The ability to focus our mind is something we take for granted. But one of the many challenges of living in the twenty first century is being able to keep our focus in the midst of a relentless flow of information and distractions. These constant interruptions and lack of focus can make us feel edgy, restless and increases our stress levels.
In the modern workplace, we multi-task like crazy. We multi-task because we think that doing lots of things at once will save time. But this is an illusion. All of the evidence points to the fact that it takes longer to do several things at once compared to doing the same things one after another. In fact we lose a lot of time by moving our attention from one thing to another – we are literally increasing the time it takes to do the job.
So, it might be worth putting a bit of effort into strengthening your focus. There are a number of ways to do this. Firstly, practicing mindfulness for at least five minutes a day can help. Mindfulness involves focusing on one thing, usually our breath, and then when we get distracted, we gently bring our attention back to where we started. Our mind wanders, we bring it back. It wanders again, we bring it back. It’s a little press-up session for the mind. Secondly, practice doing one thing at a time. When you go for a walk, just go for a walk. When you wash the dishes, just wash the dishes. In work, you might experiment with single-tasking in twenty five minute chunks of time. Finally, reduce as many distractions as possible. Disable the email and smart phone beeps and alerts. Plan your time for focus. You will be more productive and less stressed. A double bonus.
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