I’m fairly productive as a person, but the truth is, I get distracted easily and have a hard time staying focused at times. If I didn’t have notes when I was preaching, I would totally get off track. My mind wanders way too much.
Thankfully, there are a few things which help me gain focus again. Or, at least, they help prepare the conditions to keep me focused. It’s still a discipline on my part, but these things help.
7 things that help me help me regain focus:
Being well rested when I start my day helps me face the day with a clearer mind, so I can begin with focus. Getting a proper amount of sleep is crucial for me. I recently had some surgery which interrupted a healthy sleep pattern, so this one is even more important to me now. It could be a 10 minute walk or a 10 minute nap, but taking a break from what I’m doing during the day helps me better focus when I return to the work. The more tired I am the more restless my thoughts become.
I work better under pressure. It may seem strange, but it’s true. And, many people do. I sometimes set my own deadlines. If I put a task on my calendar or if I schedule the steps to completion, I’m more likely to discipline myself enough to meet the deadline. Checklists and calendar reminders are my friend.
If I’m passionate about a project – I mean really passionate – I’ll invest the energy and stayed focused to complete the task. This is true about most things which grab our passion. Without passion for something I give up quickly. So, if it’s something I know I have to do I often ask God to give me passion and enthusiasm. I also return to the roots of where my passion began. I review the purpose of my calling. I remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. (If you can’t remember there are probably bigger issues which need to be addressed in your life.)
It may seem petty, but sometimes one well-worded email can break a period of distraction and push me to focus on the task. It reminds me why I need to discipline myself to move forward. This is why I keep an “encouragement file”. Basically, anytime someone emails me an encouraging email I set it aside. When I need to focus better, especially when doing things I don’t enjoy as much, nothing redirects my energy any quicker than reviewing this file.
Following a big “win” I’m motivated to work for another. Honestly, it’s usually a short-lived window of opportunity, but if I strike “while the iron is hot” I can better “seize the day”. This is one reason celebrating success is so important. It motivates you to focus on another moment like this one.
I’m less disciplined, less motivated, and less content when I’m out of my exercise routine. Actually, I’m less happy overall. I recently had some health issues keeping me from exercising as much as I usually do. I could feel the drain of focus. I am having to figure out some new exercises to do. Exercise gives me the stamina to do the things I need to do.
I’m not a rule follower. I don’t like a lot of structure. However, if there is a system in place, I’m more likely to stay focused to completion. The old saying goes “if you want something repeated systematize it.” The same is true for completion. You’ll be more focused for progress if you develop a system to get you from start to finish. In fact, if someone tells me focus is a problem for them, I almost always encourage them to first look at their system of doing work first.
Do you have a problem with focus? What helps you gain focus again?