Find it hard to focus? Loving sight of your goal faster than a sinking ship?

Here’s how to snap out of it.



Hi there this is Christina and today I am going to talk about focus.

Now without trying to sound like a fuddy duddy I think in this day and age, given we have so many distractions around us, a lot of them being technological distractions, we find it difficult to focus. I know, I even get it myself I’ll be sitting there reading a book and suddenly I think “ooh I better check Facebook” and I’ve only spent 5 minutes reading and it’s ridiculous because I certainly never used to be like that.

So I actually try and make concerted effort not to be like that, but we find ourselves getting caught up in this distraction over here, distraction over there and suddenly we can’t get the things done that we actually want to do.

So I’ve got several little techniques here that I wanted to talk through, the first one being time-boxing.

Now that’s just a fancy way of saying set aside time to do something and just doing during that time. So if you set aside 45 minutes to do something, then focus on that particular task for 45 minutes and then when 45 minutes is up, stop doing it and move to the next thing. That way you’ve got this allocated time and that’s your focus at that time. Let’s say you’re cleaning the house for 45 minutes don’t suddenly think “well I’ll check some emails or I’ll go out to the balcony and have a coffee”, this and that. If you really want to timebox and get it down and just get it out the way, then say okay 45 minutes that’s what I’ll focus ion, then you just jump in and get it done. That’s my first example, time-boxing.

My second example is turning off notifications. So let’s say you’re sitting at your computer and you are trying to write an email to someone and then this wonderful little ding goes off and tells you there is a Facebook notification or someone wrote something on Twitter or someone else has sent you an email. Turn those things off, because how can you write your email when you have other things popping up all over the place? The answer is you can write it but it can take you ages and it’s not gonna be as good as it would have been if you just focused on it and you didn’t have anything else happening at the same time. Sometimes easier said than done but I think if you gave it a try you’d really like it.

Next one is, and this might be a surprise to some people, stop multitasking. Stop jumping from A to B to C to D just focus on A and just do A and do it through to completion and then move to B. Now I certainly know, in my day job for example as a project manger I have to multitask I have to jump from one thing to the next to the next to the next and I can lose my focus and I can write the same sentence 10 times because I’m losing my place, because I’ve jumped from here, I’ve gone over there and now I’m coming back. So when possible, when I’m not being dragged off to meetings or having urgent questions being thrown at me, I do one thing at once because any more than that it can take 8 hours to do something that really would have taken you 45 minutes if you just focused on it and didn’t get distracted with everything else.

So that leads me on to one of my favorite techniques and I’m gonna do another blog about it because I just love it so much, but in the meantime we’re going to talk about the Pomodoro technique. Look it up if you don’t know it. What it basically means is, you set a timer for 25 minutes and you focus on one thing for 25 minutes and I mean you close the door, you turn your phone off, you don’t get up to go to the toilet, you don’t read your email half way through. You put your phone on silent you have all your notifications switched off and you actually set a timer, it goes ding and you focus for 25 minutes and it goes ding again and tells you it’s time for a break. You can take a 5 minute break or a 10 minute break and then it’ll ding again and you’ll go into your next Pomodoro sprint.

Seriously I can do probably a whole days worth of work in 4 or 5 little Pomodoro sprints because I’m focused and I’m not getting distracted by other things.

So what’s another tip? Small steps to get to the bigger goal. So what’s that saying about how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time, even though it sounds gross, the point is, if something looks too overwhelming you won’t be able to focus on it because you’ll be saying, how on earth am I going to get that done. So you take a big step back, you map it out to your small steps and you just take one step at a time so you can suddenly see the big picture and you’re seeing all the small pictures that line up back to back in order for you to get to your big picture goal.

I hope those tips have helped , there are a few of them but it’s really all about being able to just do one thing at once, focusing on one thing and getting it done. Setting aside an allocated amount of time that you’re going to dedicate to doing that particular task and just do that task during that time, don’t do other stuff, switch off your notifications and try not to get dragged away. There’s this whole movement of mindfulness – be mindful of where you are and what you’re doing and don’t be scattered and thinking “oh look a bird’s flying past I might go over and look at the bird”, because then you’ve lost focus of the task that’s at hand.

I hope at least one of those tips helps you out. So feel free to drop me a note below, let me know that resonates an what doesn’t I’m happy to have a discussion about anything and I’ll speak to you next time.

Okay, bye.