People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.
Yes it is true, (yayyy 🙂 ), that doing more than one thing at once, is not efficient at all. I really do not like “multitasking”, as I feel like I am doing nothing with the attentiveness the task (and I) deserve. I find that I am more productive and accurate when I complete one task and then start with the next. Then I am focused on the task right in front of me, I am present in the moment, aware of working on exactly this task right here, right now.
With all the constant distraction around us, it can be challenging to stay on one task. Instagram is just a click away and oh yes, there is this cool new App I wanted to try on my phone. And there, a new message coming in. Should I take a quick look?
NO. You should not. All of this will be there when you have finished what you are doing right now. So, just say no.
Make a list
When you make a list, yes with pen and paper, your hand and brain are working together as a team. Hand to brain: “Let go, I take care of this for you. Once I have written it down, you do not have to think about it anymore and can go on with what you do best. Leading us. I can cross off all finished tasks later. This will help us both.” Brain to hand: “Thanks, then I am concentrating on the first task on our list now and tell all cells to do the same.”
Structure really does the trick. And the feeling when you can cross something off your list?! Priceless.
Block your time
Make a commitment. Commit to one task. Yes, this is about structure again. If you block a specific time for this one task, you do not have to make so many decisions later as time, date and task are set. Great trick, brain, thanks.
A little over a year ago I started to get up earlier, in order to plan my day. To define priority tasks and block time for them. This does not mean that nothing ever comes between me and my plan, but I am more focused on what is important for the day and I know exactly how much time I have (left). This structure is essential for me in my creative business.
When I just started my working career, I could work on something for hours without looking up. And yet, this did not last over the years. With growing experience the more complex tasks found their way to my desk and this strategy stopped working for me. I felt drained and exhausted in the evenings. And felt like I did not get anything really done this day.
So, I started taking breaks regularly. Lunch break is the most important break for me as this is my least productive time. I work on a task or project for 45 – 60 minutes and then take a short break, where I take a few mindful breaths and/or enjoy a cup of tea. And after four hours I take a longer break (like a lunch break). This really has helped me increase focus and, at the end of the day, productivity.
Mind you, I sometimes still keep forgetting to pause, but every day is a new chance. And I start fresh. And decide to pause.
Yes, like anything else, practice repeatedly. You will succeed one day, and fail another day and you keep on going. (Moderate) exercise helps, too. It helps reduce stress, makes happy (if you find something you like) and has a positive impact on our brain function. Therefore, it helps with focus and concentration, too.
And you can draw or “tangle”. Like I do. Zentangle is a mindful drawing method, that takes you step by step to a beautiful drawing with only allowing one line at a time. And, automatically, you focus on one single step. You are present, focusing on what is right in front of you. This is it. Focus.
Find out more about Zentangle and start drawing with a great library of Tangle Patterns. If you want to learn this wonderful mindful drawing technique, search for courses near you. There are Zentangle Teachers (CZT) all over the world.
My book about this technique was published in German. If you or your friends speak German, be sure to check it out.
And there are drawing challenges, you can contribute to, all over the Social Networks. And with this drawing I contributed to Hanny Nura Waldburger’s lovely #fullmoonmosaic on Instagram. Be sure to check out Hannys beautiful Zentangle Creations and Patterns at zenjoy.ch.