Does your mind often go blank when you should be working? Here are 8 tips for staying focused.
Ever get that feeling when your mind goes blank and you forget what you were meant to be doing? You have a million things to do but can’t remember what to do next? Yep, me too, less than I used to though. I had a breakdown in 2009, burnout caused by overworking. It was like my CPU or processor overheated and burnt out. This was a real low point of my life. Here I will share how I have rebuilt my mental capacity and feel more organised and in control than ever before.
So you wake up with a to-do list in your head and before you even start your working day you’ve double the number of tasks on your list. The phone rings, you get a status update on Facebook, a mention on twitter, you open your emails. It’s 9:30 and you’re feeling mentally tired already. It’s like powering up a laptop and asking it to perform 100 programs at once and being surprised when it goes slow.
Day to day life can be tough on your brain. Work, home, family, friends, and if you run your own business….well good luck. Does your mental “operating system” sometimes shuts down. Mine does and defaults to DOS 3.1 or even Sinclair Basic. So I have a few techniques that help me re-boot and get back up and running. Most are obvious, but I do love a good analogy so I’ll liken your conscious brain to that of a computer.
Partition your hard drive – plan your day and week.
Avoid multitasking! Get into the habit of performing different jobs and activities at different times of the day or week, the trick here is to align the job to your mental energy levels. I am a morning person, I can plan and be creative before the birds are tweeting. I’ve often made plans for the day, or week if it’s Monday, before the rest of the house wakes up and this feels great.
Knowing that I am working on my strategy Monday morning, making calls in the afternoon and clearing emails for only 1 hour per day means I feel more focused and in control. Mundane jobs that require little thought can be scheduled later in the week. Why waste mental energy on low output tasks when these can be done later?
Book tasks into your calendar or diary for clarity and to avoid procrastination.
Keep it in the cloud!
Online storage – connect your tasks and ideas online. Since I was introduced to TRELLO my life has been so much simpler. Like most people, I have a device with me almost everywhere I go. Being able to add a task, make notes, save ideas and tick them off as I go allows me to feel in control. Mobile apps are great, even the simple (and free) Google Keep works perfectly. However, there are lots of alternatives like Evernote, Wunderlist, Todoist, Remember The Milk, just have a look for yourself but DON’T overthink it!
Are there any others I haven’t mentioned?
Install a good anti-virus
Say “no” to activity that will slow you down! A 2 minute request for help. A quick look at Facebook, just checking Twitter notifications, sky sports news, another coffee, check email, anything that is a distraction or will slow you down needs to treated as a malicious threat threat and has to be avoided. All this adds up to the virus called procrastination and once this begins to infect our work program then it’s very difficult to erase and start again. Turn off all distractions (yes even emails) and set achievement goals.
Defragment your hard Drive
Tick off tasks that are complete from your list, then meditate. You don’t have to be yoga expert, or employ a hypnotherapist. A simple exercise is to move to a different, but quiet, environment for a few minutes, breathe and clear your mind. This may seem difficult, but you must put down phone down, move away from the laptop or iPad, switch the TV and radio off. Just empty your head for a minute to rest, feel clarity and benefit from more energy.
Open your Media Player Music
I have a playlist for different times of the day and to change or enhance my mindset. One with high BPM to keep energy high, Chillout to reflect and be creative, guitar or rock to increase confidence before meetings or phone calls, repetitive electronic or Electro when doing mundane tasks to maintain focus.
Note: this is my playlist and works for me, your choice will be different.
Click the Sleep button
Regular breaks for a short while avoid overheating. I like to aim for 15-20 minutes several times a day because that’s what I had when I was plugged into the corporate “Matrix” and had a real job. Walk, drink water, exercise. Just a change of scenery and shift of focus to get your energy back.
Exercising grey matter to improve focus. Evenings, weekends or even during a break I perform an activity to stimulate mental capacity. Reading a book, playing brain games, Suduko, Chess or try Luminosity to train your brain. It’s a great distraction from daily stress and improves memory and concentration. The point here is to improve mental capability. What works for you?
Sleep for 7-8 hours. I’m no doctor but I do know that lack of sleep is one of the biggest reasons for poor performance let alone illness. Our conscious brain needs rest to help recovery. I’m a member of the 6 0’clock club, a routine that works great for me. 10pm for me to get in bed and no coffee, snacks or alcohol before bed for me. I’ve studied and practiced sleep patterns so much that I haven’t used an alarm clock for over 5 years. This routine keep means I wake with lots of mental energy.
Our brain, (Central Processing Unit) is the most important component of our amazing bodies. It is the key to success whether it is in business, sport or just to live a healthy and happy life. If we overheat our processor, our functions and calculations slow down and can even stop.
I know many people who are feeling the pressure of over-work and lack of focus. I offer support and help to help gain focus to achieve their goals. The Mental programs I run are different to a few years ago. I can rest now and know when I’m burning out. Now I embrace each day (well most) with energy and focus. Seeing success in others gives me inspiration. What works for you?
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How Co-Working Can Save Your Business, and Maybe Your Life