How do we stay focused?

How often do we find ourselves intent on accomplishing a difficult objective, getting something done, or even checking off a routine task and immediately our minds begin to wander off? I mean, it is sometimes as if we are battling an unseen force of evil robbing us of our drive and energy with no physical enemy to defeat, only the effects of its attacks. We sit down to write out bills and get caught up in a funny YouTube video. We swore we would cut the grass and then that one thing we have been looking for in the garage forever just popped up. We had a grocery list, but we ran into Karen from the office.

Thanks Karen.

So how do we overcome this hurdle to succeed in what we believe? What is a good balance of work and play to stay motivated? Surprisingly, achievement is more habit related than mysteriously aligning stars.

  1. Accomplish activities requiring a creative approach first. Creativity takes focus and focus takes energy. We often dismiss the creative actions required and instead opt for homeostatic (maintaining stability) activities which commonly require little challenge and thus little reward. Too many mundane tasks before a challenging one and we must ask ourselves, are we really engaged at this point?
  2. Engage with our time wisely. It is easy to begin a task and find another, more interesting task shortly after. Part of staying on-task is isolating non-priority functions. This includes eliminating the cell-phone time wasting activities like social media when the focus is not on social media. Creation and consumption do not often co-exist amicably. If a plumber shows up to fix our pipes, are we paying him to check Facebook? If we’re expecting something from ourselves, we need to hold ourselves accountable just like we would someone we hire. That is self-accountability.
  3. Engage our minds like a machine. We often hear our minds are like computers in that we have short term memory (RAM), long term memory (Hard Drive) and programming. Over time, most computer programs are written and then updated with the intention of the program becoming better adapted to the hard drive and the RAM. Well like our computer programs, our minds are almost constantly attempting to improve functions we perform every day. Perhaps we drove to work using long term memory and barely noticed the fact we got into our cars and traveled. In reality, most times we perform a habitual routine we notice it less and less and it’s “normal behavior.” Well, when I try to stay on task, I do several things that work for me such as listening to lofi HipHop or Jazz. I almost always have a nice cup of coffee and at least one notebook to scribble my random weird thoughts onto so I can review and make sense of them later. This promotes motivation through repetition and process improvement.
  4. Task organization leads to objective accomplishment. Writing everything down can assist in a variety of ways from the formulation of task organization to final objective accomplishment.  Creating a list of goals and breaking those down into individual task objectives does wonders for our habits and routines. Its crazy to think our performance can change simply because of how we choose to view a set of requirements but it is quite common for a series of smaller events to culminate to a larger production than it is to force a huge change and expect all the tertiary effects of our task orientation to instantly take place.

Keeping focused is more a habit formed through routines than it is function chosen to be performed. It is through the adjustment of repeated habits and behaviors we find not only what we are doing that is working best but we are also afforded the opportunity to make small improvements to bring us even more achievement.

Let’s have a discussion. Please leave your answers in the comment section below.

  • What are some of your successful habits and behaviors when you need to stay focused?
  • What is the greatest strain you encounter to staying on task?
  • What is an example of how you overcame resistance to achievement by implementing a successful habit or behavior?

Thank you all for Liking and Subscribing to this Blog so you can be notified of future updates on Thursday mornings. Have a great day and stay focused!

You’re Welcome. Internet.

This post was heavily influenced by Core – RL Grime

Photos by from FreeImages

Music Credit: “Music: https://www.purple-planet.com

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