Be master of your mind rather than be mastered by it. ~ Zen
Distractions seem to rule our lives.
The world around us is a constant bombardment of information, noise and entertainment. This constant data stream from our phones, computers, mobile devices; in fact, electronics are in front of our eyes all day (and night).
This information onslaught has one purpose; to gain control of our attention and resources.
The result is we live distracted lives and our ability to focus, create and accomplish suffers greatly. It can lead to errors in judgment and careless mistakes. It can also feed procrastination because everything takes longer to do.
The distractions are not going to go away.
The responsibility is ours to live more focused and attentive.
The habit of focused attention starts by cultivating this focus during the good times, when things seem a bit lighter. This alive and alert mindset becomes reflex during stressed times.
Steps to Cultivating Focus:
Listen: Practice this when having a conversation with someone. Really listen, as listening is great training for sharper focus. Then practice listening when you are having conversations with yourself (we all have them!). When you find your mind going off on a tangent, observe it without judgment. Work on bringing yourself back to the moment. This can be as easy as bringing your attention back to your breath. Relax your breathing, taking deeper, slower and shallower breaths. This will oxygenate your brain and heighten focus.
Along this same line is becoming and being mindful. This includes eating habits. Practice eating mindfully. Learn and practice conscious eating by taking the time to nurture yourself. Make your own food, sitting down to meals, practicing gratitude and then mindfully enjoying it.
Move: Any form of exercise triggers mindfulness which eventually translates into what you do in daily life. Exercise is like moving meditation. Exercise doesn’t have to be regimented, it can include any movement. For some, cleaning house is exercise. Take it a step further. Remove physical clutter as this often pulls our attention away from important tasks. Reinvent tasks and make them new and exciting. This exercises your mind and helps dispel mental clutter.
Just Do It: Most distraction begins in the land of shame and guilt. Endeavor to not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Concentrating on those things you can’t do will only lead to procrastination and loss of focus. In addition, our lives can be distracted by so many unfinished projects. Often we can complete these projects in far less time than we think. Time yourself, how long does it really take to hang up your clothes from the night before? If a project can get done in less than two minutes, than just do it!
There is no doubt that our world is filled with constant distraction. It always has been and always will be. Those who achieve success have learned to focus their attention, become mindful, and then manage and navigate these distractions effectively.
Do you have any tips on cultivating focus? Please share!
Great article. Sometimes making a list of priorities can help me focus on what it is that I think is important!