World events interrupt our concentration – it’s hard to stay focused
With the impending presidential elections in the United States, the turbulent weather (Hurricane Matthew in the US, with worldwide coverage of the damage to the Caribbean and eastern US seaboard), and senseless killings around the globe that seem to be escalating, it’s sometimes difficult for me to keep focused on the tasks at hand. Is it really more important that I proof-read a systems manual than to get involved in minimizing climate change? Shouldn’t I be activating for human and civil rights instead of activating for better understanding of ISO clause changes? Why is it difficult to stay focused on what needs to be done?
The truth probably lies somewhere between “ignore everything and work with laser focus” and “abandon everything and just work on your passion”… because we all know that there has been strife in the world forever – at least since we have recorded word. There will unfortunately be tragedy as long as the world turns. And for most of us, we do have to work to make a living.
Yes, we can do something, we can make a difference, whether it be at the local level or on a larger stage; however, we also have a responsibility to use our talents wisely, which may include earning a living and providing for a family.
So how do we stay focused during upheaval?
Tips to improve concentration
Here are a few ways that I’ve found helpful:
1. Take action where you can. You may not be able to solve the world’s hunger problem, but you can volunteer at the local food pantry, give healthy snacks to the homeless at intersections, and donate to worthy causes worldwide. Stay focused on what you can impact, what you can change.
2. Stop beating your head against a wall. You can’t change people’s minds. Politics comes to mind here. “I’m going to change my vote based on a Facebook meme” said no one ever. Choose not to engage in a battle where the other side is equally entrenched in their beliefs.
3. Understand what you can, and cannot, affect. I can spend all day tracking the hurricane – but it’s not going to change course no matter how often I check its path. So instead, make some progress on something that you CAN control, like cleaning your desk or house, or getting some work done.
4. Work your to-do list. Get distracted with something that needs to be done, like your to-do list. Write down things that need to be done as you think of them, and then start working on them. Follow the Pomodoro technique – work on your to-do list without interruption – laser focus – for 25 mins, then take a 5 min break. Do this as many times as you can during the day. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish during these bursts of focus!
Although life often intrudes on our concentration, by keeping these tips in mind, you will accomplish more and feel better about everything at the end of the day – a sense of accomplishment!