By ALLIE MYSZKA
More often than not, my answer to the question of, “How are you?” is a heavy sigh, followed by, “Good, but busy.” Aren’t we all just trying to keep up these days? If you’re anything like me and you feel like your brain is being pulled in a million different directions, it can be hard to get anything done, let alone all those things floating in your head.
What if we took a mindful moment to bring our focus back to one task at hand? What does that look like? Where can you begin?
Stop to breathe.
It may sound simple, but physically disrupting your racing, scattered mind with deep breathing can certainly be effective. Close your eyes—even if only for a few moments—and focus on your breathing. Fill your lungs, and then push out every bit of air from them. This can slow you down physically, but it can also become meditative. In meditation, it’s a common practice to think of your thoughts as passing clouds in a sky. Do the same for your own thoughts until they slow down—let the thoughts pass through your mind as you focus on letting them go.
Keep a notepad close by.
I often get distracted by tasks I want to complete, especially as I walk through my home or office. On my way to let the dog out, I see the laundry in the basket, and immediately stop to fold it. In the midst of writing an email, I remember that I wanted to ask a friend to dinner. I stop writing my email and pick up my phone to text her, and soon after, I’ve been texting my friend for ten minutes while my email still sits half written. To remedy this, I keep a notepad and pen close to me at all times—on my desk, on my nightstand, and even in the kitchen while I make dinner. When something enters my head—like a task I need to do or a person I need to call—I scribble it down on my notepad quickly and then carry on with the task I was working on. At the end of the day, I go through that list and complete all the tasks at once. This makes me far more efficient—and focused during my workday—than I would be if I stopped as I thought of things.
Figure out what kind of sound helps you work best.
Sometimes, our brains need help quieting down. Try working with lyrical or non-lyrical music or soundscapes of different genres, and see what types of sounds or songs provide just enough noise to break the silence in your workspace. You may even try different types of background noise or music depending on what type of task you’re working on. Experiment and see what helps you.
Ask coworkers or family for “quiet hours.”
Are you feeling scattered because you’re constantly interrupted by others? Kindly ask your coworkers or family members to allow you some time and space to yourself at certain times of day. While this may not work with young children, you can ask your spouse to take the kids for a walk so that you can have some quiet time to focus.
Learn to say no.
One of the biggest reasons we often feel scattered is that we ARE scattered. We are overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overworked. Learning to say no in a kind, but effective way (read more on that here) can help simplify our lives so that we have the time and space to focus on one thing at a time, rather than giving several things our half-hearted effort and attention at once.
Allie was born and raised in Georgia, and moved to Nashville after graduating from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). She’s a freelance writer, Pilates instructor, old soul, and chronic DIY-er. Connect with Allie at alliemyszka.com.