We are told that by the time we reach 50, our bodily functions and brain capacity are in decline – we believe every word of it. We think our inability to focus is part of the ageing process, yet it has nothing to do with our age and all to do with the way we habitually do things.
Despite science showing us that our brains actually make the same amount of brain cells as when we were 20 years old, we still blame our frustrations on age. If science can prove the modern myth of ageing is wrong, then we can use that information as a base to stay focused and cope with anxiety and overwhelm. No excuses!
Every day is a ‘struggle’ it is the essence of life. Every minute we neglect to engage purposefully in our life we are a minute closer to death. If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus then now is the time to make changes.
There has never been a better time to be ‘old’. We are living longer, refusing to grow old in the same manner as our parents and we have ever-evolving modern technology on our side. Sometimes we feel as if we can’t keep up and yet here we are. I have connected with you on Facebook and delivered this pdf to you over the ethernet and you have opened the document etc. It’s awesome.
Focus takes practice, below are my Top 10 Best Ways To Stay Focused At Midlife, the key to the list is NOT to do everything at once! Doing all of the lists below in one go will just cause you to throw your hands up in the air and declare it was all ‘useless self-improvement babble’. Focus on the one thing that resonates with you and applies it to your life, then and only then move onto another task. You must be happy and confident that you have integrated the first concept before starting others.
1. Say NO!
For many feeling unfocused, this first sentence will be already ringing alarm bells and making you squirm in your seat. “How can I say no?” The answer is.. you put your vocal chords into action and utter the two syllables. Simples.
Saying NO is a magical thing, it gives you space. It calms the inner self and strengthens your authenticity. Who says you have to do all of this stuff? You do! It does not have to be that way.
When you utter the word NO, there is a secret – you must make sure you attach the NO to your heart. Say the word NO with love and watch the world change around you.
TIP – If you always say NO, you can always swap it for a YES!
2. Avoid Distractions
Easier said than done I know, so let me ask you, what is your biggest distraction? Most people today, say mobile phone and yet even though they know it is their biggest source of distraction, they find it difficult to turn them off ‘just in case…’ By actually putting your phone on silent or turning it off completely, whilst concentrating on a serious task at hand, you will actually succeed in doing the task faster. Remember we did have a life before mobile phones were invented and we survived. The world will still be there when you turn it on again.
If it is not your mobile phone, take time out to observe your daily movements and work out what causes you to be easily distracted. Write them down so that you have proof. The next step is to do something different. Find a way of disengaging from the distraction in order that you can focus.
3. Create A Routine
You can train your brain to stay focused, just like you can train any other muscle in the body. One of the ways you can help is to keep to a daily routine. Some people work better early in the day some in the evening. Work out whether you are a night owl or a dawn raider and fit your routine to suit you. Then you won’t burn the candles at both ends.
For example, on my push days (I don’t call them work days because I love them so much) I get up at 6 am, read my ‘morning formula’, write my 3 gratitudes and lessons to learn, before heading downstairs for green juice and exercise (and the routine continues throughout the day). Each day is the same, specific tasks allotted to specific times of the day. I know whats coming up, so does my brain and the focus is expected before we begin.
If something is not working, I can then take a step back and hone in on exactly what it is and make alterations. For example, I am home alone at the moment, without a car, I find my exercise routine now fits better in the late afternoon. This routine will change again when hubby is home or I get a car.
NOTE – Sometimes you have to be careful with the daily routine. Going to work to pay the bills and hating every part of the day/week/month/year is not routine, it is more complicated. You are ‘between’ life. ‘Mundane Living’ is when your life it has lost its meaning. If this is you, you need to focus on what is really important right now and work towards getting out of the mundane before it kills you. We only get one chance in this life, use it wisely. Don’t make excuses – what you focus on is what you get.
4. Be Sensibly Selfish
Part of staying focused is to make sure you have a space to do nothing. Women are particularly bad at this – we make time to do nothing and then fill it with something else! I have just run the ‘0-Thing Retreat’ in Mallorca, Spain and it was fun to listen to the ladies asking what we were going to do next and looking confused when I said – ‘nothing’.
In order to be balanced, you need time off from focusing. Allow yourself to be Sensibly Selfish. You are no good to anyone else unless you follow the flight drill instructions and put your oxygen mask on before helping others. Put yourself first for at least some part of the day.
Creating a gap each day to reflect, breath deeply and connect to nature, recharges your batteries and allows you to be energised ready for the next focus.
