Liz Reyer: To Focus Your Thinking, Train Like An Athlete

By Liz Reyer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Business coach Liz Reyer shares her best tips on how to focus your attention to get your work done. To start, she shares ways in which you can create a work environment with more limited distractions.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Q: After years in roles of intense busyness, I’ve taken a new position that requires more focus and attention to big-picture innovation. To my surprise, I feel I’ve forgotten how to take a step back and think comprehensively. How can I re-energize those skills?
-Amanda, 50, operations director

A: Build up your endurance, just as you would if you were training for an athletic event.

It’s not surprising that focus is a challenge. Lately I’ve been hearing that human attention spans have fallen to a level comparable to a goldfish (about 8 seconds). And it’s no wonder, with the plethora of devices and inputs demanding our attention. Most of us fall prey to this.

A number of tactics can help you focus. To start, create a work environment with more limited access to distractions.

If you are a mobile addict, put your phone across the room. Turn up the ringer if you’re afraid you will miss a call; just make sure you can’t pick it up every time you feel the urge.

Find ways to catch yourself and calm yourself internally. Before you mindlessly check email yet again, take three deep breaths to focus and bring your attention back to the task at hand.

Now consider the work you are doing. You may be trying to think about too much at once. Try taking one aspect of your current assignment, just one, and think it through as deeply as you can. Asking yourself “why” and “what else” can help you deepen your vision.

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