Where's My Focus Gone Now?19 Apr 2016
Does it frustrate you to find yourself getting started on a particular task for the third time during one hour? Although there isn't anything specific standing in the way of getting the job done, you mind wanders off and seems to be interested in everything but the task that you're meant to work on.
There are some easy to eliminate causes for such any annoying lack of focus:
Eating a bad diet
Filling your diet with too much of one specific item (like alcohol or coffee), or just making bad choices all-round (junk food) can cause attention deficit and concentration problems.
Not getting enough sleep
No surprises here - sleep is the key ingredient in keeping the mind-works going.
Being too quick to react
In most office environments this is a bad thing, even though it may seem like a great approach. By reacting instantly, you're not allowing any time to double check what you're doing or to reflect on any unwanted consequences. Better to give things a few minutes to sink in, rather than get ahead of yourself.
Staying too eager to say YES
The earlier on you master the art of refusing or being assertive, the better. It's one thing to be helpful to colleagues and polite to your boss, and another to completely give into the power of others and take their requests on as more valid than your own responsibility and plan.
Not knowing how to prioritise
With a little experience on any job, you can tell which items are more important than others. Make a point of dealing with high priority tasks first. Better yet, get an online tool that will sort items by priority for you.
Giving in to preoccupying thoughts
An ongoing fight with a spouse, a harsh comment from the boss or just feeling convinced you've left the stove on back home - these kind of thoughts can linger on your mind for hours, ruining any efforts to get to work. There are 2 ways of clearing the mind of them: 1. resolve the issue or 2. forget it and move on. Depending on the problem's importance, one or the other is always possible. It's an invaluable skill to be able to make this choice, work through it and carry on.
Still believing in multitasking
Gone are the days when people really trusted this makes sense at the office. Do 2 things at once, and none of them will be done right. Do them separately, both stand a chance of being well done, and you've got the added benefit of a calm, focused mind, that didn't have to stretch to concentrate on a balancing act. It's easier, more efficient and nicer to do 1 thing at a time.
Are your inbox displayed in front of you, phone switched on and office door open? These guarantee that whatever plans you've made, you will be disturbed. Manage these channels in a way that keeps you in charge of what you do. It's not that difficult: emails can be answered at set times, callbacks arranged and meetings agreed to in advance. If you aim to focus, external information input has to be limited.
Not taking breaks nor holidays
Your brain needs to reset every once in a while. Both for a few minutes every couple hours, and for a few weeks a year. Getting some rest and a little vacation for a change keeps the mind fresh and stimulated by work for longer in the long run.
Tick at least a few items off the list to buy some peace of mind & a tiny serving of concentration power for yourself. It's well worth it.