Staying focused is hard. Think about your life and answer this question: On a scale from 1 to 10, how easy it is for you to stay focused?
1 – I’m not able to stay focused at all
10 – I’m focused all the time
Think about your work and the project(s) you are involved in right now. How focused are you on your work and how often do you find yourself doing something that has nothing to do with your work?
Maybe you can say that you need a break and you need to break focus, but this is not what I was talking about.
For example, let’s say you want to lose weight. After how many days, weeks, or months are you going to stop keeping to your plan of losing weight and start eating junk food?
Of course, you’re not supposed to stay 24/7 at the gym and exercise all the time. But that doesn’t mean you should do things that are not related to your goal. When you lose focus, you do exactly that: you start doing things that are at the opposite pole of what you set yourself to do.
But staying focused is not only about projects that are ongoing or scheduled for specific time intervals. To stay focused also means to be able to hear and listen what others are saying when you’re talking to them.
Think about your conversations and be honest with yourself. How often do you interrupt others just because you have something to say?
Staying focused and being present are two difficult activities. Therefore, I’ll share with you two methods to help you if you want to learn how to stay focused and be present.
1. Learn to listen actively
Active listening is hard.
In fact, active listening is so hard that it may take you up to a few years to become a great active listener. But let’s not focus on that.
Why is active listening so hard?
It’s hard because you have to put aside your thoughts and thinking and stop everything related to what you’re thinking and feeling.
For example, let’s say you’re an active runner and you’ve finished more than 10 marathons in the last 3 years.
Two days from now, we meet and I tell you that I decided to run my first marathon. At that moment, you’ll start thinking about your experiences and you’ll have all these insights on how to train better and how to finish the marathon faster. Therefore, you’ll share them with me.
But the thing is, I didn’t ask for any insight or advice. I just told you that I want to run a marathon.
That’s why active listening is hard. You have to say stop to whatever you feel and think about what others are telling you and pay attention to what they actually have to say.
Maybe, in the above situation, if you keep listening, you learn that I don’t want any external help because I want to do an experiment and see if I’m capable of running and finishing the marathon in under 4 hours and 30 minutes only with the information that I find on the Internet.
In most cases, even if we have access to such detailed information about others, we still ignore it and provide advice. Even though we know the details, we don’t listen actively. We only hear what the other person is saying.
How is active listening helping you stay focused?
As long as you pay attention to what the other person is saying and you set aside your thoughts and emotions, you are connected to the present moment.
Your thoughts and emotions are a powerful trigger for activating your past or your future.
In the previous example, as soon as you hear about the marathon, you start thinking about your experiences with finishing marathons (your past). And then, you shift your attention to providing advice about an experience that’s going to happen 6 months from now (the other person’s future).
If you listen actively, your thoughts and emotions stay connected to the present moment. And that will help you stay focused.
Did you know that optimistic team members are 31% more productive?
How optimistic are you?
Did you know that optimism is connected to motivation, coping, and well-being? It is. And it is also connected to depression and doubt and many other things.
Click the button below and grade each of the 10 statements on the screen. It takes less than 3 minutes and you get your results right away.
2. Accept your emotions
Emotions are so tricky and they are tricky because, even though everything we feel, we feel in the present moment, emotions are often shifting our attention to the past or future.
For example, if you feel like you’re going to lose your job, then you’ll start worrying about your future. And you’ll maybe feel anxious if you lost your job in the past and had to change the way you lived your life.
But the emotion that you’re feeling is being felt in the present moment and that’s an important thing that you should remember.
By thinking about your future and its uncertainties, you’ll ignore the feeling itself and run away from it. Don’t do that. Go back to your present moment and acknowledge your emotion.
If you feel worried about the future, then feel worried. Don’t explain your feeling or put words on it – it will simply shift your focus from the present moment to something else.
The same strategy works for any emotion, no matter what would trigger the emotion.
If you are angry, feel the anger. If you’re happy, feel the happiness. If you’re excited, feel the excitement. Don’t associate it with its trigger and experience the feeling flowing through your body.
If you run away from your emotions, you’re running away from the present moment. And an important part of staying focused is living in the present moment.
How emotions help you stay focused
From dancing to public speaking. From sleeping to painting. From working to making love.
Whenever you feel emotions, accept them. After all, whatever you’re feeling is part of what you’re doing. If you’re painting, you won’t suddenly feel worried about losing your job. Unless, when you feel worried about losing your job, you start thinking about your future or past.
Accept your emotions and live in the present moment.
With love and optimism,
What did you learn?
What are some valuable things you learned about staying focused and being present?
I would love to know what you think, so share your insights with me using the form below.