Training for a focused mind in a world full of distr…SQUIRREL!!!
LAWD. HAVE. MERCY!
I am having a heck of a time staying focused lately. Even writing that sentence was met with two different distractions bombs, one being the ever thrilling gaze aimlessly out the window, “oh, a Squirrel! What’s he up to? ” (Proceed to spend the next 10 minutes following said squirrel’s progress. It was titillating.) Needless to say, it’s driving me BANANAS! I need and want to be more productive than I’m being but am on the big time struggle bus.
Can you relate? Do you have a project or a goal that is super important to you but are finding it hard to stay motivated and focused on it? I think we have ALL experienced this. Like, a lot. Yes?
So, what can you do to regain that pinpoint focus? How can you navigate through all the distractions around you and get back to the hustle?
I’ve come up with this list of everyday habits you can cultivate to help sharpen your focus. Keywords being habits and cultivation. Working towards small, intentional tweaks in the way we approach our day. Take a looksie.
Make positive connections
Listen, connecting with people who can offer you a little guidance in your pursuits can be hugely impactful; whether you spend money and hire yourself a coach, or talk to a trusted friend that has some success in the thing you are pursuing. Don’t be afraid to seek help – there is no need to go it alone, folks.
In the town I live in there is a group of entrepreneurial women who meet up once a week to discuss their projects, brainstorm, encourage, and offer helpful advice. It’s wonderful and has the ability to increase that super focused productivity you desire. Check out your local MeetUp.com for tailored to you groups.
You can bet that someone, many someones, in fact, have been where you are at right now. If nothing else, it’s encouraging to talk to someone who “gets it.”
Keep negativity out!
On the other side of the token, don’t connect with people that always have something negative to say about what you are up to. Honestly. Screw them…kindly. They might be some of your closest friends or even your relatives. Not everyone is going to understand or be supportive of your dreams and aspirations. That’s life, but they don’t need to be in the loop on what you’re up to. Those rights have been revoked! Those people can really bum you out and maybe even get you questioning your own path, causing your focus to evaporate completely. Ridiculous. Don’t give anyone the power to poo on your dreams.
Protect your dreams
As much as I love my mom, I don’t share my passion projects with her while they are in their infancy anymore. It’s not even because she discourages me, she just shows an acute lack of interest that crushes my soul a little. So, she is now “out of the loop.” I’ve learned that it does more harm than good to share with her. In fact, I only talk to a few people that I trust with my vulnerability completely. My husband being my numero uno ear. Thank you Match.com. 🙂
Okay. I am finding that I always come back to this. Meditate my peeps. Practice quiet mindfulness. When I stray from a meditation practice, I really start to notice it. I think meditation works like HIIT (high intensity interval training), it continues to produce results well after the practice.
The other day I was meditating while watching a candle burn. The tip of the wick was a burning ember, a super focused spot, while the heat from the flame melted and expanded the wax away from the wick – because, hello, that’s how a candle works. I believe that’s how meditation works. It helps you to find focus while simultaneously expanding your mind, unlocking your creativity and potential long after you are done practicing.
Powerful stuff, but totally simple and easy to do…especially with practice. Truly, start with a mere 5 minutes a day.
New to meditating? Check out my meditation for beginners post.
Ugh. I know, exercise is the worst, but it’s a necessary evil I’m afraid. A couple of months ago I had a terrible case of sciatica, could barely move for a week. Not kidding. I had been doing nothing but working on my blog and my body finally revolted. As such, I was unable to work towards my goals and basically unable to do anything at all. It sucked. Hard. I am willing to bet real cash money that not having an exercise routine in place was the cause of this rebellion.
It’s just not good to be sedentary. But it’s not just about getting a bangin’ beach bod ever :), according to Dr. Karen Postal PhD, exercise is the most effective way to improve memory and attention. Woah! Sprinkle some sweat inducing exercise into your life and you will kick some ass. True story.
I began incorporating 10-20 minute HIIT routines into my days. I just choose from the millions of options on YouTube. On top of that, I choose to walk or ride my bike to work instead of driving. Just making decisions to activate your muscles is step in the right direction. Get it?
I’m also very aware of that ever present “I don’t wanna” mentality that creeps in whenever exercising is on the table, and so these smaller commitments to work up a sweat are super appealing to me. I can do anything for 10-20 minutes. You catch my drift?
Exercise is good for body and mind.
Drink yo’ water. Stay away from the all-day coffee binges. Caffeine can cause the mind jitters. That’s terrible for focus, shocking, I know. Drinking water will keep you hydrated which keeps your beautiful mind more alert. In addition, eat healthy snacks throughout the day. Not only is it healthy (doy, it has ‘healthy’ right in the title), it will get you up and away from your project for a few minutes. Give yourself that little space from your work. We’ll call these micro breaks. You deserve it. Now go eat an apple and slurp down 8 ounces of hydrating H20.
Break It Up
Friends, is there anything worse than walking into your messy house and just not knowing where to start? For me, that’s the quickest way to get me to do nothing at all. I succumb to overwhelm. However, if I just put a plan in place and tackle one room at a time, I’m fine. I’m like the queen of productivity.
Same with my blog. I have a pretty big to-do list when it comes to this project and it can feel very overwhelming at times. If I let it, my focus will be spread all over the place, like butter on bread, and I am pretty sure that is actually the opposite of focus. What is a gal to do??
Break that shizz up, yo!
Here are some ideas to help you:
-Make a list of your most pressing to-dos. Then, break those down into another list of smaller tasks that need to get done in order to accomplish the bigger task. When you get up in the morn decide which task(s) you are going to tackle. Everything else is put on the shelf for later. Gradually tick down that list within a list until your big “to-do” is complete. You can have a free to-do list printable if you click here!
After each task pat yourself on the back while you quietly say, “I’m a badass.” Because, guess what? You are.
-Set aside blocks of time. Just like me and my exercise, you can do anything for 20-30 minutes. Really, you can! We can call this, High Intensity Productivity Training (HIPT). An example from my playbook:
I need to get to producing some blog posts so I am going to sit down and write for 30 minutes. I’ll set a timer and within those 30 minutes I will not let my fingers leave my keyboard. No bathroom breaks, no water, and certainly no Facebook fer fooks sake.
As I re-read that it sounds menacing, but it’s not. It is a really effective mental tool. “30 minutes. I can totally do that!”
Try this, then pat yourself on the back and quietly tell yourself what a life slayer you are.
Cultivating the habits to train your mind to maintain focus
I just want to wrap up with this: I believe we live in a culture of instant gratification. We want to lose that belly fat now, so we buy some crazy weird fat burner. We want a million dollars in our account so we pay for some get rich quick scheme. We go into thousands of dollars of debt so we can have all those shiny new products RIGHT NOW.
Usually these things don’t work or we are just onto the next new thing so fast we haven’t even opened the product we just spent a couple bills on. I think we have taken this mentality and applied it to other areas of our lives as well. But it just doesn’t work.
We need to build a new foundation to truly create the life we long for. Really, not much in life comes easy. Some of these tips I’ve shared may seem time consuming but they are effective and have the ability to drastically change your life for the better. Put time into yourself. You are so worth it.
Be Plucky! Be you, because you are beautiful.
If you made it this far, congratulations!! Let me know some of your tricks for staying focused!