With a record number of people in lockdown and working from home, anxiety and restlessness have sharply risen. With our inability to step out, focusing on our tasks in hand may be very difficult. The easiest thing to do is to turn to distractions like scrolling through your phone, watching TV or surfing the Internet.
The problem is that adding more hours of distraction does not refresh the mind but does quite the opposite. We may think we are diverting our minds but instead we feel more dull, sluggish and tired. What we need is to ‘Focus’ better. Conscious Focused attention sharpens our mind. We start to enjoy our tasks and feel more in control of our life and situations.
What is Focused attention? It is about inner focus that speeds up rebalancing and resetting of the mind.
Here’s how we can learn how to focus better and Center Ourselves to feel balanced and productive.
1. Practice Silent Sitting – As soon as you notice that you are distracted, try to find a quiet place where you can be alone for few minutes. Sit in Silence with eyes closed for some time. Place your attention in the center of your chest. Place both your palms on your heart. Feel your heartbeat. Notice the sensations in your body. Continue to breathe normally for a few minutes until you feel better and calmer. Usually you will feel better in few minutes and can get back to work with more focus.
2. Breathe mindfully – During the day, frequently pause for few seconds. Take Conscious breaths, in and out, and do a quick body scan. Take your attention mentally to different parts of your body. Sense where you are holding any tightness or discomfort in your body. Your body is a reflection of your mind and feelings. Where ever you notice some discomfort, shift your attention to that area of your body. Acknowledge it and take three to four deep breaths. The emotions responsible for the discomfort will start to get released through your breath. You will feel lighter. It will help relax your body and calm your mind. You will feel more energetic and enthusiastic to complete your tasks in hand.
3. Follow a Schedule – If you think it’s tempting to procrastinate at the office, it’s even more difficult to be disciplined at home, due to more distractions. It’s easy to put things off to later in the day or even next day because you are not bound by office hours at home. However, this causes more stress as things will easily pile up and then there will more left to be done in a short time. This unnecessarily causes anxiousness and pressure. And in times of pressure, if something unexpected happens — like your internet goes down or something else urgent comes up, you could easily miss the deadline and your work could be affected. This will make you feel guilty and unproductive. The best thing to do is to prepare a Timetable. List out the activities for the day. Stick to this timetable as far as possible. This includes your time of waking up, time of sleeping, work hours, even your break time. If you stick to a timetable you will end up completing your tasks in a timely manner.
4. Enjoy little breaks – Giving yourself little breaks in between work is very important. However first give away the tendency to drink water or eat food while sitting in front of our computer or laptop or while answering phone calls. This is not a healthy thing to do. Don’t overburden the brain by mixing these activities. This interferes in the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and event digest your food. It also leaves your mind restless. Include some time in your schedule for refreshments, mindful breathing and even quick meditation breaks. You will be able to concentrate better, feel healthier and even work more efficiently.
5. Learn, Practice, Repeat as per the need – Repetition is the Mother of Learning. In order to improve your focus repetition is the key. You need to repeat these practices as many times in the day as needed. How do you know when there is a need for them? A Need is indicated by feeling bored, sad, anxious, angry, dull or any other negative feeling. While working from home, the need will arise much more often than usual. So it would be helpful if we adopt these practices to take charge of our minds and feelings and practice them regularly. This will help you be more peaceful and productive.
Dr Karishma Ahuja, PhD
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