Friday, February 24, 2017

Focus, or lack thereof

One thing (of many) that I've had trouble with for a long time is focus. I'm a bit of a magpie at times, easily distracted by shiny objects. For instance, it took about ten minutes between writing that last sentence and this one.

Lately, I've been working on getting myself focused for work and writing, and it hasn't been easy. I've found that meditation helps to a certain extent, if nothing else than to get me to calm down and take the edge off my anxiety. Generally, it goes focus --> lose focus --> get upset about losing focus --> get anxious about not focusing. Meditation is helping me go between the first two steps without making it all the way to step four.

I also figured out that there are ways to break my concentration that I can avoid. Notifications drive me nuts - if my phone buzzes due to an email or text, I will HAVE to see what it is, even if I'm in the middle of something. Same with my work email - if I get the desktop alert of a new email, then I need to open it ASAP.

Earlier this week, there was a training from someone at Microsoft about using Outlook and how to make it work more efficiently. The training itself wasn't great, but there was one thing that I got out of it that's been helpful - turning off desktop alerts and only checking email at specific times of day. Now, I can't just get off email completely - most of my work comes via email, so I need to be able to access the email threads to figure out what the devil I'm doing - but just turning off the alerts has made it easier for me to focus on what I'm doing, rather than jumping back and forth all day.

As for my phone, I generally set it to "do not disturb" when I'm at work. In both cases, I have exceptions to the general rule - phone calls will still notify me on my phone, and I get alerts for emails from my manager and my husband - but overall, it's made it a little easier to carve out the time I need to get things done. I've also taken to meditating for a few minutes either in the morning or right after lunch, which is when I usually have the hardest time getting back into the flow of things.

How do you focus? What do you use to keep yourself on-task and not distracted by all the things? I'm always looking for new tips and tricks.