Leaders: Power Up Your Focus Muscles
It’s getting increasingly more difficult to focus these days. There are too many distractions available. From cell phones, video games to social media, distractions are everywhere and makes you wonder how people can concentrate on tasks they should be doing.
Covid has taken its toll on many individual’s ability to keep their focus due to stress and anxiety they are experiencing or are exposed to – layoffs and financial concerns are still a fact; even if your job is not affected you might be worried if you are next.
The ‘new way of working’ from home is affecting productivity – in fact, according to the Institute of Stress, American workers today are reporting they are losing 2 hours daily in lost productive time. The cost to companies is staggering. Leaders may be struggling in their clarity due to the many stressful decisions and shifting that needs to happen daily.
While these facts are alarming, there is good news: you can learn to be more focused, productive, and motivated – you just have to learn how to power up your focus muscles. Our brain is like a muscle – it needs strengthened daily to keep it supple and functioning properly.
This actually relates to neuroplasticity, which is the ability to strengthen the neural networks in our brain to grow and reorganize our thoughts; this leads to being clearer and having the energy and clarity to move forward on tasks you take on. It’s brain-training at the core. Learning something new is one way to strengthen your brain – here are a few others you can adopt in your routine; the more you do them, the better your brain will be.
!. We tend to work better in spurts; our brains get tired during intense, sustained concentration. Therefore, take time to monitor when you are at your optimum, which will be different for each person. Some people can work for a full hour while others will do better with 15-minute intervals. Assess your time management during the day and when you are most productive – is that the morning, the afternoon, or do you come alive in the evening. Knowing this will get you moving and getting more done when you have more energy and focus.
One technique you can use is the Pomodoro Method, where you work for 20 minutes, then you take a break, then come back and work 20 minutes, then a break and so on. I think using a timer, such as one you get a the dollar store, keeps you on task (I like to hear the ticking noise). This is great brain-training to work to capacity without the pressure.
2. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you need to correct that. All other techniques to help you focus will be useless if you don’t. Your body needs the right amount of sleep. Lack of sleep will make your mind wander, and focusing won’t happen.
Try to go to bed and get up every day at the same time. Our bodies adjust easily to routines, such as these. Again, people have different needs when it comes to sleep. You may only need six hours while others may need more or less. Again, take an assessment of your sleep patterns so you know how to adjust. If you struggle to get sleep, consider seeking out professional help, as there may be a medical problem or underlying stress going on.
3. If you don’t practice good eating habits, your foods won’t give you the proper amount of energy. That will cause you to be sluggish which will affect your ability to focus. Sugar is one habit to curtail or give up, as it has a negative impact on the brain, not to mention the risk of diabetes and other health issues.
It’s okay to eat the occasional sin snack, as they call it. But, this should not be a regular habit. While it’s great to learn which foods boost your energy, you need to balance your diet for optimal focusing. As we need to move between the two spheres of our brain (right, left), there are certain foods that can help the ‘gear shifter’ needed in this movement: eating fish once a week, antioxidants (fruits, vegetables), some red meat is ok in moderation, and cooking with either olive oil or grape seed oil, will keep your brain supple and function better overall.
One other consideration on brain function – are you drinking enough water? Our brains sit in liquid, so if you’re not getting enough during the day, the brain tends to shrink leading to all kinds of concentration issues.
4. To continue on the peak concentration path, make sure you add regular exercises to your routines and ones that include aerobics. It’s a proven fact that regular exercise will boost your stamina; it raises the endorphins and other hormones, such as dopamine, which your focus will benefit from this boost. You don’t have to participate in extreme sports to get the benefits of exercise. Regular long walks will do wonders, or you can dance – my favorite form of exercise. Doing something that raises your heart and natural hormones helps to support healthy brain function.
5. After you have all the routine items in place, consider adding meditation into the mix. Once you learn how to meditate it starts to be effective (this takes time); I recommend starting with mindfulness practices where you start small, such as two minutes, to just sit and focus on your breath. This calms both the brain and body; it’s a great energy boost to add in your day so now you can deal with making good business decisions or dealing with a difficult customer or employee.
Adding these to your ‘tool box’ will help to clear your head and help your body relax. Your focusing muscles will be primed for optimal use when you have all of these factors implemented. Using them daily will create new, healthy routines and prime your brain for success.
Elite Leadership Success Institute focuses on enhancing performance and ensuring that leaders, and their people, have the tools and resources they need to be more effective and satisfied with the work they do and the organization they do it in. Leadership starts in the mind, so if you’re ready to uplevel your leadership, then reach out to start a conversation to see how e to work with us. We are committed to your success!