Improving Your Focus Might Be Easier Than You Think

Does thinking about your to-do list every morning make you want to crawl back under the covers? Are you constantly feeling overscheduled, overcommitted, and exhausted?

Does your laptop seem to have become a permanent appendage? You’re either sitting in front of it, laying on the bed with it, or carrying it everywhere?

Every day our home and work lives have seemingly endless tasks that need to be completed. The dog needs to be walked, your big project at work needs yet another review, your kid has a dentist appointment, soccer practice at 7:00pm, and a game on Saturday. Like the laundry that continues to pile up, you never seem to finish it all. You think to yourself, “I just need to power through and get this done”, only to start all over again tomorrow.

It may come as no surprise to hear that you are not alone. Most people feel this way.

But the worst thing about our over-stuffed schedules ruling our lives is that instead of us getting more done, it’s actually hampering our progress. Going non-stop can lead to burnout or even illness, bringing us to a grinding halt.

So how do we deal with our incredibly busy lives in an effective and healthy way?

Give Yourself a Break

When we are working on something that’s intellectually challenging, like strategizing, planning, making a decision, or designing a new solution, our brain is working really hard.
The executive center in the brain requires a lot of energy. It is not designed to work for extended periods of time, and needs breaks to continue to function effectively.

According to a study by the University of Illinois, even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus for prolonged periods.

When focusing on a task, it’s a good idea to take a short break at least once every hour. This not only gives your mind a chance to rest, it gives you a chance to get your body moving too.

Get Out Into Nature

Taking a break is not only good for our physical functioning, it also is great for our emotional wellbeing.

Going for a short walk is one way to get a few steps in along with some fresh air and perspective. More and more studies show that exposure to nature can facilitate calm, re-invigorate our nervous system and even increase concentration.

Have you ever felt worse after spending some time getting a little sunshine? Most likely, the answer is no. Whether we believe it or not, getting outside is often the simplest gift we can give to ourselves during the day.

Connect with Others

Grab a snack or a cup of tea and chat with a friend or colleague. Share a story and have a laugh. As we’ve learned before, connecting to others is one of the best ways to reset before getting back to the task at hand.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the things you have to do, remember to give yourself some grace. We’re not meant to be robots with endless batteries.

Taking a break to breathe, get outside and enjoy some fresh air, or connecting with a friend are all great ways to recharge. Your to-do lists and projects will still be there. You’ll just be better prepared to tackle them again once you take a moment to take care of yourself.

What methods are you using to manage all life asks of you? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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