A lack of focus can impact just about every piece of your life.
When you can’t focus, productivity comes to a screeching halt. Your mind is anywhere, but where it needs to be, and it’s hard to find the motivation to do the things you need.
The key is learning the powerful habit of mindful focus. That is, learning to quiet your mind and embrace your place in the world around you.
It’s peaceful, calming, and relaxing.
Yet, it takes a little bit of work to develop this habit. So, let’s go over the changes you can make in your life right now to make this a reality!
Pause & Breathe
Life is hectic when you’re juggling work, a family, and other responsibilities.
You’re constantly on the move and never seem to have an opening in your schedule. It’s hard even to find the time for a 15-minute break now and then.
But when was the last time you stopped just to breathe?
Paying close attention to your breathing – the inhale and the exhale – can do wonders for your mental health. It can improve mental focus, and even your energy levels.
One popular breathing technique is “4-7-8.” To use this technique, find a quiet place free of distractions.
Breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
Hold the breath in your lungs for seven seconds.
Force the air out of your mouth for eight seconds.
The more you focus on your breathing and counting, the less you’ll focus on the things that distract you. This can help to build up your focus and attention that can transfer over to your daily life.
You can then use this technique when the focus is lacking.
It’s just about impossible to focus when distractions surround you.
So, when was the last time you sat down and gave 100% of your focus to something?
It’s probably been a while.
Now, think about the things in your life that distract you from being productive or even just focusing.
Maybe it’s your smartphone and 24/7 internet access. Or, perhaps it’s a particular person in your life.
While you can’t entirely get rid of some distractions, you must limit them as much as possible.
Put down the phone and turn off the TV every once in a while.
Instead, bring your focus to what’s going on around you and who you’re with. This will get you used to having fewer distractions when focus is vital.
Commit to Mindfulness
Focus isn’t something you can just switch on and off as you please.
It takes a lot of practice to learn how to control your own thoughts and bring your focus elsewhere.
So, you want to practice mindful focus before you actually need it.
If you’ve never meditated or practiced mindfulness before, you want to avoid jumping into a 30-minute session right off the bat.
It’s best to start small with a two-minute technique first.
This might be a body scan or merely a two-minute mindful breathing session, but it’s a great way to introduce you to relaxing and focusing.
As you become more experienced, work your way up to longer sessions.
The goal is to be able to use these techniques in your daily life to calm you down or bring your mind back to the present.
Listen to Music
Unfortunately, listening to your favorite style of music might not be helpful if you’re pursuing mindful focus.
After all, it’s hard to focus on being productive with the bass thumping or while you’re singing along to your favorite tune.
Did you know that some styles of music are better for focus than others?
The best way to boost your focus with music is by not listening to music that you absolutely hate or love. When you don’t feel either way strongly, you can better focus on the task on hand.
In some cases, listening to the sounds of nature (like rippling water) can help with relaxation and building focus.
Spend Time Outside
Just spending time outside is great for your mental health. It helps with releasing endorphins in your body, which can help you to feel happy naturally.
But the outdoors can help build mindful focus too.
So long as you’re away from people.
Head down to the local hiking trails or even venture over to the closest National Park. Get as far away from other people and civilization as possible and just be one with nature.
Now while out in nature, focus on using at least four of your five senses.
Listen to the birds chirping or the bubbling creek below you.
Look for plants and wildlife representing each color of the rainbow.
Touch the bark of the nearby trees or feel the temperature of the river water.
Smell the honeysuckles or the roses as you pass by.
This is a technique that you can also use when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed in your daily life.
It’s sometimes called “grounding” and is often used to bring you back to the current moment and relieve anxiety.
Stop Blocking Your Feelings
A lack of focus can come from racing or intrusive thoughts.
And since you’re looking to maintain your focus, you probably do whatever you can to push these thoughts aside and focus on the task at hand.
The problem is not setting aside the time to confront these thoughts.
This makes them come back more often and more intensely.
One of the best things you can do is allow yourself to feel your emotions and think about them as they arise. This gives you the chance to analyze why you’re experiencing them and address them head-on.
Working through your thoughts and worries could help to get rid of them.
You’re always doing something.
It’s either work, attending a sporting event for your children, cooking dinner, or just doing household tasks.
But always being productive can drain you mentally, emotionally, physically, and even socially.
Take the time just to exist.
Do nothing — even if it’s for five minutes.
This gives you the much-needed relaxation that you’re craving. After all, you can only focus so much before your mind becomes overwhelmed.
Mindful focus isn’t something you just decide to have. It’s something that you need to practice consistently to enjoy the benefits.
So, start scheduling time into your life to breathe, relax, and do nothing. Focus on the world around you and clear your mind as often as possible.
And most importantly, figure out what’s blocking your focus and work to defeat it.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Renton at the Lodge to help them with their online marketing.