I’ve been hearing quite a few people talking lately about having a hard time focusing. So, I want to dedicate this post to exploring 6 ways to help you focus better.
Some of them will be good reminders and some of them may just surprise you! To help focus better, first we need to understand what’s causing our lack of focus. Is it because our mind is racing? Or is it something else? Then, we need to learn to effectively engage our sense organs. Some of us are more visual, some of us are more auditorial. Knowing who you are will help you find the easiest way to focus. Recognize though that there will be times when your typical method won’t work. When that happens, try engaging a different sense organ, a combination of several, and try a different method.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
6 secrets for better focus
1. Framing your day
Framing your day helps you start and end your day in the right mindset. Common ways to frame your day include meditation and gratitude-giving with a special release at night that lets things go. This is important because if you bring your worries and anger into your sleep, it will interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep, and leave you feeling restless the next morning. And in that case, our ability to focus will decline—even if you think that you can be productive after just a few hours of sleep. Take a look at this post to learn more.
Observe how meditation or your gratitude practice makes you feel, and consciously save this feeling in your body and mind. Come back to it during the day when you feel out of balance. The process of recreating this feeling will make your body and mind work together—and help focus you.
We call it “tratak” in ayurveda. The idea is to focus your mind on a single object and observe everything about it. Let’s take an apple as an example. Observe what it looks like from shape and texture to size and color, imagine what it tastes like, what it sounds like when you take a bite, and what it smells like. Engage all your senses to mentally describe the experience. Initially, you may choose to do this exercise with your eyes open, but as you practice more, you may find yourself gazing with your eyes closed and just visualizing the apple rather than physically looking at one.
I especially love doing this exercise with candles and gazing at the flame. Try it and leave a comment about your experience.
3. Balancing poses
This is another technique that fully engages your body and mind since you can’t balance without them working in synch.
Most people associate our inability to focus with a racing mind. However, a lack of focus can also come from too much dullness or heaviness in the mind, and a lack of desire to do anything.
Exercise is a great way to get things flowing again. Added bonus: it helps boost your digestive system, which is the secret sauce to your overall health. Balancing poses will not only make you move, but they will also help focus your mind. Afterall, who can balance on one foot or on their hands without being fully present in the moment? If you’re up for a challenge, consider closing your eyes while keeping your balance.
4. Managing energy
“How can this help focus more?”, you may ask. Lack of focus can also come from feeling overwhelmed. When we have too much to do, it’s easy to lose sight of our true priorities and send too much energy to dealing with the overwhelm. And when we do that, we often feel paralyzed and unable to focus. Here are some ideas to help deal with overwhelming situations.
But managing our energy for better focus is about more than dealing with overwhelming circumstances. It can be handy in any situation. The prerequisite to being productive is being focused. Without focus, you can’t be productive. What people often don’t realize is that productivity is not a function of time as much as it’s a function of how you manage your energy.
Why? Each day has 24 hours. Time is a constant factor we can’t change. Our energy, however, is variable. So, your level of focus and productivity will depend on how you manage your energy.
How you spend your energy sends an unspoken message about your priorities. Ideally, you want to send energy to things that are high priority and minimize your energy exertion on things that are low on your list. But too often, we end up stretching ourselves too thin, dispersing our focus in too many directions. When we align what we SAY is our priority to what we DO, we bring more focus into our lives. Read more about managing your energy here.
5. Being in the zone
Did you know that 44% of people interrupt themselves and 73% of interruptions are handled right away without any consideration for priority? (See our earlier point about priorities).
Self-interruptions are the kind of interruptions that we have full control over. You can read more about them here. I personally like to put my phone on silence and away, turn off IM and hide all alerts to help me focus. I turn off and put away all distractions so I’m not tempted to look at things that are not related to what I’m doing. And I’m doing one thing at a time.
While you can’t control other people interrupting you, there are a few things you can do to attempt minimizing them. Check out this blog for more. But if you ask me, just cutting out self-interruptions to help you focus more sounds pretty darn good to me!
6. Food for thought
As cheeky as it may sound, food does help you think. Eating the right kinds of foods at the right time in the right manner (mindfully) helps you focus better. When you’re undernourished or hungry, your blood sugar level destabilizes, your nervous system doesn’t get nourished properly and your body triggers its stress response process. Your ability to focus goes out the window.
Your turn. What are the things on this list that you’ll give it a try? Which ones have you tried before? Let us know in the comments.
Image by Ketut Subiyanto, Pexels