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10 Tips for Focus in a Distracting World


10 Tips for Focus in a Distracting World

There’s a stupid reason I’ve thought about no longer blogging – I just don’t have the time.

Every time I open my computer and intend to write, something crazy happens. My fingers skim across the keyboard and quickly go to a rotating list of websites: CNN, Washington Post, Facebook, Sydney Morning Herald, Twitter etc.

Logically, I need to close these time and energy sucking sites and write a post or do some other work. Why can’t I stop myself?

I’m obsessed.

With the news.

With the new U.S. President.

With the World response.

Multiple times a day, I scour each of these sites for updates and insights that will somehow magically transform my rising stress into an oasis of peace and calm.

News Flash: Not happening.

I’ll bet a lot of money that you’re doing the same thing (and if not you, someone with no more than two degrees of separation). Maybe it’s not your blog that’s suffering but your work, or your relationship, or your sleep, or your sanity.

Here’s the deal. The craziness is not about to stop. The division is not about to miraculously be bridged by next Thursday. We need to be engaged in the world AND focus on living our day-to-day lives.

Here’s the challenge: How do you moderate the obsession that eats your time and move into the next phase – engagement?

When you’re engaged, you’re focused on solutions.

When you’re obsessed, you’re focused on the problem.

When you’re engaged, you put your discretionary effort into action.

When you’re obsessed, you keep digging for more proof of your position.

When you’re engaged, you join others to create meaningful change.

When you’re obsessed, nothing else matters.

My obsession with “he who shall not be named” is hurting me. I know it.

Here are 10 ways to Ditch Obsession and Get Focused:

1. Time Block-It

Let yourself go crazy and look at every site you can squeeze into the time you’ve allocated. Instead of the revolving door, open it and close it when you’re done. Don’t worry, you’ll have another break later. A suggestion? Don’t block hours, think minutes.

2. Know Where Your Time is Going

There are great free apps out there that are eye openers with where you’re putting your online time. I use Rescue Time, and it’s a great reminder of much-needed time adjustment.

3. Use an App to Help

If self-control is not your thing, there are apps out there for your computer to give you the willpower you may be lacking. If you’re ready to get focused, two that you may want to check out are Stay Focused and Self Control.

4. Put your phone in a drawer

You’ll hear it ring but won’t be as tempted to “just look for a sec” every time you hear the buzz. If a drawer doesn’t work for you, find somewhere that does. The key is to not always have it at arm’s length.

5. Do Something to Distract You From Your Obsession

Pick up a great book, watch a favorite TV show, go to the gym… find something that will help you release your brain from the constant painful churn. If you want to get focused, you’ve got to release the clutter to make room for what matters.

6. Take Action

Do something besides passively watch the news and feel the pain. This is real-world; not a TV movie or the prequel to a Simpsons episode. There are a plethora of ways to be engaged and create change. It’s okay to start small. The most important thing is to find a way that resonates with you. Just stop freaking out and for goodness sake, stop complaining – that’s not what the world needs now.

7. Step Away From the Bash-Fest

It’s easy to surround yourself with people who think just like you and spend hours going down into a very sad, dark, black hole. The thing with a black hole is that there is no end, no stopping point. You need to pull yourself away from the edge of that abyss if you want to stay on track with your personal and professional goals.

8. Ask for Help

A surefire way to be alerted to your bad behaviors is to enlist someone else to call you out on them. Ouch. When your colleague, friend, family member sees you on the sites that are pulling your focus, ask them to tell you. “Are you on FB again?” “CNN. Really? They don’t update the site 100 times a day…”

9. Decide to Rise

Focus is all about where you look and that’s up to you. My brilliant friend has decided that a daily effort to look for the good, and share it, is a way to not only get focused on positive outcomes, but also influence others to do the same. 

10. Choose to Get Unstuck

When you’re stuck in a rut (like I am with the news), you’ve got to choose to change. All of the tips and sites above will help, but until you tap into your free will to make a better choice, you’ll be stuck too. Powerful change often starts with a choice. Step into your personal power.

Will you turn to the light or the dark?

Will you fuel yourself with anger or possibility?

Will you create change or wait it out?

Most importantly, will you get focused or live a distracted life?

The choice is yours.

As for me, this morning I did check in with a couple of sites but moved on because if I let the news stop me from doing what I love to do, that will be a sad, sad day.

How do you find your focus? I’d love to hear your tips and strategies.

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