As I was walking around my neighborhood the other day, I came upon someone walking their dog. We stopped and chatted a bit and then she starting walking away with the dog but the little dog was easily distracted and was not paying attention. I overhead the dog’s handler say, “Come on sweetie, I need you to focus; focus puppy, focus!”. I LOVE that. A reminder to keep your focus – I wish, at times, that I had a voice reminding me to keep my focus. There are so many things vying for my attention every minute of the day that it is a miracle I get anything done.
Distractions happen and Tony La Russa wrote, “There are always distractions, if you allow them”. Are you allowing distractions to pull your focus? If you KNOW the distraction is pulling you AWAY from what you need to be doing then pause, breathe, and focus. But if the distraction is an attempt to re-direct you, then still pause, breathe, and focus, and re-evaluate.
By focusing in on the process, steps, and goals, you should be able to discern a distraction from a re-direction. A re-direct can come as an obvious, “NO!” or sometimes be hiding behind subtlety. It is our responsibility to ourselves to take time to discern and that means to pause and focus.
There are two mains tasks your brain goes through when it is focused on a task. First, visually, you take in all data and information and you process it in order to determine what requires your attention. We picture that process as if it was a blurry photo that is slowly coming in to focus, watching it come to fruition.
Second, you focus on one area in particular within the larger photo. As it comes in to focus, find one thing to look at and work on it. Then, move on to the other parts.
How many times a day are you distracted from that on which you are working? Did you know that it can take up to 25 minutes for your brain to fully return to a project once the distraction has occurred? Each time you get distracted, you’re getting more and more tired and draining yourself of energy and drive. We have so many distractions from technology to weather to other people. Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will help you maintain your focus and be able to define distractions as ‘distraction’ or a ‘re-direct’.
- Understanding WHERE Your Focus Needs to Be. This also means knowing what is WORTHY of your distraction.
- Making Sure to Randomly Unplug and Take Breaks. Step back, push back from the computer, take a walk, breathe, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. By purposely taking breaks, you are less likely to welcome and be receptive to distractions.
- Doodle. A recent study from the University of Plymouth In England shows that to help improve cognitive performance and recollection, spend some time doodling!
- Let others around you know that you need some time to focus and would appreciate their help. You can wear headphones or earplugs for a while, or pull away in to a different area of the house or a work conference space to focus on a particular project. Whatever YOU need to focus, let people know so they can help you achieve your goal.
I want to hear from YOU.
What are the distractions that occur in your day that pull you from your focus?
What steps do you take to re-gain focus?
How do you know if it’s a distraction or a re-direction?
I want to hear from YOU.
Please select an option below and share with me.