Over the past year, I have really begun to focus on the importance of being present and appreciative of the beauty that surrounds me at all times. This beauty can come in many different shapes, sizes and overall forms and is not always a static object. It can include the morning sunshine as it just starts to peek-up for the first time today. Or, the presence of a stranger who you strike up a conversation with while waiting for a bus or in line at the market. These special moments, feelings and experiences can be so powerful that just one of them can make your entire day or even week. Although these moments are happening constantly and all around us, It takes the willingness to pay the attention that is needed to fully experience and enjoy these moments. Think back to a first date that you have had in the past. You go out to dinner, which is of course the main event of the night. Here, you have hours of deep conversation and later can think back and appreciate that this is largely due to the additional focus or present state of awareness you had when meeting with this new potentially special person in your life. This awareness and focus is often given in new settings, situations or around new people, but can easily become discarded in everyday life.
With all of the current distractions and people, businesses, technology etc, fighting for your attention, this can become even more difficult. Our attention continues to become more and more valuable as we have increasingly more options of how to spend our time, or more importantly our focused time = attention.
If you are like me at all and find that you are easily distracted by whatever is around you or the next shiny object, you may find staying attentive a very difficult at first. I have however, found some strategies that help even the extremely distractible of people like myself, to stay focused and attentive more easily. Here I will review 3 strategies for for practicing or creating more focused time or attention throughout your day.
Strategy #1 Avoiding the “Multitasking” Myth and Limiting Inputs.
Although some people are completely convinced that they are great multi-taskers, there is some interesting research that suggests what’s actually happening is rather quick task-switching. The problem with this, is we lose focus, momentum, train of thought and simply just time by switching tasks. If we can therefore, focus on one specific tasks until that task is complete or a specific amount of time has expired.
For this, I like the Pomodoro Technique. This is simply breaking up work tasks into 25 minute chunks where you focus on 1 task only, followed by a 5 minute “active” break. During this “active” break, the goal is to move your body physically around through space. This can be standing, stretching, walking in place, push ups, squats, or anything else that gets your body moving for 5 minutes.
Also, this is a good time to limited inputs including distractions like, text messages, email, Facebook, social media, or anything else that pulls you away from the 1 task at hand.
Strategy #2 "Work Harder On Yourself Than You Do On Your Job." -Jim Rohn
Over the years, I have learned many things about myself including the fact that I am inherently lazy, and will come up with any excuse possible to avoid the tasks that help me to improve but require some discipline, like exercise. So, after experimenting with differing approaches for improving my consistency, I have found that making time for the activities such as, exercise, journaling, reading and meditation is great in theory but not as easy in practice. That is, unless I make time for and schedule these in, they will not happen. So, for me, these all important tasks that are meant to improve myself MUST happen before I do anything else especially work. That way, once I come home from work, I have already accomplished all of the things that I wanted to for that day which will bring me one step closer to each of my goals in self improvement. This Morning Routine has taken me some time to get used to, but has been one of the best improvements I have made over the past few years. I have shifted my wake and sleep times to accommodate this new schedule, which for me has my day start at 5am and end at 9pm.
Strategy #3 Practice Mindfulness, Meditation or Just Being Present
Being present and attentive to what is going on right now is such an important skill that it is worth practicing to improve upon. This seems obvious, but for me was not something that I regularly spent time doing. I just thought that I could turn on my attention at will and let it go when whatever I was doing seemed boring or uninteresting. So, after hearing person after person talk about improved present state awareness and reduced anxiety from practicing being present, mindfulness, meditation, etc, I decided to give it a try. I have been using an app called Headspace for a couple months now which is a short guided meditation done most days of the week. I currently do 15 minute sessions once per day and continue to be amazed at the benefits I feel. This includes reduced anxiousness, improved present state awareness and has given me a tool for being more aware of thoughts and emotions as transient, which reduces any negative affects associated with these. I am still new to this but am excited to continue to learn more and continue to grow with this practice.
Now, everyone is different in what they want out of life and what constitutes as a successful day. Therefore, it may take a different approach or focus to get to the goals that you have laid out for yourself. As for me, using the 3 above mentioned strategies, I have been able to massively increase the number of successful days for myself and taken leaps forward to my person life goals. I hope that you find some of these strategies and information useful in your own journey!
P.S. I would love to hear if you do any of the strategies I have listed or if you have found your own that work good for you!
Author : Jordan Proudfoot
Here are my thoughts and insights into fitness and wellness to be the best you possible.