Staying Focused … Oh look a Squirrel
Staying Focused for many people is one of the most difficult obstacles to over come. At times when you are trying to complete just about any task your mind wanders and the distractions come easily. Sometimes it is from lack of motivation. Other times it is just because you are stuck spinning your wheels. Luckily there are a few simple steps you can follow that will help you to stay focused and motivated to get that task completed. It may not be easy the first time but after you get the first task accomplished the next one will be all that much easier.
Clear All Unnecessary Distractions
Distractions are a huge problem with it comes to staying focused. Sometimes being distracted is a good thing. It can help to clear your mind and possibly reduce stress. Other times being distracted can prevent you from getting s task accomplished and staying focused. Which could then lead to more procrastination and more stress because you are not getting the things done that you are working toward.
Clearing the clutter of distractions around you can help you to stay focused. Some people say you need to clear the distractions completely from your life. Maybe they are right more than likely it is a balance between the distractions and removing them. There are certain things that I am not willing to give up. Like oh say television. I really quite enjoy watching different shows. Somehow I always seem to end up on the Food Network.
The first thing you need to do is identify what the distractions are that keep you from staying focused.
Just to get your mind flowing here are a few distraction I have identified.
Television – I am not going to stop watching but have modified my television viewing
Internet – this is s a little more difficult since I have access to it all the time – See Breaking old habits
Video Games – I switched from playing games that took a lot of time to arcade style games that are quick to play. Just for a little break at times
Drama – Drama can be one of the most damaging things to confidence motivation and focus. It can not always be avoided but you can control how you react to it and whether you participate in it or not.
Keep a Journal
For me writing things down has made it much easier when working on staying focused. Especially writing goals down so that I can keep track of my progress. One of the things that you need to figure out is are you a digital or analog person. If you like the feel of paper then stick with that if you are a digital person and are happy typing. There are plenty of places that you can keep track of things on line.
I use Google Docs a lot for this. This makes it so that I always have access to my notes and easy to share documents with people if I need to do that. If you are a paper person then get yourself a nice notebook or a journal book. It is nice to have it all together in one place. Make it something that is easy for you to carry around with you.
I would recommend that you write in it every day. You may not have to come up with new ideas to put in it. Writing down your progress on the goals that you have set will help you to stay focused and possibly even come up with some new ideas. It will also give you some organisation and a sense of accomplishment. The better you feel about things the more you will be able to achieve.
It would also be helpful to write down other things in the journal. Anything about your life that you are proud of or feel that you need to improve upon. These items could include
It can include anything you want. These are just some examples of what I use.
Break Old Bad Habits and Create New Good Habits
Habits are one of the hardest things to change. They are called habits for a reason. Research has shown that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. In my experience it takes longer than that or at least it feels longer to break a bad habit. It is not a good idea to just try to brake an old habit. You should replace it with a good habit. This will increase your chances of success. Leaving a void will just make you want to stick with that old bad habit.
Lets say you wan to decrease the amount of money you spend each month. We can replace that habit of spending too much money with making a habit to save more money. A good habit that most of us may want to achieve. For me it was buying too many “designer” coffees. I call them liquid candy bars. They are oh so good. I was getting way to many of them each week. I was spending about $20 a week on these things.
While I liked them I did not realize how much I was spending on them till I actually sat down and figured out how many I was getting a week. It was just habit for me to stop and pick one up as I drive by every day. So I decided to just drink the black coffee (which I like as much as the liquid candy bar) and then force myself to drive by the coffee shop. The good habit I developed with the help of my bank. So that it looked like my account was going down the same amount as before. I set up an automatic transfer of $20 each week to move money from my checking account to my savings account. Not a huge change but it has made a difference.
The key here is to figure out your bad habit(s) you want to change and come up with a good habit to replace it.
Surround Yourself With People That Have Similar Goals
People with similar goals are going to help you get to the point of staying focused more quickly. If you are around people that have no interest in what your goals are then they are going to become a distraction rather then helpful.
This can be very difficult to do. A good example of this is pro athletes. How many times have you heard about a player that has made millions of dollars during their career file for bankruptcy. Some numbers say as many as 50% of the players in pro sports run out of money with in 5 years of retirement Part of the problem they are finding is that the players were never able to identify the friends from their past that were really just money friends. If someone that you have been around for a long time either in a relationship or a friend from long ago is bringing you down. As hard as it is if you want to stay focused and reach your goals you may have to make the choice to move on from them.
Break Up Your Task in to Smaller Tasks
If you have a large goal it may be very difficult to stay focused. The end result may seem out of reach. If you break the task up in to smaller tasks you will get that rewarding feeling much sooner and it will help you to stay focused on the end result.
Say your task is to write a 100 page paper. One Hundred pages is a lot. At least for me it is. But if you brake it up into smaller chunks then you can set many smaller goals. It is easier to get to 5 pages then to 100. Another thing that you can do by braking things up is to allow yourself to take brakes and to reward yourself for hitting the goal. Rewards are remarkable motivators no matter how small the reward is. I love to play arcade style games. So while I was writing this every time I got one of the sections done I played a game of Candy Crush. I know silly right? Not really it actually worked and I was able to get this done.
None of the stuff in this post is ground braking. But sometimes when working on staying focused you have to see it a few times to have it sink in. I hope that some or all of the tips helped. Drop me a note in the comments if any of these were helpful to you.
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