How to stay focused in a world of distractions
About the Author
Tamsin Edwards is the office manager Elevate Wellness Center. For more information on our services, stop by the office at 2034 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, or call us at 530-541 WELL (9355).
I don’t know about you, but at any given time, the search bar on my laptop has around 15 tabs open. And I’ll continually add more as I get distracted by a thirst for knowledge.
This is wonderful in a creative sense, but incredibly useless as I flit from a genuine idea to a random question about the universe, when I have a project to complete or work deadline to meet.
A survey in 2016 of Canadian media consumption concluded that the average attention span had fallen to just 8 seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000. This is one second less than the notoriously forgetful goldfish!
In the overstimulated, fast paced, world of today, more and more people are actively seeking ways to slow down, find their focus, up their productivity, and learn to switch off the noise. Not only are we finding it harder to complete tasks at an optimal level, we’re living in a time when burnout has become a buzzword, overwhelm is the new norm, and focus is something even your “storage-is-full” phone is finding hard to do.
Many of us find ourselves pushing through suggested breaks, wrapping our day up much later than the average 5 p.m. finish (without extra pay), and ignoring bodily signs like needing the bathroom, and feeling thirsty or hungry. Exhaustion and an inevitable emotional crash can result if these behaviors are repeated time after time.
Let’s look at ways to combat this through actively implementing rest periods, tapping into Ultradian rhythms, and learning to reset your body in order to reach your maximum potential. We all have a pause button that can enable us to work smarter, not harder; to create work of quality over quantity; to prevent us getting run down, sick, or worse, chronically ill.
These are a series of short cycles of time that occur through your day. They involve 90 – 120 minute bursts of productivity, followed by 15 – 25 minutes of rest. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the organ clock breaks the day into two hour segments, suggesting optimal times for you to sleep, eat, and work. Ayurveda practitioners use the Dosha clock based on similar principles, intended to keep the mind and body in a state of balance. Cycles of activity followed by rest are designed to reduce stress and maximize individual performance. Many experts have followed this same line of thinking with multiple studies producing consistent results. The Wim Hof technique is an interesting approach and one we recommend you look into further, along with the Pomodoro technique – for which there is an app to assist you! Some of the most focused people in the world swear by this easy hack which encourages you to break your day down into short, timed intervals.
Here are some simple ways you can stay focused during the day, while pressing reset during those rest periods.
Set an alarm: If you’re out of touch with your natural rhythms of energy, or used to overriding the signs, this is a simple way to remind yourself to take a break. When you start to feel distracted, don’t push through— stop and take a breath.
Regulate your temperature: We think, work, and focus better when we’re comfortable. This is usually between 68 – 77 degrees. Anything above or below and your efficiency may suffer.
Fuel yourself: Sugar and coffee are quick fixes that ultimately deplete our energy in the long run, despite the initial boost. Herbal tea is a great alternative — L theanine (an amino acid found in green tea) has been shown to improve alertness and boost your mood, while decreasing stress. Healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbs won’t cause the same crashes as sugary snacks, while fruits and vegetables can help ensure you stay optimally hydrated throughout the day. Adequate hydration is necessary to eliminate accumulated toxins from the body.
Move: Even 5 minutes walking around the parking lot can get the blood moving. Gentle stretching, legs up the wall, or a short play session with your dog or kids can revitalize the mind and body sufficiently to continue afresh with the next work session.
Breathe: Spend 5 minutes deep breathing — the fastest way to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and digest state of being. Resting this way allows our brain to relieve itself of strain, so that integration can happen. This helps us process information, and creates space for solutions to arise that otherwise might be pushed aside on override mode.
Actually switch off!: Not working is not enough during break periods. Using the time to go on social media, pay bills, call your doctor, or read the news isn’t ideal! We stay wired instead of resetting. Try calling a friend, finding something to laugh about, or just connecting in a real-life way. The benefits far outweigh those of a screen orientated method of communication.
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