In a recent blog about focus, I reflected on how most of us search for a technique or best practice when we find ourselves unfocused. Happily, that’s no longer necessary when we stop believing whatever thoughts keep us unfocused, because we become receptive to new ideas that are just waiting for a little wiggle room in our minds.
In the past couple weeks I’ve noticed (both in myself and in my clients) a common subset of overthinking that can make it particularly hard to focus. It’s so compelling when we believe it that we just can’t give ourselves permission to keep our attention on the work at hand.
When we believe we have to step in and manage or control the behaviors of other people, it’s almost impossible to focus on what we need or want to do. If you’re a parent, a business owner or part of a team, I’d guess that with certain people you’ve convinced yourself that in order to have something done right (or even done at all), you have to either spend precious time monitoring their progress or doing it yourself, leaving you with less time for what you need to do. There’s a real fear beneath this kind of thinking, convincing us that our lives will definitely suffer unless we step in and exert some degree of control in what others are doing. Who hasn’t often started out by working on their own but found themselves constantly interrupting their own flow in order to make sure “other people” are doing what they’re supposed to?
Research suggests that it takes between 15 and 23 minutes to get back on track once we get interrupted. So, if you have one hour to spend on an important project, with just two interruptions your productivity is reduced by at least half. Often more.
I’ve met very few people who don’t think they could benefit from more time in their day. But it’s not the amount of time we have allotted to us, it’s how we relate to time. And when we’re caught up in thinking that insists we focus on monitoring others’ behaviors at our own expense, we lose the very thing we’re hoping to gain.
All sorts of ideas can come to you once you become aware your behavior is being determined by your own thoughts and not the actions (or inaction) of other people. You might realize how to work in a simpler, more streamlined way. Or you may see ways you could set things up so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to check on others.
When we realize that the quality of our lives is determined by the thoughts we think, we can then see that we don’t have to think - or believe - the thoughts that stop us just because they've come into our minds. Looking beyond those limiting thoughts, we automatically open ourselves to ideas that are much more effective, satisfying, productive and fun. And as my mentor Michael Neill is fond of saying, noticing changes everything. Why not see for yourself?
I'll be sharing more thoughts about this pesky problem of lack of focus in a free zoom call Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 12:30pm Eastern. Join me HERE.