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Wake up. Shower. Get dressed. Make breakfast. Get the kids ready. Grab coffee! Go over daily plans with family before leaving the house. Drive to school or work. Prepare for the day’s events. Check the clock, and it’s only 8:00 a.m…on a normal day in our always busy life.
Sound familiar? Strike a chord? You’re not alone. Our daily lives are flooded with constant advertisements popping up in front of us; all while we are sprinting through our schedule trying desperately to complete every task we have attempted to shove into 24 hours. Naturally, we attempt to be a “multi-tasker” equipped with octopus arms, at best. In reality we find ourselves struggling with the right level of focus required for any one of our set tasks. We are all on the “hard to focus” struggle bus together.
A recent Harvard Business School survey team surveyed 1,000 professionals about their work week, and the results are quite alarming. A 50-hour work week was normal for 94% of people and more than half claim to work more than 65 hours each week. Smartphone users in the group resulted in 13.5 hours per day that they were connected to work related items. More than half reported that their amount of sleep each night was around 6 hours or less.
But we are smarter than that. The same energy we use to cram in work tasks, social media, news feed reading, family time, etc. is the same energy waiting to be used in preparing ourselves for the laser focus required to not only complete our day, but to do it with excellence. Here are a few small tips which can fuel you towards excellence in your day:
FOOD and WATER: What part of our anatomy is the driving force of focus? That’s correct, your brain is the muscle behind it all. Just like our other living parts, which need feeding, our brains need the proper fuel too. Some would say our brain is the most important thing to feed properly. Here are several foods to consider when thinking about feeding yourself brain fuel:
- Blueberries aka “Brainberries”
- Wild Salmon
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seed, and unhydrogenated nut butter aka peanut butter
- Whole Grains
- Coffee or freshly brewed tea
- And every date night’s favorite – dark chocolate
Let’s not forget about water. Our bodies are composed of nearly 90% water. Placing these foods and water in strategically thought out places such as your office, your car, or spots in the house will help you in the convenience section. Don’t let the tank run on empty.
MUSIC: Psychologist have studied and stated that music can both empower and distract. Think about how you felt the last time you were watching an intense scene of a movie that gripped to the point where you felt like charging the bad guys along with the Avengers! Was there music in the scene? Of course there was. Here’s the kicker. Did the music have lyrics? Most likely not. Our brains are beautifully created to pick up information at lightning speeds and engage with that information or store it. When we hear lyrics our brain begins to engage even more to the music than it did with only the music, therefore pulling us away slightly from what we need to focus on. Try out an instrumental only playlist and see what task you can conquer or “Avenge”.
NATURE: Our food, water and vitamin intake are a huge piece of the focus puzzle, but there are more options out there for you. Oxygen and blood flow throughout your body are the flowing highways which deliver energy and focus to the brain. What better place to get both than the one place which can deliver that, and much more: mother nature! The next time you feel like you are slowing down, dragging, or the “itis” is kicking in after lunch, get up and take a walk outside. Just a short 5 minute walk around the block in the sunshine will increase the blood flow to your brain, oxygen levels from your lungs to the rest of your body will go up and a very important energizing vitamin, Vitamin D, will be delivered right to your body and brain so fast that it will make Amazon Prime delivery jealous. Need to lift the fog or open up the highways to your brain? Walk it out!
CHECKLIST: When it comes to taking steps to ensure you will definitely get something done there’s not much that tops the good ole trusty checklist. We humans love to stuff our day full of tasks, much like a suitcase before we go on a cruise vacation. We tend to put more than we need/can handle in one day. One trick that can help you stay on task and not forget what needs to be accomplished before hitting the pillow at night is a well-organized checklist. My wife, Niki, is the champ at these things! The night before she will take 5-7 minutes and write down all of the tasks she needs to complete the next day, not next week, or next month, the next day only. Beside each task line she places a small box next to it so she has the opportunity to check that item off once it’s complete. Those little boxes do HUGE things for her confidence level as the day goes on. She sees those little boxes filling up with check marks and each one gives her a boost of energizing confidence that she’s sleighing her day, like a boss!
TECHNOLOGY: Our functionality is now co-dependent with the touch screen. We have access to so much information, so much convenient control, so much organization and yet so much distraction right in our pockets or purses. Technology is not entirely a bad thing. We could all use some scheduled time with and without it though.
A good tip is to take an inventory of all of the technology you are exposed to in one day’s time. During that day, when do you require the most intense focus? During that time period take all of the honestly unneeded technology and place it in another room. If your phone makes that list, maybe a heads up message out to anyone who might call or text could read “Hey there. I’m about to enter a mode to finish our quarterly report. From 8:30-9:30 my phone will be in time out while I crush this report. In case of an emergency during this time please contact Jim.”
Be the technology puppeteer, not the puppet.
TIME: Time is our biggest hurdle. There just simply isn’t enough sometimes. However, if you know how to leverage it, time can be your best teammate. Schedule a set amount of time to start and finish a set task i.e. one hour to write that report, or 30 minutes to read the latest news in your industry, or 45 minutes for exercise. The set time is up to you and up to the size of your task. The bigger the task, the more time you need to set. Once you’ve identified that time, set a timer. Ready – Set – Go!
It’s important to mention that these tricks are not cookie cutter for everyone. Plan ahead using these tricks in ways that they will fit into your own unique and awesome life. Each of them are moldable to be catapulting tools for your focus, how you need it, and when you need it. Remember, we are not controlled by our day; we are in control of our day!
Download our Fast Track to Focus Check List Here
To Your Success,