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Achieving focus in the midst of Covid-19

Achieving focus in the midst of Covid-19

Achieving focus in the midst of Covid-19 2500 1309 Notable Communications

2020 is almost done! Perhaps more than ever before, Covid-19 has forced us to reassess how we live our lives. It made us slow down (at least for a while) before catapulting us into entirely different ways of working, problem-solving, and simply living… Those of us who embraced working from home (WFH) are feeling the effects of burnout and fatigue. We’re struggling to find a balance between working and taking time off and time out.

While the list of all the things you want to do, see, accomplish, and complete this year may have changed drastically, you probably still want to achieve them at some stage. The question is: How?

Your list is long, and time seems increasingly limited. While it is tempting to get started on several tasks at once, that approach is not going to do you any favours. The key to achieving your goals and aims is actually intensive focus – not frenetic multitasking.

Multitasking requires a significant mental exertion, which is neither sustainable nor productive. If you are a chronic multitasker, this is why you have days when you are completely exhausted even if you slept well the night before. The brain is an organ which is affected by stress in similar ways to other organs. The brain also regulates our stress and mood systems and responses and, if we don’t pay attention to them, we can end up doing a lot of harm. This is particularly true in the context of the global pandemic wave we’re surfing.

The starting point for intensive focus is the cultivation of internal and external environments which support it. In a world that glorifies “busyness”, and condones practices which allow people to behave in ways that would ordinarily be socially and culturally unacceptable, complete focus is difficult to attain (and maintain). These are some of the tools you can use:

  1. Take a deep breath and start small. Deep breathing and breath control is a scientifically-proven way to calm ourselves down, and get ourselves focused on the task or situation at hand. Yoga and Tai Chi can support you in making this practice a regular feature in your life – just make sure you research the different types/forms before signing up.
  2. Learn to break tasks up into manageable chunks. We feel overwhelmed when things seem too large, convoluted, or when we can’t immediately understand the scope. Tasks are easier to complete when they are broken into smaller parts. Prioritise what needs to be done, then focus on achieving small milestones.
  3. Use an app to regulate, measure, and even reward, your productivity. While this sounds simple enough, it is challenging for people accustomed to regularly checking their DMs, emails, social media accounts, and other distractions, to be truly productive. Try these free apps: do, Asana, Todoist, IFTTT, or Google Keep, or hire a personal productivity person (PPP).
  4. Clear the clutter. The beginning of a new year is one of the best times to get rid of things you no longer need, and freeing up your physical space often frees mental space too. Remember your local charities and recycling depots when clearing up.
  5. Learn to say ‘Yes’ – but only to the right things. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do and accomplish. This will be a lot simpler once you become truly productive, and see the benefits of being productive. Productivity also brings with it the advantage of knowing how your time is spent – allowing you to plan and prepare for tasks better.

So, while things are still uncertain, ambiguous, and chaotic around us, we are still in control of how we respond to stimuli and situations. Face masks, hand sanitisers, and social distancing practices are likely to be around for some time – but they don’t necessarily mean that we have to put off living our lives the way we want. Start with changing your focus, and then follow the steps listed above. They’ll change your thinking and your life.

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