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Five Things You Can Do Today to Increase Focus

  Jason Abell     Dec 22, 2015

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As I reflect on my year at Rewire, one of the things I’m most grateful for are the exceptional new people we’ve brought on board in the past few months.  They are bringing their expertise and experience to enrich the work we’re doing and serve clients Rewire might not reach otherwise. You hopefully were able to read an article from one of these new people this past week. Joe Shaffner’s article touched on the ways that technology drives us to distraction and a few simple solutions to respond to that dynamic.


In today’s article, I want to give another simple concept and skill as one solution to the “I have too many demands on me and I’m overwhelmed” syndrome…

Focus.

When we live our lives murky, ambiguous, and unfocused, we are led in the direction that the wind (or email string, or YouTube rabbit hole) takes us. As Joe pointed out last week, this often leads to feeling overwhelmed, being way too busy, and not really getting anything meaningful done. When we focus, our work becomes rich, directional, intentional, and well… just better.

 

This is what I’m going for in my work, and this is what I’m helping clients with at Rewire. So, I’d like to offer 5 simple practices to increase focus:

  1. Make a decision to live in the present: This is literally a decision you make about how you engage with the situation in front of you as you move through the day. While there is always the temptation to allow the past or future to overwhelm our thinking in the present, the fact remains that the present is where we have the opportunity to redeem the past and shape the future.  So, the goal is to continually decide to give the present moment your attention.  On that note, if you’d like to get better at making this decision, I’d invite you to try meditation for just 5 minutes a day (and start with this excellent introduction and guide from my colleague, Edith).
  2. Put pen to paper about what’s on your mind. This is an exercise that I have practiced for the last few months which has helped me and many of my clients clear out what clutters our minds and focus on what is important. You can find out more about this exercise here.
  3. Exercise. Move your body and your brain gets focused, period. 
  4. Schedule something fun in your calendar. This exercise serves two purposes. The first is that it gives you something fun to look anticipate. When you look forward to something fun, your brain releases a spurt of dopamine that makes you feel happy and when you are happy, you are more focused. The second is that you will be having fun when you do that thing, and who doesn’t want to have fun!?
  5. Write down your goals with a pen and paper. When you put pen to paper (like a real life pen and paper - no electronics or virtual reality stuff here), your brain has no choice but to concentrate what is at the end of the pen. You are training your brain on what is important to you and what to focus on. This could be about your goals for an upcoming phone call or meeting, or your goals for the day, or your goals for the week or month or… you get the idea. Even more than that, there’s a Lizard Brain component to this practice (Remember that the Lizard Brain does everything it does to ensure survival). When you think about your goals, you are giving your brain a sense of control. And that sense of control moves us away from “fight or flight” responses and towards productive focus.

Please understand that these places to start your focus journey may be simple, but not necessarily easy. “Easy” could imply that these are short cuts or that you won’t have any resistance with implementing them, and that’s just not the way sustainable growth happens in our work.

 

But you should also know, before I sign off: you got this! Start using a few of these practices today to become more focused, and please let me know how it’s going and if there’s any way I can help.

 

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Jason Abell

Written by Jason Abell

Jason Abell is the President of Rewire. He is positively amped-up every time he sees his clients overcome obstacles that've dogged them in the past. If you're in the mood for an argument, start insulting his beloved Orioles.

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