Regaining Focus

April 2024

Today, my thoughts are scattered. My mind is everywhere and nowhere all at once. I'm fidgety but not anxious. I have things to do but no focus and I've already bounced between so many tasks this morning and it's just past 9.30am. The fact that I'm sipping on a second coffee for the morning probably isn't helping, but I know it's not the coffee. This is just me. This is normal.
"Normal?" you may ask - it probably doesn't seem that way, but I know myself well enough to know that on some days, my mind has just too much information floating around in it that I can't seem to focus on one thing. If I'm not careful about it, it'll lead to a day of doing everything and yet nothing in its entirety. But if I'm smart about it, and I know the signs, I can do something about it.
And I don't believe that this is something that only happens to me. I see it in others too. So what do you do when you're completely scattered and somewhat frazzled, and you need to regain focus? Well that depends on what works for you.
You could try the mindful breathing path, where you just sit still for a few minutes, and focus on taking slow deep breaths in and out. That doesn't always work for me because my brain will usualy only focus on the breathing for a few seconds before it spins off and starts thinking of other things.
So for me, I need to get all the thoughts out of my head first. The easiest and quickest way that I've found, is writing it all down. It doesn't have to make sense either. It could be a colourful mind map of words or short sentences, or it could be more structured like a list or even a diary entry. How I write it out depends on how scattered and energetic I'm feeling. How it's written doesn't really matter - it's more about getting all the information out of your head and onto paper, which forces your brain to think a little bit more logically and thoroughly for each thought. Depending on how you've written it out, you could use it as a prompt for all the things that you need to do that day. (But also don't be afraid to just burn it or throw it away, if it's just nonsense or you feel like you don't need it anymore, after you've written it all down.)
Sometimes writing it out isn't enough. Sometimes I still have more energy to burn before I can sit still for more than 5 minutes. And in those instances, I'll do something physical, like go for a quick walk or jump up and down whilst shaking my arms to get rid of all the excess energy. (If you're in an office or other public space, you might want to go somewhere private to do the jumping up and down exercise, so you don't look like some kind of crazy person because you randomly started doing it.)
But what if you've done all of that and you're still feeling scattered and restless? Try talking it out. Say it out loud. All your thoughts. Either to yourself (you could record yourself if you wanted to) or to a friend, if they're okay with you just ranting for a while. (Again, maybe speaking out loud in public, to no-one, isn't a great idea unless you want to look like a crazy person, so in those instances, go somewhere private where you won't be seen, heard or disturbed.) Sometimes just saying your thoughts out loud and hearing yourself say them, helps you connect the dots and make sense of your thoughts. It's another way of processing the information in your head which in turn, allows your thoughts to be more organised and less scattered, so that you can focus on one task.
But what if these scattered thoughts and restlessness isn't a one-off occurrence? What if it's something that happens daily or almost daily? What then? Well quite simply, adopt a daily routine where you spend some time each morning, before you dive into all the tasks for your day, sitting still and listing out all the things that you need to accomplish. Rank it in importance too if that's something you feel you need to do. But don't rush the process and force yourself to complete it all within 2 minutes. Take the time to write it all out and make sense of all the overwhelm. Do it whilst listening to calming music if you're an auditory person. Give youself 15-30 minutes to do this and then start your day. If you feel the need to do something physical like go for a walk or run, then add in the time to do that as part of your morning routine, and allow your mind to wander; Don't force yourself to focus on the physical activity you're doing if you can't seem to keep your mind still and quiet.
If you're at home or in an environment that you have some control over, you might want to burn some incence or a scented candle. Alternativelty, you might want to pull an oracle card for the day or a random verse from your faviourite poetry book, to close out the morning routine. My point here is, do whatever works for you. There's no one judging you here, except yourself.
Just remember that taking the time each morning, to set yourself up for the day, is not a waste of your time. It's valuable and it is productive. You do have the time to do it. A couple of minutes sorting your mind out for the day is probably the best thing that you can do. (And it doesn't have to be EXACTLY the same every day - you're allowed to vary your own routine!) Just try it this week if you don't do it already - I think that you'll find that it makes a positive difference to how your day will go.
I know I'm feeling better and more focussed already.

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I let go of worryI am thankful every dayI release attachment to outcomesI see lessons everywhereI take time to understand my thoughts and feelingsI value down time for myself