Finding Focus – My 3 Steps to Productivity and Happiness

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Concentrate all your thoughts on the work at hand – the sun rays do not burn until brought to a focus” – Alexander Graham Bell

So August is nearly over already – where did it go?  Here at Less Ordinary Towers, we try not to take ourselves too seriously, however the last month has been  a little hectic.  Between blogging, building up my coaching practice, visiting family and friends, filing taxes and various other excitements it feels like I haven’t stopped.

Yesterday, I caught myself babbling away to my lovely wife without taking a breath, and realized that I was wound up like an over-tuned guitar string.  My thoughts were in 5 billion different places at once.  It was time for me to slow down, take a breath and find focus.  For me, focus means being able to concentrate all of my energy and attention on the most important things in my life. It is the state when I’m at my best – productive, energised and happy.

Finding focus

Leading psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi is an expert on focus and has developed the theory of “flow”.  He defines the state of “flow” as when a person is completely in the zone, absorbed in what they are doing and hugely productive.  His research has found a correlation between the feeling of being in “flow” with feeling happier, more satisfied and more creative.  If you’re interested in finding out more this theory and hearing him speak, follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXIeFJCqsPs

All well and good, but with so much going on, how could I start to refocus?  The first thing I did was to slow down a little.  I stated to think for an extra second before acting, walk half a pace more slowly and to pay more attention to the world around me.  Although simple, this started to take away the fraught feelings I had.  Slowing down helped me to feel more in control and to calm the thoughts that had been racing in my head.

The second thing was to take a few quiet minutes to step back and look at the big picture.  I reaffirmed my highest priorities – being a great husband, taking care of myself and helping others to make the most of their lives.  Having done this, I looked at my (massive) to do list with fresh eyes.  It helped me to pick out a few key activities that were most important and to focus on those.  I ended up crossing out a lot of the small annoying things that had been preying on my mind.

Last, yesterday I implemented my first “power hour”.  I picked the most important task that I wanted to achieve, went to my favourite place (the local coffee shop), and turned off all distractions (phone, internet, email).  I set a timer on my watch for 50 minutes and gave absolute focus to the work in hand.  It was amazing how much I achieved.  I finished the hour by rewarding myself with a 10 minute session listening to a couple of my favourite tunes and sipping a latte.  Bliss!

Making these simple changes has helped me to unwind, stop taking myself so seriously and feel much more focussed.  As September rolls around, think about what you need to focus on over the next few months.  Try slowing down, looking at the big picture or taking a daily “power hour” yourself.

We love your comments, so please let us know what you do to find focus, or how slowing down and taking a power hour has helped you.  Also, if you enjoyed this article, please do a good deed and share it with a friend or family member who might appreciate it.

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