How to stop your mind wandering
You’d have thought, wouldn’t you, that to stop your mind wandering and get anything done, especially in this fast-paced environment we live in today, you’d need to strengthen your ‘focus muscle’?
Failure to focus – fast-track to miserable failure
After all, distractions are all around us, and the experts say that hours of time are lost in businesses as employees struggle to cope with a multitude of tasks and demands on our attention.
And it is a struggle because we are hardwired to give into distractions. Our ancestors survived because they would notice and act upon the things that took their sudden and immediate attention.
We are not machines! And our brains aren’t designed for the continual laser focus we seem to think we should have. Sometimes they work much better if you give them free rein to daydream!
Intentionally allowing your mind to wander at strategic points allows your unconscious mind to work its magic. Who wouldn’t want to be in a better mood, have more motivation, boost creativity, solve problems and learn faster and make fewer mistakes?
The secret is to intentionally allow your mind to wander off to contemplate a specific issue while being in ‘the zone’. People usually find it easiest to do this while engaged in low attention activities such as making a cup of tea, walking to the station or feeding the ducks!
By contrast, our brains are designed to concentrate only for short periods of time, and so trying too hard can result in your finding it impossible to focus at all!
So instead, you need to remind yourself to relax, because that’ll help you accesses the part of your brain that allows you optimum focus for maximum time. That’s the ideal learning zone that I help clients access, whether learning effective study skills or engaged in personal therapy. Relaxed focus is the key.
That’s all very well, but what should you do if you really do find it difficult to concentrate sufficiently to get things done?
If you think you really do have a daydreaming problem here are some ways to help your brain to focus naturally – the way that it is designed to do.
Never underestimate the importance. Several studies have shown that tiredness impairs our performance as much as being drunk. (A fun list of euphemisms for being intoxicated here.)
And if you are a student, investing your precious time revising, you need regular, good quality and sufficient sleep for the stuff you’re learning to be consolidated in your long-term memory. So much so, that research suggests you’re better off having a nap before an exam than attempting a last-minute cram.
Many people make promises to themselves of a reward, hoping to motivate themselves to get a task completed. We now know that it is more motivating to focus on the satisfaction of completing the assignment itself, rather than kidding yourself with a treat that has no relationship to the activity.
However, if you are determined to use this strategy, at least make sure you don’t set yourself up for small rewards throughout the activity. This has been shown to fail more often than not. If you must bribe yourself, make sure you arrange for a bigger reward, but only when you have seen that activity through to the end. And more likely to succeed if you team up with an accountability buddy who will keep you going whenever your enthusiasm wanes.
Click on the article below to discover other strategies for maintaining focus.