Mastering The Skill of Focusing
I have recently noticed a common theme amongst many friends, colleagues and associates. It appears that many are struggling with the same issue – ability to stay focused on a single task for a prolonged period of time.
I am not at all surprise… I mean, take a good look around you and compare the state of our world now to say two decades ago. There are just so many things to contend with, fast-pace life, ever developing technology, world economy, global climate and so many others!
Not too long ago, I did something that I know many people should be doing but are not. What is it, I heard you ask? I sat myself down and actually took a mental inventory of my typical day; I was alarmed by the sheer number of tasks that I concurrently found myself working on at any given time.
The worse thing I found when I examined my results and productivity levels was that it was obvious that I was struggling to keep up with previous outputs during the earlier phases of my business.
I have had to go back to the “drawing board” (as they say!) and put some strict measures in place so that I am more focused on things and people that really matter to me.
How about you? Do you believe you are as effective as you could be? Lack of focus is direct cause of my reduced effectiveness. Whilst we women are known for our multitasking abilities, this wonderful ability can sometimes be a hindrance in disguise! Below is the link to a post I previously wrote about focus.
I read an article by Waitzkin and it demonstrates the detrimental effects of multitasking and also made reference to a study at the British Institute of Psychiatry which showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ by about 10 points.
This was a real eye opener for me! I used to be one of those people that is constantly checking my email throughout any given work day – all thanks to smartphones! It’s difficult for me now to believe that I would completely stop a task (often an important, revenue generating task) just in the name of to tending to a new email that popped up in my inbox – regardless of whether it was an important email or not.
When I read that this type of distraction was literally decreasing my IQ, I was able to see certain areas where the quality of my life and work had been impacted and made necessary adjustments.
As human beings, we are designed to be at our best when we are able to stay focused and concentrated on one item of work. This really applies to any task we perform. If you have ever learned a manual skill like say, stocking up supermarket shelves, plaiting your daughter’s hair nice and neatly or even learning to drive, you likely noticed a learning curve. At first, you might have felt awkward and you may have even messed up your first few attempts at the task. However, gradually you got the hang of it and developed a rhythm. After a certain period of time, you actually started to master the skill and eventually you were able to do double, triple, quadruple (or even better) your productivity. Without you staying focus at the task, it would have taken you a longer period to master it.
The same thing applies to practically everything we do in life. If you want to learn a new skill, the best way to do it is through a complete immersion process – FOCUS! FOCUS!! FOCUS!!! If you want to run a marathon, you focus on running and likely divert from the weight room until after the competition. If you want to learn how to speak Spanish, your best bet is to get into a Spanish class and postpone your French class until you have mastered Spanish. Regardless of what you may be trying to accomplish, you will produce your best results when you are able to consistently focus on the highest priority activities.
When you begin to tap into the power of focus, you will notice that it becomes increasingly easier to stay focused for longer periods as you develop the mental discipline to stay focus
If you are experiencing problems with productivity, take some time to carefully review the key points of this article. Then, try to determine if and where you are falling victim to distractions. Make a commitment to eliminate these distractions so you can begin to practice your focusing exercises.
You may want to start with 30 minute blocks. Try staying 100% present with (focusing on) the task at hand. Monitor your progress. As you feel comfortable and find your rhythm, work on stretching it out to an hour, then two hours and then go beyond if you can. However do not forget to listen to your mind and body.
Take regular breaks and have healthy meals to sustain your long term success. Whatever your situation, cultivate a habit of relieving your mind from your task for at a minimum of 15 minutes at a time. Then when you are ready, go back to the task and continue to strengthen your focusing skills.
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