Is your mental focus waning? Are you finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate?
Getting and staying focused can be a challenge even in the best of times, let alone what’s happening in the world today…
And if you look around, there is evidence all over…with the burgeoning self-help industry bursting with books, blogs, videos, and TED Talks on the topic.
There’s even a site called Caveday, where the focus-challenged come together on Zoom–computer cameras switched on for accountability–all other technology put away–for deep-focus work sessions.
Among other things, participants are required to “monotask”, because multitasking distracts your brain and prevents you from entering true focus and flow.
What happens when you try to multitask is that your brain switches among tasks, requiring more brain fuel than when working or tackling a single task at a time.
The more tasks you attempt to do at any given time, the more cognitive energy you burn.
Another drainer of brain fuel is overfocusing, and on the flip side, “unfocusing” your mind, or deliberately letting it roam. This is one of the keys to improving your overall focus.
The brain works best when it’s allowed to toggle between focus and unfocus…
And to unfocus your brain, schedule into every workday some breaks from deep concentration and allow your mind to travel into what’s called the “default mode network” for a bit of freestyle riffing.
The network of brain circuitry is where the magic happens. You see, it’s the place where your mind finds innovation and creativity…and often make better decisions than the focused mind…
And you can get yourself there with the technique called “positive constructive day dreaming”.
Positive constructive daydreaming involves first turning your attention inward.
Try traveling with your mind to an enjoyable, thrilling place–maybe it’s a stroll through an imaginary forest, or sunbathing on a warm, sandy, and sunny beach.
Pair your daydreaming with some form of low-key activity such as walking, knitting, gardening, etc.
Release your mind for about 20 minutes of this fun and watch what happens!
Doing so–especially when working hard on a project–will help open up your brain’s “default mode network“.
Doing this several times a day will offer your mind a fresh approach to the task at hand.
Yet another proven way to refocus your mind is to block interruptions before diving into deep work.
Distractions are all over around us. Think of text messaging, social media alerts, email notifications, among others.
When you cut off the noise, your brain gets a chance to complete full sentences of thought.
Your important work benefits when you shut off or put away your phone and other devices. You can then schedule a time to respond after completing a session of sustained focus.
What about knowing your chronobiology?
This means knowing the time when your brain is optimally productive. Are you a lark who’s sharp and alert in the morning, or a night owl?
What is important is to be in sync with your body clock and schedule your most important projects during your brain’s peak performance period.
Resist the temptation to spend your peak brain hours doing the “busywork“. Instead, reserve your best brain time for the real, big stuff.
Even better, trying new hobbies has been found to refocus the mind in amazing ways.
Dabbling in hobbies can help you craft new solutions to everyday, typical problems.
Again, allowing your mind time to play invites innovation and creativity in ways that focusing alone can’t crack.
Last but not least, consider taking a digital sabbatical…
There’s a lot of buzz nowadays about the benefits of shutting off and unplugging your devices–and for good reasons.
Turns out, intentionally setting aside time to rest from your screens and all their inherent interruptions–is a powerful reminder that there is life outside or beyond the screens. This helps you reset your mind and think about what’s really important.
And there you’re…
If you’ve found yourself wandering mentally, try the foregoing tips…
And you never know–they might just unleash the magic you’re looking for!
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