“The successful warrior is an average person with FOCUS” – Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee’s quote is one of my favourites, as it’s an excellent reminder that with the right plan and intense focus, anything is possible. Most importantly, all those “successful people” around you aren’t necessarily geniuses and they didn’t get where they are simply because of luck.
I’m willing to bet it took them a lot of time, effort, and mostly importantly – focus.
Why It’s So Difficult To Focus
According to the Psychology Today experts, “attention is a limited resource” and each task you do makes you less effective at the next one.
The key, quite simply, is to take away the distractions. Turn off the phone, focus on one task at a time. This article by psychologist David Rock explains how our brains deal with distractions, and recommends that we do the tougher tasks first, NOT get the easy ones out of the way before we tackle the big ones.
Think about that the next time you are wondering how you’ll ever tackle a large project!
3 Ways To Keep Your Focus
So how can you keep your focus when your mind keeps wandering? Tough question, right?
Here are three tips:
1. Find Your Motivation
Obviously, motivation makes a huge difference in terms of focus. When I focus on my blog, for example, the most amazing things happen and I get a response way more exciting than I ever expect. The difficult part, of course, is focusing on activities you’re not so motivated to do.
How can we possibly be focused on something we’re not motivated to do?
First, think “Big Picture”!
Perhaps the immediate goal isn’t so satisfying (losing a couple kilos this month, learning to swim, writing one article – whatever it is for you). However, the long term big picture is so much more than that. Resist the temptation to go for instant gratification. Trust me, patience is not a virtue I have in abundance either, but holding out for the future is often worth the wait.
Really FOCUS on the feeling of the end goal, not the goal itself. For example, I’m really focusing on the day, hopefully a year from now, I defend my PhD and walk out of that room with the panel with a smile on my face. That’s the feeling I have to envision every time I “don’t feel like” working on my project.
2. Make A Plan
Of course, thinking “Big Picture” and “Visualizing” your goals only works with a bit of future planning. That’s right, make a plan.My favourite way to do this is creating a vision board (you can check out my post on vision boards here).
3. Find Tools That Help You Focus
Now, don’t think that you have to go at it all alone. Technology is pretty great, and there are tons of tools that can help you focus. Some students I know are great fans of the old Pomodoro method (setting a timer for 45 minutes and making sure you only stop working at the timer). Personally, I prefer to use Google Calendar and checklists to schedule in my time, and use it as wisely as possible.
My Favourite Tools for Keeping on Track
No blog post on focus would be complete without a list of my favourite tools for tracking and keeping your eye on the prize!
Have you heard of Ganttology? It’s free Gantt chart software that can help you track you progress, goals and milestones. It’s also colour coded and fun!
I love Google Calendar! Colour coded, organized and so much fun; it’s how I organize my life. You can check out the details in this post on How to Stop Being Overwhelmed.
Trello is perfect for organizing my blogging ideas, and has a cool visual interface that lets me drag and drop tasks.
Forest is an app I’ve downloaded but haven’t used yet. I have friends who swear by it! Basically, it blocks you from using your phone. You “plant a tree” in the app when you want to focus, and the tree grows until you use your smartphone, at which point you’ve killed the tree.
Tracking Tools – MFP & Garmin Connect
So, I can’t finish this post without telling you how much I’m in love with my new Garmin Vivosport. Actually, I’ve only had it for a week, but I’ve been waiting for it for a couple months and it is everything I hoped for in a fitness watch. I was originally considering the Samsung Gear Fit Pro 2 for the same price.
Here’s why I chose the Vivosport :
- I have tiny wrists, and the Vivosport is the only small band available with all the functions it has (without becoming a sports watch). Since I wear it 24/7, I didn’t want a sporty watch that wouldn’t match a dress!
- It is SO light you barely feel you are wearing it
- It swims, and automatically knows when you’re running, walking, cycling and even sleeping. Wow. All recorded on a beautiful, colourful Garmin Connect app. It measures VO2 max, too, but I honestly can’t quite figure out how that’s helpful!
- Actually, it even sets goals for you based on your personal data (you can change them, of course)
- Music controls let you skip songs via Bluetooth when you’re running and streaming from your phone (If internal storage of Spotify music in a fitness band is really important to you, check out the Gear Fit Pro 2 instead)
- Vivosport reminds you when you’re behind on your goals for steps, floors climbed or calories for the day and syncs with My Fitness Pal (MFP)
- I’d be lying if I said that tracking everything doesn’t make you extra motivated not to be lazy and have the stats come up low that day
- It even yells at you to “Move!” if you’ve been sitting still (not sleeping) for more than an hour. You can turn it off, but I find it hilarious (and a great way to stay active).
My Next Steps
While I’ve been working out (with and without trainers) for years, if you’ve read my blog you’ll know that the last 2 years have been an incredible struggle for me and experts don’t know why . So, I’ve had my share of naysayers over the past few months, telling me to accept the status quo and that my goals don’t matter, because I have my health. I can’t wait to reach my goal and prove them wrong – and my Vivosport is making it fun.
If you want to grab your Vivosport on Amazon, head here. (If you’re in Canada, click here and if you’re in the UK or Europe, click here). I’d love to hear if you love your fitness tracker, and how it’s helping you keep on track, too!
What are your favourite ways to stay focused? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! (I read and respond to every comment)
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. Photo fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took at a kickboxing competition in Whitby, Oxford, in 2013.
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