My daughter charged back to her bedroom to get a pair of shoes for school. She came back with two Barbies, a stuffy, a hot-pink headband in her hair, a water bottle from under the bed, a scratch on her leg from playing with the cat. She did not come back with shoes. There were no shoes to be seen.
No focus = No shoes.
In this house we work a lot on finishing one task before starting another. You can tell how well this is working. Not. But, still I try.
Of all the things I want to teach my daughter, and there are many, (chew with your mouth closed, put your underpants in the hamper, be kind) the ability to focus on the present moment and finish the task at hand, is one of the biggies.
Being able to focus our attention is key to creating success in any area of life. It’s tough to keep friendships, for example, when you are the schmuck that keeps interrupting or looking around the room for something better. Bill paying takes an eternity, if you keep switching your attention to Facebook. Work is tough, if you can’t remember what you were supposed to be doing.
Place Your Attention the Present
Focus – the ability to concentrate and deliberately place your attention – is essential too, for things like gratitude and love and joy. You must be able to notice, to be attentive to the present, in order to appreciate the good emotion that comes with it.
There are a lot of distractions – texts, and apps, mp3s, e-mail pings, commericals, videos, kittens, kids, fresh coffee sitting two rooms away and even our inner voices — competing for our attention. That kind of incessant background noise eats away at our attitude.
When our attention wanders throughout the day we tend to make more mistakes and get less done. This leaves us stressed out, unsettled and unsatisfied. When we can learn to filter those distractions out and hone our focus, we feel better.
One Way to Stay Focused
So, are you still reading this or have you lost focus? Stick with me now, we are in the home stretch…
One way to focus long enough to finish this piece or a bigger task is to pare it down. Break it up in smaller chunks. Baby steps. Then, take on one chunk at a time and hit it hard for no more than 20 minutes.
Most of us can stay sharp for about 15 or 20 minutes before our focus wanders. But, when we chunk the task into 15-minute blocks, we feel like we’re making progress, then we’re more motivated and focused when we work on the next part.
As an added bonus, I list each of these little parts of the bigger whole on my to-do list so I get the joy of crossing them off. I lead an exciting life people.
So break down the tasks you plan to take on today and focus on those smaller, 15-minute pieces to complete the bigger job. Wednesday, I’ll fill you in on a few other tips you can use to sharpen your focus, but next – oh, wait, check out that photo on Facebook….oh is that fresh coffee I smell?