Focus on Focus

I am often accused of having what my spouse calls ‘conversational whiplash’ which means I can (and often do) jump from topic to topic with no real segue. It’s not that I mean to jump from thing to thing but that my mind is racing so fast, that I have trouble (especially in a relaxed state) calming the associations my mind makes.


I admit, this often happens to me when I am trying to work on a project. I have trouble with focus. Perhaps you do as well. Here are my steps for helping me to remain focused on my task.

1. Get enough sleep – Everyone requires a different amount of sleep. Like the story of the Three Bears, it is important to find the amount that is ‘just right’ for you. A mind that has not had enough sleep will be scattered and lethargic. Set a regular bedtime and a set wake up time and stick to it.

2. Have a well-defined goal– It is imperative that you have a well-defined goal. As I have stated many times, you will not when you arrive, if you are unsure of where you are going. Know what you want and have a plan for getting there.

3. Break your goal into manageable steps – It is one thing to know your goal is to build a house. However, to accomplish this goal takes the planning to know each step along the way and the proper order of execution. Keep your eye on the overall goal but plan for the part you are doing today.

4. Exercise – A body that has pent up energy can produce a distracted mind. The best way to improve your concentration all day long is by exercising first thing in the morning.

5. Take Breaks and Mix Up the Environment – Fatigue can negatively affect concentration. The best remedy for this is taking breaks and changing your work environment. When you find yourself losing focus, get up and take a walk. It can also be helpful to work in different places. I have found that a few minutes of quiet meditation is all I need to rejuvenate my focus on the task.

6. Listen to the right types of music. – Music is a great way of creating a higher focus environment. Music can drown out co-workers chatting or other distracting noises. Be careful though, not all music is appropriate for every task. For example, I enjoy music with no lyrics when in high focus situations.

7. Clean up your deskI am not suggesting you necessarily need an empty desk, just an orderly, well-supplied desk.

I cannot promise that these steps will cure ‘conversational whiplash’ but they do allow me the opportunity to practice the discipline of focus.

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