On Saturday, at my daughter’s soccer game, I watched as she got benched for not paying attention. The coach was right, of course. My daughter was starting off into space, and the ball, and three-quarters of the girls playing, went right past her.
A moment’s indiscretion, or lack of attention, can have a major impact on outcomes. While my daughter, in many ways, is still too young to get it, she was definitely disappointed to have to sit down. The coach explained to her what had happened, and it was clear that she was unhappy. After the game, we talked about it, and I shared with her the importance of keeping focus on the task at hand, even if she wants to let her mind go elsewhere.
This isn’t easy for kids, and it isn’t easy for adults either. I’m a case-in-point. I find that I tend to get distracted incredibly easily, and I need to take breaks from time-to-time in order to provide myself the refocusing opportunities I need.
And yet, focusing is a necessity. We need to pay attention to our surroundings if we are going to be the effective leaders and learners we intend to be. Here are three strategies I use to keep my focus.
1. Take breaks. I find that if I work on any given task for too long, I tend to lose focus. For me, I need to walk around, give myself a web-browsing break, or go outside for a bit. My breaks can be short, maybe just five minutes, but that helps me reset my mind to continue work.
2. Focus on tasks I “want” to be doing. I know, this sounds pretty obvious, but if I’m able to find the relevance in all tasks, I’m more likely to retain my focus long enough to complete them effectively.
3. Collaborate. If I’m working with others, I’m forced to retain attention. And, often, at least for me, working with others is much more fun.
These three options aren’t end-alls, and they won’t necessarily work for everyone. But, since I know I struggle to pay attention, and I know how important attention-paying is, it is necessary to have strategies in place that keep me focused!