It’s funny. Even as I’m trying to write this post, I find myself zoning out. It may be because it’s morning right now and I’m still waking up, but I think it’s testament to how much we need a little help with how to focus better. It’s so important, you know? We’re busy, busier than ever. Yet we want all the things. We want the dream job, the friendships, the family, the fit body, the hobbies. I think we can have a lot of those things, but it takes focus on whatever we have at the moment. We’re so distracted these days. Thanks social media, thanks phones. It’s not like us human beings have a lot of self-control on our own, but adding in all the bright lights and hums and instant gratification makes it really hard to focus on what we need to.
But if we don’t learn how to focus better, we’ll miss out on a lot of great moments. Because this post isn’t just about focusing at work and completing your tasks as quickly as possible, it’s about all of your life. You can’t focus at work because you’re tired, and you can’t focus at home because you have a lot to do at work.
I often find myself checking my phone when I’m with my kids because I have some “great idea” I need to research right then and there. Then I get wrapped up in social media or texts, and before I know it my toddler daughter has been trying to get my attention for the past several minutes. This isn’t some habit I want to be teaching her. And on the other hand, when I sit down to write, it takes me longer to complete any tasks because I’m not zoned in to what I have to do. So then I don’t finish my post or chapter by the time the kids wake up from naps, and not only do I waste more time trying to finish something when I could be working on something else, I’m thinking about my work when I’m with people.
It’s not the life I want. Therefore I’ve put a lot of energy into figuring out how to live my best life in the moment, focusing on what matters, and zoning into my tasks. Here, my friends, is my list of things to help you focus better. Put a little energy into these things and you’ll find you have a lot of energy for the rest of your life.
How to focus better
Get enough sleep.
We probably hear this everywhere, but I don’t think we’re getting it. I know I buy into the idea that to have more time for all the things, I can just carve into my sleep. Just a little. But then I’m so tired I’m zoning out. Sleep is vital. It gives our bodies the rest they need. We can’t work out of exhaustion, not without getting sick, losing proper brain function, or the inability to focus.
I would even go so far to recommend a better mattress. If you don’t have the money for one, save. There are a lot of great ones out there these days, but my husband and I used the money from selling his car to purchase the Amerisleep AS3, and even though I’m still getting up to feed my baby, the hours I do sleep are amazing. (Use this code to get $50 off)
Maybe these are obvious, maybe they aren’t. I for one know eating lots of vegetables like leafy greens and good oils help with focus. It doesn’t mean I won’t snag another piece of my daughter’s Halloween candy instead. But a better diet really does help. I can say that because sometimes I do actually eat well.
Yep. I do know this. Not only do I feel better after I exercise, but I can concentrate more. I listened to a SpartanUp podcast recently where the interviewee shared how his exercise program in schools was helping kids with ADD. And check out articles like this one.
Remember your “why.”
Sometimes, when I find myself daydreaming about the Spartan sprint instead of playing well with my kids, or scrolling through Pinterest instead of writing, I have to remind myself why I wanted to stay at home with my kids or have this blog. That usually gets me back to what matters. I want to raise my kids well, so I want to be with them. The same can go for friends, dating relationships, spouses, whatever.
Remember your vision for your life.
This may be hard for the people who take things one day at a time. But I invite you to visualize what you want your life to be. What do you want to accomplish in this life? Who do you want to influence? What day-by-day choices will lead into that vision, and which ones won’t? Know your vision, and you’ll know how to focus.
Set your priorities.
I’ve found that having an ever-edited priorities list nearby keeps me focused on what matters. This directly correlates with your vision for your life. My husband and I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore because it takes time away from other things we’d rather be doing. When we have priorities and we KNOW what they are, it makes it easier to recognize when we’re not sticking with those priorities.
Put away your phone.
I need to remind myself of this all the time. I try to be with my kids and not my phone. Sometimes it means I don’t respond to texts for a couple days (sorry friends and family) or even at all. But I want to be with the people I’m with. Whether that’s my parents, my husband, my kids, my in-laws, or my friends. I want to give them my attention, and that means leaving the phone on the charger in the other room sometimes.
Have a plan.
I’m a stay-at-home mom who does all this on the side. When my kids nap, I don’t have time to dilly dally. I still get distracted all the time, but I find that the days I have a short (emphasis on the short) task list for when they nap or are still sleeping in the morning, I can dive in and accomplish a lot more in the couple hours than if I had an entire day without a plan.
Use productivity tools.
I speak highly of the Pomodoro Method—25 minutes of hyper focus on one task and a 5 minute break in-between—and use a timer on my phone. It gets me moving during breaks, and I get a lot done when I batch tasks and use that timer. Maybe the Pomodoro Method doesn’t work for you, but find something that will help you hyper focus for small increments of time.
Sometimes we can’t focus because we have too much on our plates. If you can, give something you don’t do well to someone else. If you don’t have the money for that (if it were to cost), figure out how to automate it. Can’t automate it? Quit it. Use online grocery shopping if it saves you time, for example.
Clean out the clutter in your heart.
Give yourself a therapy session and figure out if there are deeper issues that distract you from what matters. Are you stressed because you said yes to a project at work you don’t have time for? Does that argument with your best friend still bother you? Is there some hurt in your past that keeps coming to the surface? Whatever it is, bring it to your attention, deal with it fully, and get it out of your head. The bigger the issues, the more outside help you may need. But don’t allow your heart issues to rule your life.
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