I’ve been thinking a lot about Focus lately – enough that it deserves a capital “F.”
It’s not that I’ve never written about focus, but it seems more critical than ever to remove ourselves from the chatter of social media, family squabbles, and needy pets. We have to give ourselves space to focus on a project.
This effort to do something about my lack of focus was precipitated by the realization that my writing wasn’t living up to its potential. I had gotten lazy and was sending newsletter drafts to my team at the last minute.
I was slacking off on research and on listening to what artists share with me in my inbox, on my blog, and through social media.
My lack of focus means that I wasn’t fully committed to my work and wasn’t performing my best for readers and members.
It was due to my inability to tune out the noise and apply myself to what is most important in the present moment. Sometimes this is work, sometimes it’s play, sometimes it’s just being lazy.
The point is that I want to be in the moment and to give the moment all of my attention. [tweet this]
Here are some tricks I have been using to help me recover focus when I write. You can adapt them to your studio practice, marketing time, or business calendar.
Admit You Have a Problem
1. Admit that lack of focus is a problem, and that you want to do something about it.
The understanding that attention splatter isn’t helping you reach your goals is the first step to recovering your focus. As soon as you realize this, you will begin to recognize the moments when you’re not present.
As you go through the day, be aware of how you spend your time. This says a lot about what you value throughout your day. [tweet this]
2. Turn off automatic downloads of email.
This was a big Aha! moment for me. I’ve always preached against email notifications, but my automatic downloads continued until the recent session of Organize Your Art Biz.
When I was rewriting the “empty your inbox” lesson, it occurred to me that I was still allowing email to interrupt my workflow.
I now download messages manually when I am ready to process them. Try it!
3. Turn off the extra computer screen.
I have an extra screen that comes in handy for additional workspace, but it’s distracting when I want to focus.
4. Keep paper nearby.
I follow Mark Victor Hansen’s advice: “As soon as you think it, ink it.”
When a task unrelated to what I’m working on crosses my mind, I jot it down quickly and get back to work.
5. Take the office to the coffee shop.
When I walk into Higher Grounds Café in Golden, Colorado, I do it with purpose. I am only there to write. (I should say I’m only here to write because that’s where I am right now.)
You don’t have to go to a coffee shop to do this, although I contend it’s helpful. You can make a mental shift with a few deep breaths and some self-talk, and a physical shift by clearing out your space or moving to a different room.
Create a Buffer Zone
I give myself at least two hours of an email-free, social-media-free buffer zone before I go to bed.
Let’s face it. Lots of things in your inbox or on Facebook can stir emotions or give you ideas about things you should be doing.
This leads to restless sleep, which contributes to lack of focus.
What are your biggest challenges around focus? What changes can you make to recover your focus?