Blog Short #5: A quick way to enhance your focus and reduce your stress.

Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!

We’re moving into the holiday season which can be lots of fun, but it can also get pretty stressful as we add more things to our to-do lists.

A great way to reduce that stress is to practice focusing on one thing at a time.

I know it’s not always possible, but based on the way the brain actually works, we can’t focus on two things at once. We simply shift our attention back and forth from one thing to the other, and that shifting action takes both energy and time as we disengage and then reengage. This dilutes our focus and extends the time it takes to get something done.

Multi-tasking also reduces our effectiveness so that we don’t do things as well as we could if we focused on just one thing.

Do This

Practice making a conscious effort to focus your attention on everything you do during the day in a single-minded way. If you’re making coffee, just focus on that. If you have a list of things to do in the morning before leaving the house, focus on each one individually while you’re doing it. Get deliberate about it.

The tendency is to run your list through your head at the same time you’re doing something on that list. This creates mental static.

When your mind is stirred up by multiple things at the same time, you create overload.

Your body tenses, blood pressure rises, breathing can quicken, muscles tighten, and emotionally you feel overwhelmed.

Try instead to keep your mind focused only on the task you’re doing, and then go to the next one with the same focus. You won’t get less done, you’ll get more done and be less stressed doing it.

It is helpful to write out your list so you can be assured you won’t forget anything. Write it and then forget it until you need to look again.

About Noise

It’s also helpful to reduce noise. If you like the TV on in the background, fine, but if you have it very loud and you’re listening to it while doing other things, you’re actually dividing your attention and upping your stress.

You can do simple things like fold laundry and watch TV at the same time without problems, but with more complex activities, the noise can be taxing.

Music may be easier and some people do really enjoy having music on in the background, or use music for certain tasks such as housecleaning which actually makes it more fun!

That’s fine, but the idea is to carefully assess whether the noise you have going on while you’re doing things is a distraction that creates stress or not. If it is, ditch it.

I’ve found that classical music in the background makes my cooking enjoyable, but if the volume is just a little too loud, it becomes a stressor instead of an enhancer. There’s a sweet spot. You have to find that.

At the same time, any music or TV on while I’m writing is a no-no. Brain work does not go well with background noise.

Try today to consciously focus on what you’re doing all day long, one thing at a time, and see for yourself whether you feel less stressed. True focus is calming, and you’ll be more efficient and effective which is a bonus!

If you want to read more on this subject, I’d suggest The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s a wonderful book!

See you next week!

All my best,

Barbara

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