An average mind goes through about 60,000 thoughts a day while only a fraction of these are actually directed towards achieving a particular goal with 95% of these thoughts are the same ones that the person had yesterday! We all suffer from the mind-wandering where we are unable to focus on one thought and we let our mind go astray. Imagine what a human being can achieve if he can direct most of his 60,000 thoughts per day in a predetermined direction, rewards of this action can be overwhelming! Like most, I too, suffered from mind-wandering and lost focus, so I decided to learn a few techniques that are actually useful to improve focused thinking, here they are:
- Avoid Distractions
Admit it, our number one cause of the lost focus are the distractions that surround us. These may be in the form of our beloved cell phone device or a call on the landline or may be a physical unannounced interruption in the office. These distractions are everywhere. So, if you are really determined to work your way on a particular thought, turn off your mobile device or if that is not possible, put it in on silent mode and place it in a drawer for a few minutes or as long as you need to. If you are at the office and don’t want to be disturbed, put the landline receiver aside, display a note on your office door/cubicle saying “I’m in a telecom, (or something) Do not disturb” – Does this sounds rude? It may be, but all the world beaters are committed to the task at hand so much that they guard their time with the most vicious zeal and intent! And distractions are the very core of time wastage, avoid them at all costs!
It is also recommended to always keep your mobile phone on silent mode with data or wifi turned off to avoid all the noise and distractions mobile beeps might cause – more on the internet later.
- Practice the silent sitting
Some might refer to it as meditation, one of the ways to improve your focused thinking is to sit in silence for a few moments in the day and concentrate on just one thought. Renowned author and trainer Robin Sharma suggests a similar technique called the “Heart of the Rose” technique. It goes like this; early in the morning, take a rose and sit in a silent room while staring at the heart of the rose, banish every other thought from your mind, just focus on the rose, its beauty, its color, its fragrance… Recommended time for this practice is about 10 minutes.
- Schedule your online time
We can’t be naïve anymore to ignore havoc our online addiction is causing in our lives, be it personal or professional it degrades the quality of each of these aspects of our lives. Now how to do this? Sit down with a planner copy and a pencil, write down your current online schedule, if you don’t know it, just write down whatever you did yesterday and highlight your online hours from it, now determine how many of those were actually spent in a positive way, a way that had profound effect on your life and human being in general, if most of it was spent just scrolling around – mind it, you are on the edge of the cliff, take immediate action!
A question that I asked myself and you might have it as well, “I might miss some engaging conversation on the WhatsApp groups? – those are important to stay updated, right?” well not as much as we might think. Here is what you should do with them, put all groups in mute mode. Then seek which groups are actually useful, exit useless – just for fun type of groups. Then see which groups overlap in terms of their contents, if same posts are being shared in different groups, it’s better to leave most of those groups and maintain them at a bare minimum.
Now is the time to make a clean schedule of your time with a targeted approach for each period spent online. Mention what do you want to do when you switch on the internet, at – let’s say 10 am, it might be to check mail or post something useful or connect to a loved one. Do not just go online as a pill to kill your boredom.
If you want to go one step further then you can practice tech-free hours (no cell phone, tablet, laptop, tv for an hour or more)
- Practice 20-20-20 rule
Doctors commonly recommended this practice for easing the eye strain. It is equally relevant in taking the strain off your mind; every 20 minutes take a break to stare for 20 seconds at an object which is 20 feet away. This helps you recharge and get back your focus while rest of the noise that had started to build fades away.
- Avoid multi-tasking
While most see multi-tasking as an added advantage – world’s most coveted achievers absolutely loathe it. Some studies suggest that while switching from one task to another, it might take you up to 20 minutes to fully shift your focus from the previous task. So, if you are jumping tasks every 5 to 10 minutes, you are never truly focused on any of them – as a result, the product of all our effort is actually mediocre.
- Enjoy the scenery!
Remember when people used to gather just to lie down on grass and gaze at the stars? Pleasant sceneries like a lake, beach, mountains, stars or even just the wide blue sky have a profound effect on one’s state of mind. Looking at such landscapes help relax the mind and get rid of all the negative thoughts taking place in the mind – it acts as a recharge for the concentration power. Psychologists suggest to have such an experience at least for a minute every day while doing this, some even suggest to picture yourself with what you aim to achieve, be it a professional achievement or any personal hallmark, picture yourself as a super-achiever, absolutely triumphing those obstacles and rising above all doubts and uncertainties.
And… bonus point!
- Stay still
Fidgeting or playing with your hair or rocking your feet or turning the ballpoint pen on and off are signs of a chaotic mind and a chaotic mind produces messy results. Calm your body and flush all the negative thoughts you are having about your situation.
There you go, hope these will help you achieve your goals much quicker with more quality to the end product!
About the author:
Tariq Nisar is an HSE professional and trainer; he is an avid reader and writer, experienced trainer and a brilliant public speaker.