Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

Is Your Focus Losing Focus?

I noticed something disturbing about myself. My attention span is disintegrating.

As my husband shared about his day, my mind scattered like dust in the wind. Thoughts drifting like dandelion seeds in a warm breeze. I had to ask him to repeat what he said. The crazy part? I’m the one who asked him to tell me about it.

That’s not all…

When I settle down to read a book, I can’t settle. I can’t watch an entire TV show, or seem to stay on task. We learned the importance of staying on task in Kindergarten, remember? “Stays on task” was a scored behavior and I always scored an “S”. Now my “stays on task” is less than satisfactory and my kindergarten teacher would be highly disappointed.

I’m not blaming it on Attention Deficit Disorder or any other disorder, I’m blaming it on technology and a culture that encourages us to take it all in, turn it all on, keep it all going, and cram it all in until there’s no more room— no matter the cost.

I used to believe multitasking was a fantastic achievement. Juggling without dropping. An art. A skill. I had always prided myself as being the queen of multitasking. Let’s face it, most women do. In a recent psychology assignment I did some researching on multitasking. The reality is, and much to my dismay, multitasking is not the crown jewel of getting things done.

Multitasking spreads our focus so thin, though things may get done, excellence is sacrificed.

So what is the answer? Focus. Isn’t that simple?

Of course it isn’t simple. We fight a battle of real present vs. virtual present every single day. I take that back, it’s actually every single moment of every single day.

If we’re dividing our focus into parts nothing gets our whole attention. If that’s happening we can’t be fully committed.

Do you want to write that book? Finish that project? Have meaningful conversations?

Then do that. Just that.

I am working on this and you know what? It’s working.

You know the saying: “So much to do, so little time”? True. But you don’t need to do everything at once and you don’t need to do that one thing for hours on end.

Set a timer and give yourself permission to focus.

You’ll find when you give yourself permission to use a certain amount of time to accomplish a task or activity, you’ll have more peace while doing it.

None of this is new or rocket science (by the way, I actually know a rocket scientist. She’s a friend who works for NASA and she is awesome).

  • Prioritize your immediate focus and shut down the rest. Easier said? Try it.
  • Set your timer and stick to it. If you fail, reset your timer.
  • Work faster. You’ll find when you focus you can actually work faster. This isn’t about being sloppy, it’s about being focused on one task. Your battery isn’t being drained, so you’ll run more efficiently.
  • If your laundry calls when working on a project, leave the house if you can. The laundry can’t follow you to the park or coffee shop.
  • People don’t need you right this minute. Help them learn the gift of patience ;).
  • Don’t say yes to things you truly don’t have time for. Leave room on your plate. What you are meant to do needs that space.
  • Slice daily tasks into realistic time blocks. Realistic.
  • Give yourself permission to relax and read. You are not being lazy, you are learning something new or learning something new about someone else.
  • Nothing is a waste of time when we’re intentional about what we choose to do. Be intentional and choose wisely.
  • Unsubscribe to emails you never read anyway. They won’t hate you. No offense, but they probably won’t even notice.
  • Get. Enough. Sleep. Hello.
  • Most important: Prayer keeps you focused. Pray to stay focused on God, His plan, and His will.

I’m calmer now. I shut off the TV more often than not because it’s noise to me. I leave my phone in another room if I’m not expecting an important call. I try not to check my work email when I’m not working and my social media when I am working. I try not to check personal email constantly. If I win the Publishers Clearing House, they’ll arrive at the door with balloons. I’m not missing anything by using restraint. The clear and present danger is that emails send us on rabbit trails. Check email during the email time slot(s).

We all need to work on this to get the needed work done. Work doesn’t just mean outside work, it can be inside work. Inside your home, inside a coffee shop, inside yourself.

Those of you who know me know I’m a woman of faith. My faith has been an anchor. We need an anchor in our lives.

What’s your anchor?

I have a confession, I really dislike the word “schedule”. I know schedules are essential, but I just don’t like the word. Instead, I’m going to use the term “focus session”. So my calendar will say: “Focus session: manuscript writing; focus session: lunch with whomever; focus session: dishes…..”

I want to be focused on the real present, not the virtual present. I want to once again read a book from cover to cover, finish the novel, do things with excellence, and keep my attention on what matters.

Peripheral vision is precious, but let’s keep our eyes looking straight ahead and our minds engaged in what we’re doing. It can mean the difference between done half-way or half-way to being done.

Make both halves count so the whole will be excellent.

Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed right in front of you. Proverbs 4:25 (NASB)

Be blessed and be focused.

 

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