Spring is coming, which means that moods will be heightened, getting outside won’t be such a chore with all of that extra weight from carrying a jacket and other winter gear, and photos have much more potential to look better due to better light conditions. I’m looking very forward to kicking everything up a notch!
But if there is one enemy of anything productive, it’s a lack of focus. Focus is an elusive trait, especially during the winter for me. My mood is never 100% in the winter, so that means a very cluttered mind. With spring, however, comes spring cleaning, inside and out. That means keeping my environment, my body, and my mind clean, and with all of that, comes a clean soul. Nothing to destruct myself. Only cleanliness can be in my life. Winter makes me forget about that. It’s really easy to self-destruct during the cold season. Less light, and less of an urge to get out. And when you do get out, it’s not as productive as it should be. Let’s change this.
I have a few things I like to do that keep me on track. While I’m not a leading expert on focus by any means, I do know a few “tricks” which I do that may help you out.
1: A good amount of sleep + waking up early.
I can’t stress enough how important this is. Without a good amount of sleep and waking up early, the whole rhythm gets destroyed instantly. I go for 8 hours of sleep, and waking up any time before 9am. Anything past 9, and I’m most likely going to be out of it. Kind of a shame. For anyone else, your milage may vary. (Or as people on the internet like to say, YMMV.)
2: Stretching + a light workout.
These help with blood flow, which gets your brain more active, which in turn helps you to churn out more work. I have a stretching routine that I do every morning, and then I follow it up with some push-ups, pull-ups, and a few ab workouts. If you’re working at a desk, throwing a wrist stretch in every so often, along with moving around the legs/arms is a good thing to do. Let me know if you are curious about the routine I use, and I may post it up. I’ve been using the same general stretch routine for over 15 years, albeit modified here and there throughout the time.
This is a key point to really heighten focus. For about 10-15 minutes a morning, I’ll meditate. It’s a real test of focus depending on how you do it. My personal way of meditating is by focusing on one point. A dot in the middle of my closed-eye vision. I clear my mind and stare at the dot, pushing back any other thoughts that come to mind as fast as I can, all while moving energy around the body. Many things will come to attack the peace, be it your outside environment, or the clutter in your mind, but you must stay diligent. Keep fighting for focus, and one day, if you keep this up, you will be able to attain the mental peace you may seek. You WILL NOT get it the first few times you try. It takes a lot of practice. I’ll do a post later on that will tackle this more in-depth.
4: Eat breakfast and snack throughout the day.
Some people forget this important step, but your brain needs food, and you should give it that. My breakfast of choice is a glass of orange juice, a 2 egg omelette with cheese pan fried in olive oil, and a bowl of cereal. Snacks I eat are usually granola bars or trail mix with raisins and a bunch of dried fruit in it. That always hits the spot. I also drink a LOT of tea, though that’s a subject for another time.
5: Clean your environment.
A clean environment is a happy environment. Isn’t that what “they” say? Well, I believe it fully, and constantly take out any clutter in my work environment that may appear on the spot. Any little thing can bother you, so you should make sure to have a clean area to work in. Every once in a while, I’ll have to move stuff off of my desk, like my bag, or a few papers. It’s good to have shelves and drawers for just about everything, allowing some room within them to grow. And don’t be afraid to throw anything away if you know it can be thrown away. Old junk is a pain, so it’s better to deal with it while it is still new, and you aren’t so attached to it. Get the clutter out, and you’ll be able to focus on your work much better. A smelly environment isn’t good either, so I recommend using incense to flow another smell into your work area. Incense can be a good work timer too. Light a stick up, and work until it runs out. How about that?
6: Hone in on your work.
If focus is still an issue while working on something, hone in using a “telescope,” the “telescope” being your fingers and hand creating a little peek-hole in which you look at your work with, and think to yourself that what you are looking at is what you must be focusing on. Within the little “telescope,” you have nothing else around you except your work. That is all that is in focus. It’s a little psychological trick that may help you keep on track. Alternatively, you can create a box around your vision using your hands doing the “vogue” trick. That helps too.
7: Take a walk.
Going for a walk can help clear your mind a little. It also helps get the endorphins moving, making work and focus a little more positive, I feel. While you walk, either think about your work, or just absorb the environment around you. NO HEADPHONES! Just you and the world. Using headphones brings YOUR world everywhere. Bring yourself into THE world, and contemplate real issues, and love the nature and sounds of the world for the way that they are. Also, avoid construction sites. They never produce a soothing sound.
8: A daily to-do list.
Knowing what you must focus on is very important, or else what is going to get done? I write out a to-do list every night in a little sketchbook. Not only do I get to take notes in it, but I can decide the format which I write out my to-do’s in. I can make it look like a website, or a real-estate ad… It’s all up to you. Write down mundane tasks, like to stretch and eat breakfast. Once you check them off, you feel good, because you just checked something off. It’ll help you to get in a rhythm. Then just work your way down the list. If one to-do isn’t clear enough, write a little note/synapses on it in a separate notes area on the same page. Who knows? If you get in a good enough groove, that one to-do that says “become successful” one day may finally be checked off.
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING requires balance. Know when you are doing too much of anything. Excessiveness is an enemy of balance, as is destitution. You want to keep everything just right, riding the calm river through all. Take things as they come, and know when you have too much on your plate. Roll with the punches, and know that everything has a meaning. Breathe, and stay calm. Yet be assertive. Your life, and everything you do is all based on a balance bar. Just imagine that, and work your way through it.
I’m not going to lie. I feel great. Keeping on a rhythm like this has helped me through a good portion of the winter, and is going to make spring a great time to get things done and make progress. I certainly hope you all out in internet land will be able to benefit too. Good energy for all!