Improve your focus to make better decisions to save yourself time. Sure, it sounds great. And I know you know that improving your focus, making better decisions, and saving yourself time are all good things that you want in your life. But making them happen can be the challenge.
I’ve found that when it comes to trying new things, people fall onto a spectrum of thinking.
On one end of the spectrum, you have the person who wants to believe right away that this new thing is going to improve their life. They immediately jump to thinking, “this is it, this is the secret I’ve been waiting for, it’s what everyone else knows that I don’t.” If you’re this person, you’re an “all in, give me all the hacks, just tell me what to do” kind of person.
The person on the other end of the spectrum is a bit more skeptical and wants to see some proof. Before you waste your time on improving your focus, you might need a little more convincing that it’s actually something that’s going to save you some time. Otherwise, you’ve spent time you didn’t have in the first place.
Dare to Be Extreme
Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I think most of us like to believe we do too. But what if I were to tell you that hanging out in the middle there is actually causing you to waste some time?
It’s true, middle of the spectrum thinkers, or indecisive people, spend an average of more than two years trying to decide what to do (1). This indecisiveness is typically caused by having too many choices. It can also come about after having already made too many choices in a day (decision fatigue).
One way to be more decisive is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make and reduce the number of choices in front of you. You do this by improving your focus, honing in on what decisions and choices are most important, and eliminating the rest. If you can focus on what you’re doing and what you are trying to achieve, rather than everything else going on around you, you’ll find that you tend to work faster and to a higher standard. Here are six ideas to help you improve your focus and make better, faster decisions.
Meditation Helps Train Your Brain to Focus
- Practice Meditation – Learning to meditate can go far in helping you improve your focus. Even if you don’t know how to meditate, taking a deep breath while clearing your mind before you transition to any new activity will enhance your focus exponentially.
Before you balk at this idea and claim you can’t meditate or don’t have time, here me out. Meditation does not have to take up hours of your day. You don’t have to be in some knotted up pose or wear any yoga pants to do it. Have 5 minutes before your next appointment, take that time to meditate. Feeling the stress from all the noise in your house, slip into the pantry or a closet for a few minutes and meditate.
Meditating feels like a big scary word, but in reality it’s the simple act of focusing on your breathing and tuning out other noises, thoughts, and sensations. And it’s never going to be perfect. You are going to be like everyone else who meditates and you will have thoughts creep in and you’ll lose focus on your breath and you’ll find yourself getting distracted. That’s normal. Be forgiving to yourself, notice the distraction, and then turn your attention back to your breathing. The more you practice meditation, the easier it will be for you to pop in and out of a meditative state and the longer you’ll be able to stay focused on your breath. And that my friend is when the magic starts to happen with more focus, faster decisions, and time saved.
Learn more about meditation and other ways to reduce your overwhelm in my free downloadable ebook, “Cool, Calm, and Confident”.
To-Do Lists Are Your Time Saver and Focus Maker
- Well Made To-Do Lists – When you make a to-do list, it should be thought out and planned. So be sure to make time for planning out your to do list. This is most often the biggest forgotten step. That’s when you find yourself frantically writing down everything that pops into your head. This method never fails to fail you and things get missed.
Making your to do list work for you is also a key missed step. Too often you think that others who are successful must have a secret formula for how they get their stuff done. And you try to emulate exactly what they do. But what you’re missing is that their to-do list and schedule for the day was created to suit them.
So go ahead and take some plays out of their playbook. Be sure to create your own play by play for the day according to how and when you work best for each item on your list. For example, if you need to do some data entry and you know you are better at that in the morning, schedule it for the morning.
Moving Your Body Makes Room For More Focus
- Move Your Body – One way to clear your mind and focus before you start something is to get some exercise. I’m not telling you that you have to have a planned out exercise program every day at 4 AM. I’m just saying move your body.
Moving your body pumps more oxygen around. Doing this before heavy mind work is a great way to improve concentration. Go for a leisurely walk in nature to help you get focused. Stand up and stretch or do some toe touches and jumping jacks at your desk between activities. Do a speed clean of your bathroom. Get creative, anything goes.
Clutter Distracts From Your Focus
- Declutter Your Environment – Studies show that if your environment is cluttered, it will be challenging to focus. Clutter causes stress and anxiety. Having either of these in your life make it difficult for you to focus.
Instead, design your environment around how you work and the tasks you need to accomplish each day. Don’t worry about what it looks like to other people. They’re not going to take off points at the home and garden show if your house is organized differently than what appears in the magazine.
Breaking Up Your Work Improves Focus
- Take a Break – If you have trouble focusing, add in planned breaks at least between tasks. And break up longer tasks with breaks too. There are ample studies that show improvements in focus when working in sprints of anywhere from 25 to 90 minutes. You have to find your sweet spot for how long you can work before needing to take a break. When you do this regularly, it helps you switch your mind and train it to move on from the last thing to the next thing.
Breaks look like whatever you want them to look like. I recommend (for efficiency’s sake) to try combining your breaks with moving your body and/or meditating like we’ve already mentioned.
Get more ideas on how to rest your mind and body in my free downloadable ebook, “Cool, Calm, and Confident”.
Mind Your Mind and Ask For Help When You Need It
- Declutter Your Mind – Similar to decluttering your environment, cleaning up and organizing your thoughts has decision making and focus benefits. If you have a lot of thoughts circling through your mind, it will be hard to focus. Depending on your season of life and nature of your thoughts, you may need professional help. Counselors and coaches (like me) are there to help you move past any sticking point issues. If you’re struggling with organization, time management, or overwhelm, book a free call with me. Let’s see how my coaching services can help you.
Using these ways to improve your focus will go a long way in helping you accomplish more. It gives you time to do more of the good stuff and do less of the frustrating stuff. Remember, don’t stay in the middle where the wishy-washy indecision is costing you your precious time.
I’d love to hear from you. What works best for you to improve your focus and decision making skills? Share it in the comments below.
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