Yet there are so many of us who have difficulty knowing how to start or work when we:
- have too much on our plate
- feel too tired
- would rather check Instagram
- would rather check what’s in the refrigerator
- feel frustrated by our work
- feel afraid of our work
- get overwhelmed by our feelings about our work
The solution to overwhelm is relatively simple.
In working with psychotherapy patients and coaching clients, I have noticed the general tendency in other people to make things complicated. I have that tendency strongly myself.
This can mean a lot of things, including:
- imagining that the end product needs to be perfect
- examining every possible avenue that can be used to do the work
- spending excessive amounts of time thinking about the project without actually working on it
- interviewing everyone around you for their opinions about your task
- overworking and making ourselves exhausted
Any of this sound familiar? So what’s the solution?
Breaking things down into simpler behaviors, strategies, and approaches tends to help both my clients and me to cope with the stress brought on by work.
We find a small action step to take, put it in our schedule, and make it happen. Simple as that.
Once we have started working, our stress tends to ease up. As a result, we then are naturally more inclined to focus on what is in front of us. The view ahead is clear.
And that is awesome. There are even more strategies to use when we feel like we can get started…
5 simple strategies to improve your focus and attention span
When people ask for my help for problems with anxiety and distractibility, these are some of the pieces of advice I give:
1. Your drama with your work does not get it done. In fact, it acts as interference, or a wall. You block your ability to focus when you concentrate on your anxious and perfectionistic thoughts. So much time is lost to the drama, you end up having little or no time left to do real work. Give up the drama and improve your focus instantly.
2. Don’t make your work more important than it is. It may help to relieve the stress you are feeling to remind yourself, “It’s just boring work.” Your work is simply asking to be done. Remember, there is no drama needed. Adopt a calm, neutral approach to all your work.
3. Have clear boundaries between work and the rest of your life. When work worries and procrastination extend into the areas outside of your work life, you can lose way more than productivity. You lose the chance to refresh and to recharge, to feel calm, and to feel accomplished. When you re-establish good boundary lines between work and the rest of your life, you will experience improved focus in both areas.
4. Decide that what you do is between you and the work. Your teacher, your mother, your neighbor, and your twin brother are not involved in your work. They might see it and comment on it after you’re done, but you should feel free to produce and to create the work without their influence weighing on you.
5. We do our work to share it with other people. Orient yourself towards doing good work so you can share it with those around you. See your work as a kind of gift to other people, rather than seeing it as a mechanism for those people to judge and to criticize you. Remember, no drama, just good work from you.
If after reading the list of 5 simple strategies, you still feel overwhelmed at the thought of work, please remember that emotions are fleeting. They are brief reactions and internal expressions that will not last forever.
Once you start your work and you go step-by-step to the finish line, you won’t be so overwrought with feelings. The anxiety will start to fade. It might linger a bit until you finish, but then it’s done. It’s just gone. It is taken care of by the fact that you were able to work. I think this should be a universal law because I’ve seen it happen time after time — we feel better once we have challenged our fears and removed our obstacles to working well.
Nike has such a good slogan with “Just Do It.”
They didn’t say “Do It Like a Champion.”
They said “Just Do It.” Drop your drama, do your work for the work’s sake. You can improve your focus and attention span by limiting how much your worries creep in. Enjoy working smoothly from now on.
News to Share
1. If you feel you need some support in your own efforts to improve your focus and attention, join us in the Procrastination Coach Facebook Group where we share tips and stories and keep each other accountable every week. It’s a wonderful, supportive group of people.
2. I’ve designed a Mindset Management Worksheet downloadable PDF to help you develop a positive mindset for yourself. Keep it handy as you start to improve your focus and to get more done in your day.