I wake up every morning and turn on my coffee maker. It’s my morning ritual. Sometimes I don’t feel the need for coffee, but I make some anyway just in case I might want a cup or two later in the morning. Without the smell of coffee in the air, it is difficult for me to focus on anything because I’m so used to that routine.
For many today, their habits and routines are destroying their focus. The last thing they do before going to sleep is to check for emails or notifications and then it’s the first thing they do when waking up in the morning. Sound familiar?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. In survey after survey, executives are reporting more anxiety and distractions than ever before. Their leadership is affected, your day feels unproductive, and no amount of coffee can solve the problem.
Here are the two issues we face when it comes to focus destruction:
Hyper-connectivity. The average person consumes digital content in some way for 12 hours per day. That’s double the amount of time many people sleep. It’s difficult to stay focused when we have virtually no time to recharge the mind, refocus our efforts, or even just process the information we’ve received during the day.
Meaningless interaction. Some employees spend up to 55% of their productivity time in meetings. This default form of communication with one another creates activities that most people will ultimately find to be meaningless. Now here’s the catch: when you’re in a group chat or a comment chain online, you’re really just having a meeting. It’s just a digital one instead of having everyone sit around a really big table in a really stuffy room.
For this to change, we must all focus on restoration in some way. I know when I can stay focused with the smell of coffee lingering in the air, there is an impressive amount of work that can be accomplished. In order to maintain that focus, I do my best to keep these “focus repair tools” readily available.
#1. Mindfulness. There is a lack of focus today because many of us have lost touch with ourselves. I know it’s easy to focus on others first when you’re checking in with family and friends online to see how their day has been. That’s important stuff – but so is checking in with yourself to see how your day has been. I like to give myself 20-30 minutes each day to do this through mindfulness meditation. Some days I don’t meet that time goal, but that’s okay. It’s the effort which counts more than the actual amount of time spent.
#2. Organization. I’ve been guilty of being disorganized throughout most of my life. Like many, I thought I was being organized, but what I was really doing was allowing everyone else to book appointments into my daily calendar. Instead of taking care of my to-do lists each day, I was taking care of everyone else. You need dedicated time to focus on yourself in order to be creative.
Then there needs to be a focus on boundaries. I feel more refreshed and confident when I decide to set aside my online connections for a few minutes every day. That break gives me time to process the information I’ve received, grab a cup of coffee if needed, and then jump back into the rest of my day.
Find your cup of coffee. Take control of your schedule. Get in touch with yourself each day. When you can do this, you’ll find that it will be very difficult to destroy your focus.
How have you worked to regain your focus in this age of information? I’d love to hear how your ideas or how you’ve implemented the strategies discussed above.