Focus and Finish

Focus and Finish

It can be hard to feel any level of daily satisfaction when it seems like your to-do list never diminishes. Part of what gets in the way is the difficulty most of us have in focusing—and remaining focused—in light of the many distractions at the office.

When you get to work, determine which 1 major item you will make progress on that day. Set up your environment to make it easier to focus. Block your calendar. Shut your door. Face away from your screen(s). Mute your devices. Don’t answer the phone—you can check your texts/email when you’re finished with your task. You will be surprised how hard this is—mainly because of all the chatter running through your brain.

Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story, has a solution to that problem. Meditation. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, just a daily commitment to practice:

“As a beginner, I noticed two main benefits. The first was focus. I found that the daily exercise of meditation (which involves attempting to focus on one thing at a time, usually your breath, and then starting over every time you get distracted) really helped me stay on task in my job, which can be very demanding.”

And since you’re wondering, the second benefit was mindfulness. “Mindfulness is the ability to see what’s happening in your head at any given moment without getting carried away by it,” Harris says. “This is a game-changer. It allows you—some percentage of the time—not to be totally governed by the voice in your head….mindfulness helps you respond wisely to the stimuli in your life rather than reacting blindly.”

Self-management is one of the most difficult skills to master. Give yourself 2 weeks of meditation practice—10 minutes a day—and see what impact it has on your ability to focus and finish.

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