5. Be Confident And Do What You Are Good At
Living other peoples dreams, not feeling confident, not feeling good enough, will also rob you of your focus. Comparing yourself to someone else will do the same. Doing things you hate doing instead of getting help, not knowing what your strengths are and not using them to their full potential or getting help with the things you cannot do well, also fits into this section.
For focus – Avoid all of the above. If you need help with any of this, you can book a free 45-minute strategy session.
Stop comparing yourself to others “Realize the truth: No one and I mean no one – not the pope, not the president, and maybe not but possibly Richard Branson – is better than you. They simply know something you don’t know, believe something better than you’re believing, and are doing something you are not doing. Those are all things you can change very easily.” – Preston Ely
6. Create Goals
Not everyone likes the word ‘goal’ so please replace/insert whatever suits. When you have a goal in mind it is easier to focus on the steps you need to take to make it happen. Defining the goals may take time yet it is well worth it. The next step is to break it down into daily doable chunks.
I often talk about last year when I walked The Camino, from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostella in Spain, 729 km over 32 days. If I had focused on the whole picture, I would have immediately felt overwhelm and never even started. Focusing on the daily to do’s e.g. walk 25 km, eat, wash, sleep and repeat, meant that within a month the goal was virtually accomplished – and not one blister either!
Always set a goal, put a date and time stamp on it, then break it down, keep coming back to see how you are performing and what needs to be altered to keep you on track.
Take time out to look at your weekly, monthly and yearly calendar in order to keep an eye on the main priorities. Creating a dream or vision board also helps you focus on what is important to you and helps you achieve your goals faster (see Nº7).
This is something I do constantly. Creating a list of tasks for the next day before going to bed means I can let go of them and do not have to think or worry about them during sleep time. The next day all I have to do is reach for my notes, look at the to-do list and give each task a priority.
TIP – Always do the worst task first as this creates an amazing amount of space. Trust me it works!
Attempt to have no more than +/- 7 things on your daily list. This is the most you can actually achieve in a day. Any task left over is either binned/deleted from the list or transferred to the next day depending on whether you feel it is still important.
8. The 80/20 Principle
If you sit at a computer screen like me, all day, you cannot be focused all of the time, you need space to relax and take breaks (I space my time into 45-minute chunks with 15 minutes to move).
In order to stay focused you can follow the Pareto Principle as well. The rule says that 20% of everything you do accounts for 80% of your results. If you have created your goals and your priority list, you can then apply Pareto.
Out of ten things on your list, 2 will be worth more than the rest put together. By being aware and focusing on the things that are going to create you the most benefit you will save huge amounts of time and energy.
TIP – Ask yourself – is focusing on this task actually worth the effort? If it is then complete it, never leave a task undone as this will cause you angst and create midlife millstones around your neck for no reason.
8. Other Holistic Stuff
Your focus may also be impaired in other ways. Here are a few questions you may want to answer in order to get focused!
- Are you drinking enough water? (synapses send electrical signals and use water as the conduit if you are not hydrated they cannot do their job) Your body needs around 2 litres a day.
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Are you taking in regular deep breaths and getting oxygen to your system?
- Do you practise some form of meditation or daily connection with nature?
- Have you had your body tested for vitamin and mineral deficiency, are you lacking any vital ones?
- Do you eat good natural foods always?
- Is your workspace or home space clean and tidy?
- Do you smoke, drink alcohol or coffee?
- Are you getting 8 hours of sleep per night?
- Have you suffered some form of deep stress recently such as the death of a loved one, divorce, burnout?
- Do you need your eyes re-testing?
Take a look at each of these in detail and adjust what is not working for you. You may need to seek professional help in each area.
It is impossible to do everything. Period. There are too many possibilities within a lifetime to do absolutely everything, for example, you will never read every single book in the world or shake the hands of every human being on the planet and yet some people think that by doing more they will be more fulfilled. It is the exact opposite. Doing a few things successfully is much more rewarding than doing half a job and feeling like a headless chicken.
Less is more. Simplify everything you can, ditch mental and physical baggage and be…
KISSED – Keep It, Super Simple, Every Day.
Bonus Tip 1
If you are like me and spend an awful lot of time in front of a computer screen. Download a timer chrome extension and set it to 45-minutes. Get up and stretch and walk around for 15 mins. In that time find a distant object to focus on and stare at it for a few minutes. This will help reduce the eye strain and feeling of tiredness.
Bonus Tip 2
Celebrate all wins, big or small. Always.
I would love to know how you get on. Why not Facebook message me and let me know what worked for you. Need help with any of the above?
Book a FREE 45-minute strategy session with me now.