Did you know that the average person has an 8-second attention span according to a 2015 study by Microsoft – which is less than that of a goldfish? With this in mind, it’s easy to see why it can be hard for us to focus our attention long enough to reach a goal. One of the essential keys to reaching goals is the ability to focus. Whether your goal is a simple one like composing an email or more complex like finding true love or buying a new home, focus is the force that allows you to get there.
Distractions are a Saboteur of Focus
Let’s face it, distractions are compelling. Arguably, distractions that create instant gratification are difficult to resist. For example, you’ve probably felt the joy of finally getting that text you’ve been yearning for. Or the fun of clicking on a pop-up ad and instantaneously buying something. Instant gratification lets us experience satisfaction and happiness immediately.
However, our tendency towards instant gratification interferes with our ability to focus. For this reason, some of us become slaves to distraction rather than the master of them. Distraction then becomes a pathology rather than a conscious choice.
Types of Distractions
We face internal and external distractions. Externally we have to manage the distraction of things like social media and email. Internally, we can be distracted by rambling thoughts or worry. Some of the things I distract myself with include checking my social media accounts, my bank account, watching the ‘Bravo’ channel, and indulging in random thoughts like what last night’s dream meant or why Jane Doe didn’t respond to my message. I’ve helped my clients see how they are distracting themselves with over-working, procrastinating, perfectionism and melodrama.
What Happens When You Don’t Focus
The fact is, distraction can be dangerous. We routinely see the increase of distracted driving accidents each year. I crashed my SUV into the side of my garage because I was distracted. I wasn’t texting, however, I wasn’t paying attention. To my defense, my car is a tight squeeze for the width of the garage so maneuvering in and out of the garage takes complete focus and concentration. Admittedly, I had neither.
More profoundly, without focus, you may reach mid-life feeling confused and dissatisfied about the path you’re on because you haven’t consciously created goals for life.
Good news. With discipline, you can strengthen your ability to focus! Today is a fresh start. The best way to predict the future is to create it in your mind first. Manage distractions rather than allowing them to manage you. You may find the following steps towards focus helpful.
Tips for Success
- Revisit your life goals every three months and ensure your actions are aligned with your goals.
- Upon completion of a task, reward yourself with a fun activity.
- Select 2 or 3 activities to set as the top priorities for the day and do those tasks as soon as possible.
- If your external environment is too noisy or chaotic go to another room, put in your ear-buds or take a break until things settle down.
- Take a couple minutes before starting a new task to relax and set an intention for your next goal.
- Do focus ‘sprints.’ Commit to total focus on one activity for 30 minutes to an hour and then take a break.
- Take time to understand what deserves your focus each day, month and year then block out time for it.
- Some times it makes sense to get professional help to acheive your goals. If you feel stuck in a rut, you may benefit from coaching.
I am a coach and teacher helping people feel happier in their lives. Through my own life lessons and experience of coaching I’ve helped people make lemonade from lemons, boldly go in the direction of their dreams and ignite their lives. If you’re interested in finding out how I can help you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org