Do you ever feel like you can’t manage to complete a single task without being distracted? Perhaps at work you have been multi-tasking for so long, devoting your undivided attention to a simple mission feels impossible. You’ve got the phone to deal with, other employees interrupting, emails coming in that need your attention, etc.
What about at home when you are cleaning? Have you ever started cleaning the stove and while scrubbing away noticed grease splatter marks on the side of the fridge and headed that way with your scour pad, since you have it out and all. Then, before you know it you’re in the living room picking up toys off the floor when notice the dust collecting on that beautiful bookshelf in the corner.
So now you’ve got a dust rag in one hand, a toy in the other, the burners off the half-cleaned stove and one side of the fridge cleaned. All that work and not a darn thing completed! All due to a lack of focus.
Mindfulness Can be Life-changing
By now you’ve probably heard of mindfulness practices. It seems to be popping up in pretty much every area of life and focus is no different, in fact focus is key to mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is pulling your attention to the here and now and feeling the moment. Like, really feeling and experiencing.
So, let’s redirect your attention to the task at hand… mindfulness. Hey! Have you already spaced out? Are you still reading? Be real… how many times have you had to reread that last paragraph because you started thinking of something else?
Get back over here and finish! This is important and revolutionary! Your life will be forever changed!
Ok, maybe it won’t win the Nobel Peace Prize, but mindfulness for focus could actually change your life, making day to day tasks easier and increasing your joy of life, by teaching you better experience what you do, rather than mindlessly plodding through.
Lack of focus and awareness is a habit. So is mindfulness. Like all good habits it requires effort and repetition. Again, like any other good habit, it will require conscious application to begin, but will become much easier over time.
Practical Mindfulness Exercises
Let’s look at a couple of exercises. Remember, it takes practice. It doesn’t matter how many exercises you start with, but it does matter that you continue to do them daily. Once you can do these, at will, you will find other, deeper methods, such as full meditation sessions, that will add to mindfulness and make it easier to remain focused in all things.
Do them until you notice your focus is there 100% of the time for each one, and then continue them. Your experience and level of expertise will then spill over into every aspect of your life, like work and home, where you probably have the hardest time focusing.
Tricky right? Ok, there are a couple suggestions for how to make breathing a mindful exercise. Turn your focus to your actual breathing. It helps if you set an alarm on your phone or maybe do it on the hour for the even numbers: 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, etc. It only takes a minute or two.
Just breathe. Don’t do anything else. Feel your breath going in, and feel yourself exhaling. Notice your chest moving when you breathe. If you lose your focus and start thinking about all the splendors of life, pull your thoughts back to your breathing. This one is especially effective if it’s cold outside and you can physically see your breath. Or practice it on a mirror or up against a window.
Sit and Stare
This one sounds particularly weird, but it works! When you’ve mastered breathing, try going to a public place and stare. Staring means focusing on the object, not simply gazing into space. Sit in a lobby and look across the room at a painting. If you are on a park bench, stare at a tree across the way.
Maybe even narrow it down to a particular branch or leaf, if you’ve got the grit! People are going to pass by but don’t be distracted or look away from your object. Watch how it moves or how it has grooves and lines and curves. Notice the color and how it changes or stays the same. Is it wet or dry or blowing in the wind? Everything about it, notice and keep your focus. If your mind wanders, gently reel it back in and continue. You’ll be a pro before you know it!
Other Ideas for Improving Focus Through Mindfulness
There are any number of techniques to help increase your focus using mindfulness. You could listen to a song and pay special attention to the highs and lows, the rhythm, everything about it. You could even make your bed and use that in mindfulness for focus.
Feel the sheets beneath your fingertips; concentrate on how straight you’ve made the mess of covers and how neatly you’ve arranged the pillows. Brushing your teeth? Absolutely be mindful. Pay attention to each tooth as you brush each one completely. Gargle your mouthwash and feel the bubbles and how it feels tingling your throat and super clean mouth.
Mindfulness for focus is endless. It’s impossible to count the ways you can mindfully focus on a single but short task. Before long your tasks will get longer and longer and you’ll be able to regain focus quicker, without judgment. Just awareness that you’ve slipped away and a gentle nudge back to the moment. You can’t go wrong trying some of these modalities and chances are, you’re going to reap major rewards!