I had SUCH a problem with ‘holding focus’ recently, like others have.
December 2020 was a quiet close to a year that had a lot of big ups and downs. Christmas and New Years provided some relief and relaxation. In fact, memes around New Years were funny, particularly this one, which made me literally laugh out loud:
Then January 6th, 2021 happened. U.S. news of politics and culture had me “attention-captured”. It’s like that saying about driving by an accident on the road. You can’t help but stare. And this was one big, long accident. News and reaction was everywhere, from email inbox to social media to podcasts to online streaming. How could I not be concerned and affected by all the news about the US election, the Capitol riot and its momentous ramifications?
Awareness is step 1. Do you find yourself with a lack of focus?
Whoopsie. I caught myself. I realized that the news about political culture of the USA had jumped into my daily ‘to do list’ like a bad habit. I even recognized that this new habit was taking up the time I gained when I gave up my multiplayer online game.
I recognized I didn’t want this to continue. I wanted to make an adjustment and not only get my time back, but to choose my priorities more consciously. I knew I wanted to keep appraised of further news and reactions, yet wanted to get back into the swing of my normal flow, attending to not only urgent but also important matters.
With that awareness, I made my a personal and professional decision: Hold. My. Focus.
Step 2 is diagnosing what’s going on in your specific case.
What was causing my letting go of ‘important’ when the world news calls ‘urgently’? What was the actual problem? Distractions? I found some good quotes for this:
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.
– Zig Ziglar
Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.
– John Carmack
When walking, walk. When eating, eat.
– Zen proverb
Sometimes, it’s that you can’t be still. That you’re almost, maybe, addicted to being distracted. In a podcast I listened to yesterday, they discussed many issues that can cause lack of focus distractions:
- Checking email
- Checking social media
- Checking the news
- Checking all of the above on your phone
Or maybe it’s that you’re worried about something, and those thoughts invade your focus: worried about a loved one, a health prognosis, financial or legal issues.
Or maybe it’s darn hard to remain focused because you’re working at home now, and you simply get interrupted by other household members.
I think for me it was a combination of being worried about what I was reading in the news while being inundated with news updates to my email inbox. STAYING focused while being distracted appeared to be the difficulty.
There are various ways each of us may realize we’ve been distracted. The important part is recognizing you need to re-focus, and examining your life to see how and why you lose focus.
Step 3 is coming up with solutions.
You can’t box yourself into a one-size-fits-all answer. You have to look at what works for you personally. When you’re ready to get rid of distractions, come up with a system or process that allows you to focus and eliminate what was distracting you.
Part of my own personal solution was accepting that I had been distracted. The news was also emotionally and physically draining. Acceptance and recognition also led to me pardoning myself! We can be so tough on ourselves… or at least I can be. I had to let myself off the hook for time lost, pick up from there, and bring the re-focus.
In my case, it was a little bit of ‘cold turkey’ or forced abstinence from news during certain hours. I’m also filtering the incoming emails to a ‘read later’ folder. Best.Thing.Ever!
I’m certainly going to read the news and keep up with American culture. I’m simply re-focusing on higher priorities first.
What solutions have you found for yourself when needing to re-focus?
Have you learned helpful tactics? I’d love to hear from you about it. Drop me a line!