notifications: What are some of the notifications you have to deal with daily? Emails, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter are the most common and can bring about mental health issues if not checked. In as much as distractions from these notifications can last a maximum of 10 seconds, they interrupt our thought process long enough, making it difficult to get back on track. You can set aside a few hours of your day to build your social media presence or check emails but for the rest of the remaining hours of your day turn off your notifications and put your phone away to focus on what really matters.
4)Prioritize your tasks: You may have a daily overwhelming list of tasks to do at your place of work, home or business. How about ranking the tasks in their order of significance? Your values may come to play at this instance. For example, if you are a gym enthusiast, waking up in the morning to workout could be ideal; if you love spending time with your kids before responding to any emails in the morning then, your kids take priority.In his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen Covey suggests ranking tasks into important/not important or urgent/not urgent, to save time.
5)Take time off to rejuvenate: You are not expected to be focused always as it is human nature to burn out from trying to stay on track all the time. This brings us to what psychologists call decision fatigue which is one of the many factors that kill your focus. This can include having a 30-minutes nap during the day or walking to your favourite restaurant for lunch. Again, your values will dictate your rejuvenating decisions.
In conclusion, with will to power, the mind can easily focus. The problem lies in decision-making and how much your goals inspire you to stay focused. You can read as many articles regarding this topic but it all boils down to one thing, decision-making. Just decide to be the better version of who you are right now by making the right choice. It’s that simple.