I sometimes know it’s hard to keep my focus on things I need to get done throughout the day. It’s hard to keep that focus at work because of our smartphones and our computers and media constantly being fed to us throughout the day through those devices. Now we can not only watch YouTube videos of cats acting silly, but also see people mimicking cats as well. The winter weather can also get us frustrated especially with the sort of days we have been having recently. On top of all that, we have our minds, which can have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Keeping our focus on what we want to get done throughout the workday can be very taxing at times.
With so many distractions how was I going keep my focus on achieving my lifelong goals or even get through a normal workday? One of the more difficult challenges was focusing on my dream of opening my practice. With so many distractions and hurdles, I sometimes wondered if we would ever be able to get it off the ground. The mind can play evil tricks and at times it allowed me to get sidetracked. It’s the overthinking about things that held me back for a very long time.
The experience of opening my practice and staying focused on that goal caused me to change my life around. I had to change my frame of my mind to keep from overthinking things and feeling worried about the future all the time. I will share with you what worked for me but please do keep in mind these tips may or may not work for you.
1. Get a goodnight sleep
Most sleep experts will tell you that Americans are not sleeping enough and believe me I know all about sleep deprivation. In my particular case, my job sometimes does not allow me to get the sleep I so desperately crave. When I was working as a Hospitalist at Trinity hospital in Rock Island, I also began to realize that my TV watching habits also took away from my sleep time. I wanted to catch up on some my favorite shows that I would prefer to watch them all at once. That DVR may indeed be an evil device after all. When I started my practice, I have decided to unplug from all media devices after 10 PM. Unplugging from all media allows me to stay alert and productive during the next day. I also felt like I had a lot more focus this way and the shows I wanted to watch are still on my DVR. Yes, I am wrong; the DVR is not as evil as I once thought.
2. Stop watching the news
Yes, it’s great to be the most-informed person at the water cooler or in the break room. Or is it? I am not so sure anymore. It’s very easy to get riled up about the latest woes with what’s going on in Washington or agonizing over what congress is or isn’t doing. I personally have decided to unplug from watching the news. What I have learned is my mind tends to stay more focused on the tasks at hand, and I don’t start over thinking about how screwed up things are in the world. Now and then I do pick up the paper to catch-up on things, but I don’t agonize over the news anymore. I have gained more time for myself, and I am actually more productive this way because I am not so emotionally attached to the issues the way I was before. Detaching myself from everyday issues has freed up my mind to focus on other things and allowed me to feel less stressed throughout the day.
3. Get Inspired or just learn something
I have tried to focus more on listening to more podcasts or even YouTube videos that provide me with a source of inspiration or an opportunity to learn something new. Trying to learn new things relating to setting up my new practice gave me a feeling that I was getting closer and closer to achieving my goal. When I am sitting around with some free time on my hands, I am always trying to consume content that will either inspire me or learn something that I can use towards my business.
4. Slow down!
I think it’s imperative just to slow down. If I am unable to think or the stress is just getting to me, I just sit down and breathe. I just breathe deeply for five minutes. Breathing deeply does the body a lot of good as I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts. If I have more than five minutes, I try meditating in order to empty my mind and get rid of all the “noise” that might be hurting my focus.
These are just a few tips that have helped me keep my focus, and I like to believe they worked for me. If you have any questions or any other suggestions on how to maintain focus, please feel free to comment.
Dr. Shah, M.D.