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7 Wise Ways to Find Focus and Get Things Done

7 Wise Ways to Find Focus and Get Things Done
    Focus to Get Things Done

    It has to be one of mankind’s greatest challenges; staying focused in the fast paced, technology driven world we are living in. Information overload, a common phenomenon, work overload another. But staying focused is perhaps the best way for us to get things done and move forward with our lives and our jobs. So how do we keep our eye on the ball when it’s accustomed to bouncing around from court to court?

    Focus on one thing

    “He who chases two rabbits catches none” – Confucius

    Wise words from a wise man, but most of us will relate to chasing maybe a dozen rabbits at the same time and a couple of elephants. But if we are to follow the wise words of Confucius we will get more done and achieve our goals quickly. Working on more than one thing at a time will waste valuable time. When we switch from one task to another, it takes our brain time to readjust and concentrate on the second task and precious time is lost in the changeover. The reality being that multitasking is a productivity nightmare.

    Eliminate known distractions

    Last week I suggested an information detox to help us recognize the amount of information that we consume is unnecessary. A detox also helps us to unwind and relax, an essential part of focus and concentration. If you need to get work done, disconnect from technology. Turn off all notifications and reminders of emails and tweets etc. Take control of all communication and social media and only go to them when you are ready to spend time there. It’s not good to get notifications –  human beings are not strong enough to ignore these teasers.

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    Calm the mind

    One of our biggest distractions is not as you may have thought – Facebook – it is our own thoughts racing through our minds when we are trying to get something done. These cheeky thoughts often tempt us away from the job that needs doing, or they annoyingly and repeatedly inform while we are working on task A that task B, C and D remain unfinished. Don’t listen, take control of your thoughts and redirect them to the job at hand. A great way to still the mind is meditation. It can help to silence the constant chat we all experience from time to time. It can be a great assistance to focus.

    De-clutter

    De-cluttering is another way to eliminate distractions, if your desk, office and head are clear, you are minimising the possibilities for distractions. I always start my week by cleaning my office, anything that was left lying around from the past week needs to be dealt with, you need to know that there is nothing you have forgotten about or left undone. If you get into the habit of doing a weekly de-clutter or in GTD terms a weekly review, you can start the week relaxed, focused and ready for action.

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    Exercise

    We all know exercise creates energy; it is also a powerful way to reduce stress, as endorphins are released by the pituitary gland to block out feelings of pain or stress. Serotonin, another chemical released while exercising, improves our mood and our sense of happiness. Exercise is also responsible for the creation of new neurons in the brain which enable us to process and store information more easily.

    Clarification of Goals

    Being clear about our goals and objectives will help us focus and stay on track. It motivates us to continue and persist when we are lacking the inspiration. If your goals is to de-clutter your home and be more organized, your objective maybe to reduce stress and induce calm. For another person the objective may be because they are putting their house up for sale and need the house looking good and attractive. It’s important to clarify your objectives in order to maintain the motivation and ensure that what you are working on is getting you closer to that goal.

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    Simplify

    The more we simplify our lives and our jobs, the more work we get done. But we don’t just want to get work done, we want to get the important tasks done, the tasks that make a difference to the big picture. Many of us busy ourselves doing tasks that are unnecessary, wasting time on things that aren’t adding value to our lives or our jobs. If you can simplify and eliminate the unnecessary from your life you will have more time to focus on what is important, and it will also become a lot easier to maintain this focus.

    What other methods do you use to stay focused?

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    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on September 23, 2020

    5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

    5 Reasons for Your Facebook Addiction (and How to Break It)

    Facebook is embedded into lives around the world. We use it to connect with friends, share important milestones, and check in with the news. However, what may seem like harmless scrolling can become harmful if it takes up inordinate amounts of time and turns into a Facebook addiction.

    The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the symptoms and psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below you’ll find the common causes, and the good news is that, once you’ve identified them, you can implement specific strategies to get over your Facebook addiction.

    Symptoms of a Facebook Addiction

    Do you find that the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your phone and scroll through Facebook? Is it the last thing you see before falling asleep? You may have a Facebook addiction. Here are some more of the signs and symptoms[1]:

    • You end up spending hours on Facebook, even when you don’t mean to.
    • You use Facebook to escape problems or change your mood.
    • You go to sleep later because you’re glued to your screen.
    • Your relationships are suffering because you spend more time on your phone than you do talking with the people you care about.
    • You automatically pull out your phone when you have free time.

