WHERE ATTENTION FLOWS, FOCUS GOES
Paying full attention to what you are doing increases the odds of having a successful result.
Do you ever feel like you are doing everything and nothing at the same time?
This happens because there are too many distractions coming your way. Simultaneous phone notifications, personal interruptions, and thoughts make your brain work against the clock to process the incoming information.
In the present culture of success, feeling disorganized and unable to deliver proper results can trigger overwhelming emotions and undesired behaviors. Anxiety, sadness, rumination, procrastination, and unproductivity are the most common responses to multitasking. Additionally, it can negatively impact teamwork and socialization.
Is there anything you can do to help your brain focus? The answer is yes.
Your brain at work: processing the information
Your body has six senses: hearing, sight, taste, smell, touch, and movement. They each have different types of receptors that receive information from the outside and transmit it to the brain for processing. The brain then organizes, prioritizes, and decodes this information to give the best possible response.
The amount of information you are receiving can become an attention thief. Luckily, the brain becomes selective using a filtering process. To preserve itself from overloading, it does not give the same amount of work and spotlight to every stimulus. This is key to optimizing your focus.
Attention control: Can you manage your attention?
In 2020, the prestigious journal Frontiers published a study on attention control. The authors define it as the capacity to have control of your attention regardless of the positive or negative characteristics of the incoming stimuli.
There are two fundamental mechanisms to take control of your attention:
Attentional shifting: this refers to disengaging your attention from one specific situation and consciously paying attention to something else.
You can use this resource according to your priorities. If you are doing something important that you need to get done, you should avoid shifting your attention to something less meaningful.
However, if you are scrolling on social media or watching Netflix and you need to have something done, attentional shifting is a must. It’s a conscious mechanism that you can master with will and determination.
Attentional focusing: this refers to focusing your attention on one particular situation, and not letting new stimuli distract you.
The success of this resource depends on self-discipline, it’s all about resisting the urge to do something else. Staying a little longer or doing one more push-up can be the difference between success or eternal procrastination.
Be Aware Of Your Automatic Behavior
Your brain has become so accustomed to grabbing your phone that it will do so even if you have no desire to look at it. Your hand just grabs your phone and starts opening apps, sending unnecessary messages, and scrolling on social media. When something like this happens to you, it means it has become a habit, an automatic behavior. They are unconscious; you do them without noticing it. Be aware of these habits as they hack your concentration.
Take control Of Your Automatic Behaviors
1-Identify the automatic behaviors that hack your focus: phone scrolling, unnecessary visits to the fridge, walking around the house, opening random websites, or visiting YouTube.
2-Draw limits: Putting your phone out of your immediate reach or blocking some websites can go a long way.
Mindfulness Can Boost Your Ability To Focus
Mindfulness can be a resource to help you control your attention flow. It enables your mind to fully attend to the present moment. When you switch your attention from one thing to another, usually anxiety plays a role. Wondering what others are doing, fears, and intrusive thoughts are attention control enemies. Meditation practice can enable you to strengthen your mind and focus.
How Can You Start?
Have you ever tried to concentrate on your breathing just for 3 minutes? It seems an effortless task. But it can feel impossible.
1- Check your focus status. Try to concentrate on your breath for 3 minutes. How do you feel? Do you want to stop?
2- Give yourself consistency. Practice the 3-minute breathing for a week. That way, you will teach your brain to gain control over overwhelming information.
How you handle your focus can be decisive in your life. Use it wisely.