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A couple months ago, one of my teachers said something that resonated far beyond that one class. She said:
“Let go of any part of today that does not serve you in this moment.”
At the time, I desperately needed to hear that message. I still do. Maybe you need to hear it too.
Between work, freelancing, running, my overflowing inbox and other commitments, it’s not easy to “stay in the moment.” Easier said than done, right?
My brain is often running a million miles a minute and while I’m completing one task, my mind is already thinking ahead to the next three items on my list.
That’s why these simple, yet powerful words really stuck with me. Here’s what I realized:
What it really comes down to is focus. It’s easy to get off track by the dozens of thoughts running through your head at any given moment when you’re supposed to be doing something else.
We’re all go-getters here. We all have a million things going on in our lives. Many of us are trying to balance full-time jobs with side gigs, passion projects, relationships, friendships, healthy living and social lives. We have a lot going on and finding focus is not easy. In fact, sometimes it can feel downright impossible.
Here are four things I’m actively doing right now to stay in the moment:
1. Eliminate distractions. Distractions are everywhere. When I need to buckle down to get something done, I shut off the TV, turn my phone over so I can’t see any blinking messages and X out of all tabs and social media sites on my computer. A clean and quiet slate is often just what I need to get to work. Once the physical (and digital) clutter is out of the way, I’m usually able to get in the zone fairly quickly.
2. Find the right environment. Do you know where you get your best work done? I get my best work done sitting at my kitchen table in the very early morning. Understanding WHERE and when you can be the most productive is important; once you figure that out, you can maximize your space and time to hone in on a specific project or goal.
3. Set a time limit. Find it challenging to focus on the now every moment of the day? Me too. Instead, pick a certain amount of time (even something as short as 15 or 20 minutes) and select one task to complete. For example, I tell myself, “From 6 a.m. until 7 a.m. you will work on that blog post without any other distraction.” During that time, I don’t check email or Twitter or do anything except sit and write. When I break things down into specific time limits, I find it easier to focus. Knowing there’s an end point is also helpful to ensure I actually abide to my self-imposed time limit.
4. Stop comparing. I’m working very hard on keeping my eyes on my own paper and worrying about where I’m at in my life/career/business/blog without feeling the need to compare myself to others. This one is HARD, but important. When I feel that little green monster creeping in, I remind myself of all my own hard work and accomplishments. Instead of feeling jealous or inferior, I try to channel that energy into productivity to drive myself even harder to reach my own goals.
So tell me: how do you find focus? Share your tips in the comments below.