    You can check out this TED Talk by Tristan Harris to understand how Facebook and other social media gain and hold our attention:

    Psychological Reasons for a Facebook Addiction

    A compulsive Facebook addiction doesn’t come out of nowhere. There are often root causes that push you into Facebook, which can ultimately manifest as an addiction once you become dependent on it. Here are some of the common causes.

    Procrastination

    Facebook can cause procrastination, but many times, your tendency to procrastinate can lead you to scrolling through your Facebook feed.

    Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate[2] by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing.

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    Thus, it might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to be social or kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn’t sound as tempting now, right?

    Loneliness or Indecision

    Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. Do you really need to tell everybody what you ate for lunch? I doubt it.

    You don’t share such trivial details to add value to people’s lives. You’re likely doing it because you’re lonely and in need of attention or approval[3].

    Seeking opinions from your friends could be a sign of indecision or low self-confidence. If you get a bad suggestion, then you can conveniently blame somebody else, thus protecting your ego.

    Social Comparisons

    Social comparison is a natural part of being human[4]. We need to know where we stand in order to judge our rank among our peers. And Facebook has made this all too easy.

    When we get into Facebook, our brains are bombarded by hundreds of people to compare ourselves to. We see our cousin’s amazing vacation to Europe, our friend’s adorable baby, our brother’s new puppy, etc. Everything looks better than what we have because, of course, people are only going to post the best parts.

    This extreme form of social comparison with a Facebook addiction can, unfortunately, lead to depression. One study pointed out that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook because they feel badly when comparing themselves to others”[5].

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    People-Pleasing

    Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification[6]. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things.

    Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior if overproduced. Thus, becoming a slave to your notifications can destroy your self-control in a hurry.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, the human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a “Like,” your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you’ll turn into an addict desperate for another “hit.”

    Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your Facebook feed during a date because you don’t want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive because a friend might have something exciting to share.

    One study found that “a high level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are predictors of Facebook intrusion, while a low level of fear of missing out and high narcissism are related to satisfaction with life”[7].

    Therefore, while you may feel temporarily glad that you didn’t miss something, research shows that FOMO will actually reduce your overall life satisfaction.

    How to Break a Facebook Addiction

    Now that you know some of the causes of a Facebook addiction, you may be ready to break it. If so, follow these 5 steps to get over your addiction and improve your mental health.

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    1. Admit the Addiction

    You can’t fix a problem if you deny it exists. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you’re a Facebook addict. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed.

    Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

    2. Be Mindful of Triggers

    In order to discover the triggers that lead you to use Facebook, ask yourself the following questions. It may be helpful to write them down at a journal.

    • What did I do? (scrolling, sharing, notification checking, etc.)
    • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
    • What happened right before? (a stressful event, boredom, etc.)
    • How did this make me feel? (stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc.)

    Once you’re aware of what pushes you to use Facebook, you can work on tackling those specific things to get over your Facebook addiction.

    3. Learn to Recognize the Urge

    Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is (a habitual behavior—NOT a conscious decision). This is especially powerful when you complete step 2 because you’ll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play.

    Have a plan for when you feel the desire to use Facebook. For example, if you know you use it when you’re bored, plan to practice a hobby instead. If you use it when you’re stressed, create a relaxation routine instead of jumping on Facebook.

    4. Practice Self-Compassion

    Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted.

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    Self-loathing can only lead to failure. You might end up deciding it’s hopeless because you are “too lazy.”  If you want to break your addiction for good, then you need to be self-compassionate.

    5. Replace the Addiction With a Positive Alternative

    It’s a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you decide on a good habit that you would like to replace it with. I applied this idea by choosing to pick up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed.

    The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in the first day! Trust me when I say those “few minutes of down-time” can add up to an obscene amount of waste.

    Having a specific metric to track is important. If you want to stay encouraged, you need to have compelling evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

    For example, download an app to help you determine exactly how much time is spent on Facebook so you know how much of your life you’re losing to it. Then, when you find a healthy alternative, you can feel good about all the time you’re giving to it!

    Final Thoughts

    Facebook addictions aren’t uncommon in today’s technologically dependent world. In the pursuit of human connection, we’ve mistakenly taken our interactions online, thinking it would be an easier alternative. Unfortunately, this is no replacement for genuine, face-to-face interaction in real life.

    If you think you have a problem, there are things you can do to tackle it. Get started today and improve your overall well-being.

    More on How to Use Social Media Less

    Featured photo credit: Tim Bennett via unsplash.com

    Reference

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