Want to Be More Productive? Look at Your Focus

What are you paying attention to? So many of us spend our days checking our blackberries and iphones, text and e-mail. We check out our favorite website and tv shows. We are constantly paying attention to so many different things that it can be overwhelming. Have you ever checked in with yourself during the course of the day?

It sounds like a strange question, but where and how we set our attention affects every moment of the day. I recently heard the phrase “organizational ADD”. In the business world it is the unending list of small tasks and the constant jumping from one task to another without a clear sense of importance. Not only is this ineffective and unorganized, it is also extremely draining on the employees who function every day in this state. If you compare this to how many of us live our lives outside the office, it’s very similar. While there are individuals who truly suffer from ADD, many of us operate in a state of interupted attention. We jump from one thing to the next in the pursuit of completing as many tasks as possible. There are a multitude of things that we complete totally in autopilot. It is this constant doing with a lack of focus that renders us unproductive and exhausted. The problem lies in doing things with very little awareness. When we learn to stop doing and check in on what is really going on in our minds and bodies, we get a better sesnse of what to focus on and how to focus on it. We start to realize the effects of our daily habits and how the way we are functioning is truly serving us. When we take the time to slow down and become aware; instead of getting less done, we can actually get more done. Why? The stress that we are holding both mentally and physically starts to dissapate. We actually become more productive as a result of reduced stress levels.

When I checked in to what I was paying attention to I noticed how narrowly focused my thoughts were. I tended to worry about every detail and fixated on small details that were not of any real consequence. It is this limited thinking that holds people back from truly exploring their creativity and all of the opportunities that are available to us. For many people the idea of checking in with themselves is completely foreign.  Here are some tips on how to get started:

  • Instead of jumping out of bed to turn on your blackberry, take one minute to check in with yourself. What are your thoughts? How does your body feel?
  • Look at areas where you feel you are reacting instead of creating. At work, are you just reacting to the tasks put in front of you trying to get it done in the most timely fashion or are you creating new ways of getting things done by working with others or making suggestions to your boss?
  • Stop for a minute and assess what is going on internally. Is your heart beating fast? Are you feeling tense? Become aware of what may be causing you to respond this way. Take some breaths or do some stretches to release the tension.

Checking in is a matter of becoming aware of your circumstances and how it affects your outcome. You can’t control situations, but you can create the reaction you desire. You can do this by slowing down and using your attention more effectively.

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