THE REASON YOU CAN’T STAY FOCUSED
Many people have dreams, and they’re inspired to be better. But when it comes to working toward a goal, there’s always some distraction: breaking news, family issues, health issues, friends — the list goes on. They all ending with the common phrase “I just can’t seem to stay focused.”
I remember that used to be my phrase too. Most of the time I couldn’t stay focused. The usual approaches to focus didn’t work for me. I had used schedules and calendars and reminders; with my name it, and none of it has worked. Maybe that’s your story, too. Maybe your personal and professional dreams have been shelved because you simply lack focus. And maybe you’re on the verge of letting these dreams slip through the cracks.
Related: 5 Reasons Why Dreams Don’t Take Off.
Your dreams are part of your identity. And when they fade away, you fade away. You just need to find your focused angle. Focus has physical, mental and emotional aspects. You’ll need to discover a more holistic approach that uncovers the root cause of focus issues, which is rarely (if ever) a lack of willpower. There are action steps you can take today to improve your powers of concentration and your ability to stay more focused on task.
Even though it’s only 2 percent of your total body weight, your brain consumes 20 percent of your energy. That’s a massive demand. And if you’re short on energy, your greedy brain is going to be the first organ to notice. You’ll feel brain fog, listlessness, impatience and ennui, not the razor-sharp focus you need to slice through your to-do list.
There are a few reasons your body may not be producing enough energy.
You can eat all you want. But if your body isn’t absorbing the nutrients and minerals, you won’t have energy. Dehydration, low stomach acid, and imbalanced gut bacteria are a few culprits in weak digestions.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to boost your digestion and increase your ability to stay more focused:
• Hydrate more frequently. Stomach acid is 90 percent water. Shoot for half your weight in ounces of water, preferably in small sips throughout the day.
• Increase your stomach acidity with apple cider vinegar before meals. Take two tablespoons in four ounces of water to boost your stomach acid and aid the breakdown of your food.
• Take probiotics. They are key players in nutrient absorption and brain activity. You can supplementing with varied strains of beneficial bacteria.
Water is essential in converting fat into energy, for lubricating your joints, and for shuttling waste out of your body. But most people, especially in urban areas are chronically dehydrated. Here are five steps you can take to stay hydrated:
• Drink warm water with lemon. Warm water expands and relaxes capillaries in your stomach and intestines, making it more readily absorbed. And the lemon provides electrolytes and minerals that support hydration.
• Eat more water-containing foods — like apples, celery, yogurt, watermelon, cantaloupes, and leafy greens.
• Eat more salt. Sodium is the electrolyte we lose most of during stress. And when you lose enough, it decreases your body’s ability to retain water. Shoot for minimally processed sea salt.
• Use an electrolyte tablet or Coconut Water. We lose electrolytes through our sweat. Nuun, a popular electrolyte replacement among athletes, provides sodium, calcium, and magnesium in proportion to what you lose through exercise.
• Known as coenzymes, B vitamins are essential for converting sugar, protein, and fat into energy. But they are one of the first nutrients to be depleted by physical or mental stress. They’re also one of our greatest nutritional deficits.
• You can replace the full B vitamin spectrum with a single supplement. Or, you can replenish your B’s through food — like eggs, spinach, and lean meats.
Once you’ve addressed your energy issues, the mental aspect of focus comes next. Whether you call it discipline, stick-to-it-iveness or perseverance, focus is a muscle that strengthens with use. Flex it often, and it won’t feel like work.
The first step to increase mental focus is to eliminate distractions. Some are insuperable — like kids and family. But everything else can be controlled. And the more of them you control, the greater focus you’ll have.
Here are a few distractions to cut out or limit immediately:
• Social media
• Aimlessly surfing the internet
• Compulsive email checking
• Dead-end relationships (romantic or otherwise)
Related: 4 Time Robbers that Affects Your Productivity
If you’ve struggled with focusing, and you make habits of any of the above, you’ll be shocked at how much more focus you’ll have when you cut them out. You’ll also be amazed at how much time these distractions consume without your being aware.
Such activities include:
• Regular exercise
• Taking notes on things that interest you
• Having fun often
• And sticking to schedules
So schedule five focus-building activities in your day alongside all the things you know you need to accomplish. Make reminders on your smart phone and computer. Enlist the help of a friend to keep you accountable in reaching your goals, or hire an accountability coach. And when you find yourself bored, or puzzled about what to do, resort to your schedule and your focus-builders. If you look back at the end of a low-focus week and wonder, “What the hell did I do?” then put a microscope to your week and search for the distractions. They’re there.
The final aspect of focus is something rarely talked about in the business world: emotions. These gossamer little things are hard to define, hard to control. And because of the challenge they pose, most people simply ignore their emotional blocks. But everyone has them.
So, if you want to be able to focus on the little steps that lead to success, you have to clear away any emotional debris that’s impeding you. The best way to do that is to acknowledge the problem — like a relationship gone sour, or a fear that’s been holding you back — and take action toward a resolution.