"I don't know where to start."
Of all the phrases that I hear from health-seekers, this is one of the most common. I find that when someone expresses this sense of overwhelm, it can come from several places. Sometimes they yearn for more clarity about what they want for their life and their health. Sometimes they need information, encouragement, strategies or a process that will help them move in the direction they desire. Sometimes they just need to manage the obstacles and distractions (internal and external) that pull them off track. In all of these cases, strategies for finding and maintaining focus can help them take the next step.
Last week, I shared four practical ways to enhance a sense of focus in your daily life. Here are four more:
1) Use a "parking lot" — There is no use fighting it. Your monkey mind isn't going away, and there will always be plenty of "squirrels" to chase! So, make room for those distractions. When you get a thought that captures your attention, write it down on a physical or virtual space that you've designated for ideas on hold. You can always come back to it. Writing it down and "parking it" allows you to let it go so you can return to the priorities at hand.
2) Use a timer — A timer is another great feature to include in your "accountability structure". If you have a task to complete, give yourself a certain amount of time to devote to it. Set your timer and devote yourself to the task for the allotted time. Then move on. This works great for tasks that can easily become time-sinks like email, internet searches, or social media.
3) Carve out time for mono-tasking — Many folks feel a sense of pride at their ability to multi-task, but research suggests that our brains are not set up to work that way. You are likely to be more productive when you "mono-task", and carving time out to work this way is also a great way to train your focus.
4) Breathe — When you notice things starting to move too fast, you can intentionally slow them down again by changing your breathing. Just a few slow, deep breaths can activate the "relaxation response" in the parasympathetic nervous system - the part of your nervous system linked to rest and repair that allows you to relieve stress and be able to respond intentionally rather than react automatically to what is going on in your life.
In a world that can often feel fast-paced and overwhelming, it is good news to know that we all have the innate ability to find calm and focus. The more we practice, the easier it becomes.
I'd love to know which of these ways you've used, or other tips you've found helpful. Please share your thoughts with me below!