Zoom into Focus

It is time to talk about the often elusive act of “focus.” In the middle of a global pandemic, an election, helping our children attend school from home, and missing connections with our loved ones more than ever before, how are we supposed to get anything done? Try as we might, we cannot control time. It keeps marching forward regardless of whether we are using it to its full potential. If you’ve recently found yourself sucked into social media and news headlines one too many times, watching the clock strike 5:00 with little productivity to your name… you are not alone. Although we cannot control time, the good news is that we can control how and where we spend our energy. We can create new routines to spark that focus and productivity in our lives once again.

Tune Out So You Can Tune In:

If you ever feel like your energy is depleted but unsure where it went, you may need to focus on the proverbial ‘apps you have running in the background.’ With so much high-tech in our daily lives, it can leave little energy left for high-touch. Consider the following to give yourself more battery life:

  • Give yourself a full hour to start your day before allowing yourself to check email on your phone or computer.
  • Take a walk outside and eat your lunch anywhere away from your devices.
  • Disable push notifications for social media, news, and email.
  • Leave devices in another room during meals and while sleeping. Try reading a physical book or writing in a journal in the evenings.
  • Delete certain apps entirely and relegate usage of those apps to a web browser only.

 Build A New Routine:

On our busiest days, it may feel like there is no time, but stop to think about what you may have been doing pre-quarantine. How can you use that time differently now?

  • Were you accustomed to a morning and evening commute? Instead, use this time to schedule your goals for the day. Block out some time for yourself in addition to work. Productivity can’t flourish without balance.
  • Did you previously go out for lunches or spend money on coffee and snacks? Stock your work area with foods and snacks that make you feel good; invest in a coffee machine for home and make a coffee zoom date with the colleagues you used to see in the office.
  • Are you accustomed to multitasking? Scientific studies have shown that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40%. In adjusting to the new normal of working from home, it can be easy to forget the amount of stress our brain is going through and how it can impact the tasks in front of us. Rather than continually jumping from one task to another, try to fully devote your attention to one thing for 20 minutes before transitioning into another.

Reframe your thinking:

Here are a few examples of how we can adjust the way we think about time, stress management, and anxiety.

  • “I’m feeling lonely, so time to check social media plan something enjoyable with a friend/family.”
  • “I need something positive to happen at work, so I’ll keep refreshing my email spend time making new possible opportunities happen at work.”
  • “I’m nervous about all of the chaos going on in the world, so I will need to check the news again do something that makes life feel less chaotic today.”
  • “I’m feeling bored, so I need a distraction to work on being comfortable and spending some time alone with my own thoughts.”

In a culture that is bombarded with information and stimuli, finding time void of noise can seem inconceivable. However, it is in that void that we are able to tap into the part of the brain that can process thoughts of deep significance. Give your mind the space to take in all of the information it’s received and make use of it in important ways. By making just a few small changes to our day, we can have a more intentional impact on our quality of work, focus, and life.