I signed up for the online course weeks in advance. When I submitted my credit card I was excited to be making an investment in myself. The day of the course, I logged in on time. I’d cleared my calendar and was looking forward to the program.
The facilitator started talking. She was clearly an expert, and a good presenter.
Yet ten minutes later…. I found myself checking my email! Only half paying attention to the content I was so excited about. It was relevant, and useful, and yet, there I was, squirrel brain kicking in, only half paying attention.
I’m hardly the first person who has found themselves in this position- excited to sit down and focus, motivated to engage, and yet… my mind darts elsewhere.
The virtual setting has kicked our distractableness (a word I predict will become part of our vocabulary) into overdrive. Without physical movement, changes in the environment, and other people shepherding us along, “sitting down to focus” quickly becomes a taller order than it used to be.
Over the last 16 months, I’ve learned to recognize what prompts my mind to wander. I’ve also instituted a few (mostly successful) focusing habits. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Consider that the problem might not be an inability to focus… it might be what you’re trying to focus on. Ask yourself- are you having trouble focusing on everything or is it just one project, one set of people, one chunk of time? If that’s the case, reduce the things that drain your energy, or at least try to split them up.
You’re probably an achiever, someone with big goals and high expectations, who maybe today (or this year) isn’t quite feeling it.
It doesn’t mean you have an incurable attention problem or that your brain fog is indefinite. It might just mean, you went through a global pandemic, massive disruption, prolonged emotional unrest, and now, your brain is mentally rejecting video call number seven today.
Cut yourself some slack. There is no magic bullet LinkedIn article to help you sit through 10-hour Zoom days with rapt attention. You can’t do it. Not sustainably, at least.
Pick and choose when undivided attention matters most. When it’s important, give yourself the transition time and use your body to help your brain. And hey! If you made it to the end of this article, it looks like, you can focus just fine.