Humans very much follow the same patterns. A body in motion likes to stay in…
Focus and revaluate your priorities
We’ve all had those days where one email sent is followed by a lengthy scroll through Instagram. A small tea break ends up down a YouTube rabbit hole.
These days may also feel like they’re becoming more frequent now that WFH life is the new norm but they don’t make us feel good.
Despite a to do list the length of your arm, you just can’t seem to get your brain to focus. Don’t worry, we are here to show you how to give your brain the pickup that it really needs. Keep reading to find out the top 3 reasons why you can’t concentrate, and how to combat them.
Reason 1: Your emotions, along with everyone else’s, are riding high.
Your emotional state is directly tied to your focus level. As much as we all like to leave our personal problems outside the office door; when life is tough outside of work, it is guaranteed to make it tough inside of work too. The same works as vice versa!
Starting with the negative, even if it’s not your own bad news, it will always have a knock-on effect to your own personal worries. Of course, everyone wants to stay informed, but studies show that negative TV news is a significant mood-changer, and the moods it tends to produce are sadness and anxiety. Studies also show, that this change in mood exacerbates the viewer’s own personal worries, even when those worries are not directly relevant to the news stories being broadcast.
Whilst the study is relevant to public broadcasting in particular, any bad news whether it be your families or your friends, will send you into a downward spiral that makes it very difficult to focus.
On the other hand, when you receive good news, irrespective of the source, your body will release adrenaline. If you read our blog last week, you will know about the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which describes that too much arousal has an adverse effect on our performance, making concentration difficult.
Solution 1: Be at one with your thoughts.
Many people naturally try to supress their emotions as a tactic to overcome them, however experts show that it’s actually best to acknowledge them in order to move on. Ask yourself what it is that’s distracting you, whether it’s excitement or worry, and simply by realising what is making your emotions heightened, will allow you to park those feelings, and come back to them later when you have time, or are with people that you can offload to.
Reason 2: You simply don’t want to do what you need to do.
In last week’s blog we spoke about inertia, the exact reason why you might give yourself 101 reasons not to go to the gym and to sit on the sofa eating chocolate instead. In other words, our it’s body’s way of attempting to avoid by procrastinating.
If you aren’t exactly excited by what you’re about to do, you’re going to try as many ways as possible to put it off. You may think that getting all your admin done first will make you feel like you’ve had a productive start, but this isn’t going to help us achieve our long term goals. We need to focus on the bigger tasks, even if we feel like we don’t want to. Of course, if every task in your job feels like a chore, then perhaps it’s a separate issue of needing to move on however if it’s just plain old procrastination, we are here to tell you what you don’t want to hear.
Solution 2: Get it done!
Have you ever read the book, Eat that Frog? It’s the task that you’re putting off, that is the most important one to get done, so get it done first! Tackle your biggest task, at the beginning of every day. Why? Because then the worst is behind you without having much time to have even contemplated it, and the rest of the day is all of a sudden much less daunting. Everything else will seem much easier in comparison to the big task you’ve just completed, meaning your focus is much more likely to last you through to the end of the day.
Reason 3: You’re attempt at multi-tasking is failing.
Sometimes multi-tasking is advantageous, but the fact is, a lot of the time it really isn’t. Often, when we feel we have too much to get through before the end of the day, we struggle to focus on one task at a time. This means we are constantly distracted from the current task, by beginning, or even just thinking about the next. Interrupted work causes more stress and anxiety, and as per the above point, leads to a reduction in productivity.
Whilst you may feel like you can get more done when multi-tasking, research has shown that you may be faster at what you do, but you won’t get as much done. With so much on our mind, but no organisation of what is most important, and when it’s going to get done, we can often feel like we’re drowning and not getting anywhere.
Solution 3: Find, Sort, Do!
With the pressure and stress of the modern day, we have quite literally trained our brains to be unfocused, by attempting to multi-task too often. It is really challenging for those who aren’t used to it, to focus on one thing at a time.
Our software is here to help daily life find that flow. By finding all your actions and tasks, and placing them in the FIND column, you have a much better understanding of the work you want to get done. Simply by offloading this onto the software, will relieve huge amounts of stress. You can then categorise these tasks in the SORT column, to make sure you’re spreading your time across work, life and health evenly. The DO column then allows you to chunk these tasks into days, and prioritise what you need to get done today, and what can be left until later that week.
Once you have your day set out for you, find the most important task that needs doing and then get rid of all distractions. Put your phone away, close down the emails tab and make sure you have 90 minutes free to get your head down and get on with it. Using time chunks will help you to be productive because it creates a sense of urgency rather than feeling like you have the whole day. When 90 minutes are over, you can enjoy your break knowing that you’ve had a productive session and take some time to relax and refocus.
Since life has started to come back post pandemic, as happy as we all are, it is very normal to be feeling overwhelmed by the sudden increase of activity. Even if you can’t relate to any of the above problems, it is pretty common that you’ll feel unfocused at some point over the next few months. We hope that the above solutions will help you to re-focus but we also want to remind you that some days will always be less productive than others. We put so much pressure on ourselves to constantly be productive, but what feels like a super urgent task, isn’t often as urgent as we make it out to be. So remember, to step back every now and then and revaluate your priorities.