When was the last time you found yourself working “in the zone?” You know, that time when you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing and loving every minute of it, because you KNOW you’re getting something great accomplished?
I hope it hasn’t been too long since you’ve experienced that. Unfortunately for many, working in the zone doesn’t occur often enough . If you work in a home office, there might be too many magnetizing home activities to do or distractions to fight off and if you’re in a corporate culture, you may find people, phones, noise, and other distractions breaking your focus all the time.
Performance and energy expert, Tony Schwartz, states, “More often than not, we’re not even aware that we’re failing to make conscious and intentional choices about where to put our attention. We simply shift focus reactively and reflexively whenever something new draws our interest. ”
Focus disappears when your environment, circumstances and situation changes. It also changes as your feelings change or when your body changes, like when it gives you signs of pain, discomfort or stress. Many people find it extremely hard to ignore certain distractions, interruptions or temptations.
But it’s crucial that you flex your focus muscle and practice using it in order to stay in charge of your own work day – your productivity, progress and success. It’s important to your bottom line if you own a business and it’s important for showing your value and results if you’re in a corporate culture.
Tony Schwartz goes on to say, “It’s as if someone is throwing balls at us all day long and we assume that our primary job is to keep them all in the air.”
I work with clients all the time who are consistently overwhelmed by this kind of scenario. Is it like that for you too? Are you trying to juggle because you have to or because you’re just doing it automatically without thinking about it?
It’s time for everyone to stop and think. Is your ability to focus M.I.A.? Is your work day all that it could be? Here are 10 strategies to help you improve your focus. In addition, these steps can also help you bring about other positive changes in your work day, as well as your health and happiness.
10 strategies to help you improve your focus
- Learn about yourself and how you operate. In what environment and under what circumstances do you work best? What time of day is your best time to focus? Protect your best time and space more than any other.
- Practice self observation. Regularly notice what you’re doing so you can make changes or improvements to habits or routines. Make positive activities automatic. Notice habits that aren’t serving you well anymore.
- Practice stillness. Meditate. Breathe. Sit quietly for a few minutes. Daydream. Reflect. Think. Let your mind wander…
- Take a break and recharge. Don’t work longer than 90 minutes without taking a break. Step away from your work to do something different so you can recharge and renew your focusing power, even if only for 10 minutes.
- Finish what you start. Look around for unfinished business before starting something new. Your sense of accomplishment and peace of mind will rise with each project and task you complete.
- Declutter your surroundings. Get organized. Few things improve focus and productivity better than a clear, open space to encourage clear, open thinking.
- Declutter your schedule. Be careful how much you take on and say “yes” to. When you feel overstretched or over-committed, take it seriously. Step back and take a close look at what’s happening. If you’re not careful, you could end up “running on empty” for too long. No matter how much fun you think it is to always be on the go, you need time to recharge and relax. Your health, productivity and peace of mind depend on it.
- Be present. Whether in a meeting or spending time with one person or working on a task, be present without distraction or interruption. Don’t do more than one thing at a time. Be in the moment and not anywhere else.
- Stop kidding yourself. Holding on to too much can leave you feeling distracted and burdened. In an emergency or when push comes to shove, you’d probably let go of much more than you have now. Let go of the reading you know you won’t really get to. Eliminate tasks that you really aren’t going to do. Reprioritize tasks for another week or month if you have too much on your plate now. Delegate more.
- Be healthy. Nothing improves your focus and productivity more than just being healthy. Work out regularly, watch portions and go for less sugar, less caffeine, less processed foods. A healthy mind – full of focus and energy – starts with a healthy body.