Updated: Apr 2, 2019
The main topic this week for my Summer Challenge group is focus and re-focus. We usually start our day with a plan in mind and then that one little thing happens (something I like to refer to as "life") that pushes us clear off our path and into a ditch. When this happens, we have two choices: 1. Stay in the ditch and allow ourselves to get covered in debris. 2. Get out of the ditch and back on to the path. More times than not we tend to stay in that ditch and let the debris of life continue to cover us until it’s too hard to pick ourselves up to get back on the path. This is where focus and re-focus come in to play.
Focus is a lot harder than you think. We are constantly distracted by our phones, TV, people around us and other interruptions… or as I call it, “squirrel brain.” Let’s be honest, how many times have you gone online to look up something, for example, how many TBS are in a cup, then an hour later you find yourself reading about how in an aquatic traffic jam, alligators will give manatee the right of way, and before you know it, you can’t remember why you hopped online if the first place! GUILTY!!
Focus is a challenge of establishing and defining your priorities. You will find it more difficult to stick to your mission if you don’t have or want a particular outcome. That is where starting out your day with a written plan of action comes in to play.
Attention comes from intention. Focus demands a clear purpose.
Start your morning with your plan of action.
Write down goals, values and priorities.
Write down 3 things you want to accomplish that day.
Review your list and cross off everything you were able to accomplish. If you have items left over, add them to the top of the list for the next day.
Write down 3 things that you were proud of that you did that day.
Write down 3 things you want to accomplish tomorrow – this will be your new list for the next day that you will review first thing in the morning.
Often we find ourselves making decisions that feel impulsive or compulsive. A great example of this would be breaking in to that box of cookies you found hiding in the cabinet. Before you decide to give in to that compulsion, ask yourself if giving in to that impulse would be in-line with your goals.
What do I want right now? (In this example, it would be the cookies)
What do I ultimately want? (To improve my health, be proud of myself and to look good naked!)
Am I willing to sacrifice my goals for what I want right now? (Do I want those cookies more than I want to look and feel good in a bathing suit?)
Could I wait a little while? (If you were to set a timer for 2 minutes, take a walk, call a friend, etc. could that little bit of distraction change your focus away from those cookies?)
Always have a plan of action!
Before you go to the grocery store, make a list and stick only to that list. Only give yourself 15 minutes to get in and out of the grocery store (set a timer on your watch!). In doing so, that will keep you out of the middle aisles where all the bad food items lurk!
At work, if you know that it’s donut day, avoid the breakroom! Out of sight, out of mind!
Eating your meals at the table vs. in front of the TV. If you’re a late-night TV snacker, don’t eat while on the couch while watching TV. This will unconsciously cause you to associate couch/TV with food which leads to mindless snacking.
Anticipate impulsive situations and plan for them ahead of time with a way to keep your focus on your priorities during these types of situations.
Practice the art of re-focus.
Find a way to help re-focus your attention to your goals and priorities when you get distracted. This could be something simple like:
Writing down your 3 main goals on a piece of paper and keeping it with you in your pocket.
Keeping your list in sight on your desk or fridge. Perhaps there’s a really awesome outfit that you’d love to fit in some day or a trip you’ve been dreaming of, cut it out and put it where it can be a constant reminder!
Set alarms or reminders on your phone to go off at certain times of the day where you find yourself most distracted.
Set your TV to turn off at a certain time or if you spend way too much time on your phone, download an app such as Moment or Flipd that track how much time you spend on your phone and allows you to set daily limits on yourself that will force you off if you’ve spent too much time.
Anticipate distractions and plan ahead! Don’t feel like you need to incorporate all of these tasks in to your daily life in order to succeed. Pick one that seems doable, try it for a week, master it and when you feel like it’s an engrained habit, pick something else to add to your focus arsenal!