Newspapers report that actor Eddie Redmayne "hangs up on phone's emails" ditching his smartphone in favour of an analogue handset to help him Focus on "the now" & "live in the moment". The constant stream of email's and social media alerts meant he was permanently glued to his iPhone during waking hours. Eddie was trying to keep up in real time at the expense of living in the moment causing him to miss out on the now.
Does this sound familiar?
What I find interesting is that I already came to this conclusion a few months ago. Feeling drained and unable to keep up with the daily onslaught of emails and social media news I started to limit my time online with varying amount of success. After persevering, I have managed to wean myself off Facebook, emails and Twitter for the majority of the day so I could Focus on what was happening around me.
You will need to relearn the skill of concentration and for some, it takes time, so be patient.
7 Simple ways to maintain Focus:
Time Chunks - Pomodoro Technique or Tomato timer is a brilliant way to keep you on track, set the timer, don't stop until you hear the bell. You can start with 10-15 minutes, working your way up to 25-30mins to complete the task.
Bite size chunks - Break large tasks into smaller more manageable pieces of work. Start with the largest, hardest piece first.
How connected do you need to be? - Can you turn off your internet connection entirely? if not then use sites or Apps that will block your access for a limited amount of time. Start with a few hours and work your way up to disconnect for the morning. 3rd party apps like FocusWriter or WriteMonkey provides a distraction free environment.
Wear Headphones - Figure out what's distracting you, it could be background noise at home or in the office - Try noise cancelling headphones.
Prioritize - List what you need to do, starting with the job which has the biggest impact for you or your company. It's often the one you don't want to do so make it the first job of the day - Eat The Frog. Remember the Pareto law of 20/80 - 20% effort will produce 80% results.
Energy Levels - They fluctuate during the day, note down (over a period of a week) when they occur. When has your focus or clarity diminished or you find you are starting to get distracted. Capitalise on when you are at your most positive/productive this is the time to do the job you hate. When you feel negative or unproductive it's time to take a break.
Lifestyle choices - sometimes we just have to take a step back and look at what we are doing. Take a close look at when you eat and what you eat. Breakfast is a must, but if you cannot stomach it then ensure you have healthy snacks to keep you going until you next eat. Get some sleep, switch off your devices an hour before bedtime. Maintain a regular pattern of 6-8 hours per night. Lastly, exercise it could be short walks or an hour or two at the gym but do something which gets your heart rate up and the waist line smaller!
If you are constantly distracted with anything (work/social media/family) it will take time to learn how to get back into the "now".
Start getting into the "present" practicing it wherever you are. You could be in the car listening to music but not really hearing it or in a conversation with a family member but have no idea what they have just told you.
I was beginning to miss out on important family matters simply because I couldn't Focus or pay attention. If you feel anxious the moment your eyes open and your work productivity (& income) has plummeted to an unsustainable level you need to do something about it.
The benefits of increased concentration, less stress and improved productivity have got to be worth the effort.