Learn to focus your mind

Technology has transformed the way we work. It means we’re always connected, whether we’re in a meeting, on our way to that meeting or having a coffee break. But what it also means is that information and requests are constantly being thrown at you from all quarters. Email, voice mail, HipChat and people gathering at your desk vying for your attention.

You may be thinking, ‘I’m a multi-tasker and I juggle multiple priorities with ease.’ But are you really performing to your highest capacity in those moments? Research has shown that we spend almost 47 percent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing. It’s the disease called autopilot. But there is a cure. It’s called mindfulness.

In a nutshell, mindfulness allows you to concentrate on what you’re doing at that minute, while being able to flag away any unnecessary distractions. It’s about developing a sharp, clear mind and you don’t need research to tell you that this will vastly increase your effectiveness.

Here are some proven tips to help you focus your mind and energy:

  • Start your day the right way. Instead of jumping out of bed, immediately checking your phone and grabbing your first coffee, relax. Take the time to spend two minutes in bed noticing your breath. Swat away thoughts of work and breathe again. Repeat. And repeat.
  • Once you’re at the office, take 10 minutes somewhere quiet to repeat this activity, this time for longer. Sit upright and focus once again on the calming flow of your breathing. In and out. And don’t forget to enjoy these precious 600 seconds of solitude.
  • After this soothing and focused start to the day, it’s time to practice applying focus and awareness to everything you do. Focus on the one task at hand and release other distractions as they arise. Once you’ve finished what you’ve started, it’s time to move on to the next task. One at a time.

It usually takes 3 weeks to form a habit, but you’ll reap the benefits well before then. And it can be applied to any situation. While sitting in a meeting breathing when you’re supposed to be presenting the latest sales results may not be appropriate, take the long way to the meeting room and practice mindfulness on the way. You may be surprised at how effective your meetings become, now that you’re fully focused on the task at hand.

And just as we need to take micro-pauses for our physical health, make sure you’re doing the same for your mental well-being. Set a timer every hour for you to complete one minute of mindfulness.

Before we finish, there’s one more step. Banish the inane chatter of the radio on the way home and spend 10 minutes of your commute focusing on your breathing.

If you can commit to the 14 day mindfulness challenge, your mind, career and the results you achieve will be the richer for it.

Author: Peter Robinson
Team Leadership Services