Focusing

In today's world, focusing is one of the most difficult things to do.  We have so many things to distract us and they are all so easily accessible.  Some days, it's hard to get anything done because my mind is pulled in so many different directions.  I start getting going on one thing and then I remember something else and get distracted and then something else happens and...  it's easy for it to spiral out of control.

So, how do we increase focus?

Like anything else, it takes practice.

The first step to focusing, is to brain dump.  Grab a piece of paper and write down everything that's on your mind.  Get out every tiny to-do, every annoyance, every "oh, I almost forgot!".  It might be a good idea to do a little sorting while you're at it and create a list of your "Incompletes and Irritants".  Getting all these things out on paper gets them out of your mind.  Keep this list handy because things are liable to pop into your head at any moment and you'll want to be able to address them without really spending the time to solve them at the moment.

The next step to focusing is to be clear about what you're trying to accomplish.

Don't make this big or vague.  Be specific.  "I am focusing on writing a blog post about focus that I will post on Friday" is way more valuable than, "I need to focus on writing something."  The first statement is very clear about the intention and the goal.  It also let's me know when I've accomplished my purpose.  Work on being as specific as possible.

Then, identify the first thing that needs to be done and start on that.

Oftentimes, we struggle with just getting started.  Maybe the project feels too big or we think it'll take to long and instead of diving in, we just sit there feeling, "ugh".  If we take the time to figure out the first step and get ourselves to do that, we will most often fall in with the momentum and continue working on the next thing and then the next and then the next...  Make sure that this first thing is easy and manageable.  You'll know when you've found that very first step when you feel like, "Wow, that's so easy that I'd be lame if I didn't just do it".

The last step is to keep refocusing.

Crap happens.  The internet crashes.  Toddlers spill milk.  You get an unexpected phone call.  The mail arrives.  Whatever it is that interrupts you, it's okay.  Just recommit, refocus, and get back to work.  If you were in a groove and now you feel despair, just go back and identify the next step to get the momentum going again.

The more you work at focusing, the easier it will be to refocus when things inevitably come up.