Are you feeling this – the need to FOCUS? Do you feel the intense pressure to quickly reinvent how you work online to get an income, due to distancing from the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic? And because everything is changing so fast, doesn’t this makes you question what you really want out of life?
This week, I’ve managed to organize haphazardly, and finish bits and pieces of work despite the need to get ahead of the game; like learning new software programs, and tearing out inspirations from interior design magazines.
I’ve also prioritized my new obsessions; learned new recipes, figured out online groceries and time slots, looked up how to clean cardboard and plastics from food containers, and called my mom. I’ve also signed up for every zoom webinar from my industry to find answers to what my future holds with my career.
Well, during these last couple of days, I decided to make things easy for myself. My goal – just to blog and post on social media. That was it – my only task was to download words with photos and post. But even with that, I ended up signing up for another webinar that just dropped in my email, and then troubleshooted my blog’s WordPress site (oh yes, the time sucking learning curves, too).
But, this is our “New Normal” (How else do I say this?) – Being highly sensitized to anything and everything out of the norm, while staying focused on how to navigate our future. I had to give myself serious attention and intervention. It took me a few days to stop constantly checking my phone to see if Instacart had toilet paper, but I finally pushed myself to the next phase of my daily activities using focusing and mindful tips. I’m currently using every bit of them now to help me get back on track.
So, how do we cut through the mind chatter, browser abuse, and fear of the unknown? And now what? Where are we going to be next year?
I thought I’d share some of the advice and tips that I’ve been learning that seems to be helping my anxiety. If you’re feeling scattered and unable to focus as well, I hope these tips help you too.
Put your phone on airplane mode.
Have you noticed you’re on a plane, you can get a lot of reading done, watch a documentary, or study without distractions when your phone is on airplane mode?
I’m not saying to stay unplugged all day. But, put your phone on airplane mode! Start with 1 to 2 hours of un interruption, and build up. You need to first, “Protect your time”.
Pause – Allow yourself to get into your Flow State.
Pick a quiet spot, and designate that spot for this task. (Optional: Light a candle or turn on your aromatherapy. For me, candles and scents help me feel like I’ve escaped to another zone, and feel pampered). But, the more noise around you, the more distractions.
How to Start your “Flow” State:
First, Quiet your mind, just for a short time. I do mediation for 10 minutes with Headspace. It’s actually more difficult than I thought to tune out. But, when your mind has space, you can hear your thoughts clearly. If you’re interested in getting out of your head and not becoming your worst enemy, get quiet with a little mediation.
“You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares….”, quoted by Carl Sagan in one of my all time favorite movies, Contact . He describes how we can let our thoughts be our best friend, and yet our worst enemy.
Third: Create a Mind Map
What excites you? This may take a bit of time, but don’t dwell on this exercise too long. Create a visual map of where you want to go and connect the dots. Put yourself in the center, and start branching out your personal and career journeys. Figure out how to get to your destinations. Then, come back to the map periodically and update. What comes up first is usually from your gut and most authentic to who you are. Below is an example of a problem solving mind map by TheMetalearners.
We all have to do this now – figure out what we want to share of ourselves after the world opens its’ doors again. Where do we want to be in the next year, or 18 months, and how are we going to get there? This pandemic is causing the world to shift in how we will live our life moving forward.
(This isn’t a Mind map blog, so here’s a link for SimpleMind that I use).
Pretend like you’re driving across the country and you need to figure out your highways, hotels, restaurants, and destination. Write it down in outline form, or draw a pretty road map.
Stay with the road trip concept and think, “how will I feel while I’m going through the process to achieve this goal?” If you don’t enjoy the process, I’d advise re-thinking your goals. Like a road trip – If the trip is going to be long, you may want to take a scenic route to enjoy a great, memorable drive.
“Is this what I want, or what I should be doing?” Is this road map really where I want to go? Or is this an obligation. Sometimes, obligations have to be part of our goals. But we can have multiple goals, which is a healthy way to look at life. We only live this life once as we know it. So, why not figure out how to be happy and find a goal that makes you smile. Try not to think too deeply at first. You’ll stay too long dwelling on stuff. Keep your map as simple as possible. Check out this article from one of my favorite writers, Ayodeji Awosika – How to follow your dreams.
Capture your daydreams: By the way, Color is Emotional.
Get a paint Color you love and focus on it. Download and print out a website sample. If you’re a designer like me, pull a color from your paint chips. Prop it up near you at your workspace, and come back to it. Emmerse yourself in that color. What feeling does that color bring to you? Why that color? Does it remind you of some part of your childhood that you loved? (You can swap out different colors on different times or days – One color doesn’t represent us; just our feelings).
Focusing on one thing solid, (like a color chip or a pebble) can help you quiet your mind and allow your inner thoughts to be heard. And color adds a layer of emotion that helps us understand why we like something.
Block your time, including waking up, showering, grocery shopping, eating, and going to bed. Those are the things that suck up your time. Check out one of my Youtube favorites, Amy Landino and her Master Calendar Blocking video.
Block “like” tasks. So, you’re finding out that you need to figure out dinner all week without going back and forth to the grocery store. Block an afternoon to plan, and time to shop. You may need to re-think how long it really takes to meal plan now that you’re stuck at home.
Notice what you’re not doing:
As you look through your “to do” list, notice the things that aren’t getting done. Then, actually track one of your days that didn’t follow your schedule.
What is it about these things? Are they ambiguous, where you don’t know how to complete them? Or, is there a resistance to doing them. What is that resistance? Or, maybe these things don’t align with how you really feel. Unless you track your progress and notice what’s getting done or what’s not getting done, then you’ll never really change those things. We’re worth doing these excercises to figure out what truly makes us smile.
Celebrate Small Wins – Practice finishing something in your home that you haven’t done in awhile:
File the papers in that pile sitting around from months ago, or straighten things that’s been shoved in a bookshelf for over a year. If you want to take on a larger task, move your furniture around. My girlfriend just did this, and she said to tell you it made her feel great! Just moving furniture around, or cleaning a bookshelf can give you some clarity and a give a new perspective to how you think about something. Get more tips from trending organizing expert, Marie Kondo – Achieving Calm through the art of Organization.
Sometimes, we don’t realize that there may be another way we can do it to achieve what we want. So, cleaning or rearranging can help clear our thoughts and give us space to think differently.
Also, break up daily tasks so that you can get the psychological lift of finishing something in chunks. Do tasks in small phases to achieve small wins! Don’t overload your calendar. Give yourself more time to do one thing, but put a deadline on your task.
Also, this timer helps me to stay focused:
So, right now is a great time to re-think ourselves. But let’s give ourselves a break. This COV-19 pandemic is a World Event that we can say we went through in our lifetime one day to our kids, our friend’s kids and/or our grand-kids.
This is a truly a “World Reset”. Most everything temporarily stopped. It’s scary, but think about it; there are opportunities out there that weren’t there before. During these moments, the world is porous, like a sponge. So, this is the time to reset …right now…like everyone else.
And me? I’m proud of myself for finishing this blog…small wins.