It almost feels like the ability to concentrate is a lost art in today’s digital world. Constant interruptions by notifications from our multitude of apps can be catastrophic for our productivity and focus.
A recent study reported that we experience around 60 interruptions in an average 8 hour work day. And a study at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.
No wonder so many people feel tired all the time!
But the good news is that focus is a mental muscle, the more you work on building it up, the stronger it gets! If you feel – like so many of us – that you can’t concentrate as much as you used to when you were younger, you can build it back up!
So let’s look at some strategies to improve focus so you can sit down and get some work done in your direct sales business!
Use notifications sparingly
First of all, if you haven’t done so yet, make sure you turn off as many notifications as possible to reduce the number of distractions you experience in your day.
Think of your focus as a spotlight and you want to turn it to the important things and not scatter the light uselessly on every notification your phone throws at you.
You can also think of notifications as the privilege to interrupt you. Who or which apps get to have that privilege?
Retraining your brain
I found it helpful to retrain my brain to focus with this exercise from neuropsychologist Kim Willment. She suggests reading for thirty minutes with a timer set to go off every 5 minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself if your mind has wandered. If it has, just re-focus on what you’re reading and continue to the next alarm. Rinse and repeat.
Doing this exercise helps to retrain your brain to monitor if your mind is wandering and then return to focusing on a single task. This is an huge part of being able to concentrate and focus during your day!
After I’d had a series of strokes 3 years ago, I found this exercise to be a helpful way to retrain my own brain and perhaps it’ll help you too!
Learn to re-focus quickly after an interruption
The next strategy is to improve your mindfulness and to re-focus quickly in the moment. As it turns out, focusing attention on the present moment, and practicing mindfulness actually rewires the brain so that your ability to focus is stronger in everyday life!
There are numerous mindfulness apps you can use, but one quick strategy I use is ‘box breathing’. It’s a great stress reliever and it helps you to recentre yourself very quickly.
When I notice that my focus has slipped of if I need to get my concentration back after an interruption, I use this technique. US Navy Seals use box breathing and they are certainly able to be calm and focus under extreme circumstances!
So here’s how you do it: Sit upright and inhale slowly while you count to 4 in your head. Then hold your breath for a count of four, exhale through your mouth to a count of four, and then hold your breath for four seconds. Repeat this a few times.
I find picturing the box or square in my mind with each step helps me to focus on the activity. I used this technique as a stress reliever when my daughter was critically ill fighting leukemia, but I also noticed a huge improvement in my concentration and ability to focus so I use it regularly now as a way quickly to recentre and refocus.
I encourage you to try these strategies this week. It’ll be so much easier to get work in your direct sales business done when you are able to concentrate and focus for blocks of time!
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