“If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still. Take the idea and rock it to and fro. Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself. You need do no more.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Well, they say we teach (coach and write) what we most need to learn. I guess that’s why I’m teaching my middle schoolers how to create spreadsheets (ha!).
But more to the point, I guess that’s why I’m here to share with you my simple tips for getting focused and ready to create (or write, or do your books, or whatever) when your brain has decided to take off. Because you see, I’ve tried for days to write this article and I couldn’t get squat out on the page.
Then today, realizing I have no choice but to get something done, I figured it was time to get serious. And serious I did become…though we won’t mention that it took me nearly four hours for my pal, Serious to actually arrive and get down to business. And we definitely won’t mention how I’ve been to Target and the grocery store, as well as all over Facebook where I even volunteered to forward along some old dog sweaters, and I took time out to wash the dishes and lotion up my dry hands…twice! (man, it’s dry here in this time of year).
Yeah, none of that is important here. Because I’m here to help you dig deep, discover that focus and let him (or her) take over for a bit.
For starters…get up and move around. If that means walking from one room to the other, fine. If it means taking the dog around the block, then do it. Go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea or grab a glass of ice water. Hell, grab a cookie (or a carrot) and take a little snack break if you want. Take a yoga break. Just leave your desk.
I can tell you from experience, you’re not going to get anywhere just sitting on your butt staring at a blank page. And you know that Facebook is always there tempting you. So get moving. And while you’re moving about, give some thought as to what you want to accomplish (for me, this was giving some thought to what I wanted to write about this week).
Which brings us to the next step…change your thoughts and set an intention. When come back to your desk, set an intention. Tell yourself that you intend to sit down and get your weekly writing done. Set the intention that you will be focused and work with purpose and that you will enjoy not only the creative process, but knowing that you’re helping others by sharing your expertise. [More information and tips about setting intentions can be found in my blog]
Instead of telling yourself that you can’t do it or you’ll never get anything done, decide right then and there to make a change. Say a positive (and helpful) statement out loud. Something like “I am a creative genius and great ideas comes to me everywhere I turn, easily and effortlessly.” Repeat it silently or aloud as often as you need to.
It also might help to try your hand at bargaining…or setting a timer. Sometimes we need to focus and do things that we’d really not do. It happens. So why not bargain with yourself? Tell yourself that if you finish this article, you can head out to Starbucks for your favorite latte. Or maybe a much needed pedicure or soak in the tub (ahhh, what I wouldn’t do for a good soaking tub!).
Make the deal, set a timer (20-30 minutes is a good amount of time) and get cracking. You’ll be surprised how much you can actually get done in 20-30 minutes…especially if you know there’s a reward when you’re done. 😉
And lastly…turn of those distractions. It’s times like this that I like to use my OmmWriter app. It takes over my computer and blocks out all other browsers and applications. Plus, it’s a very simple word processor so it can’t do anything fancy and forces me to just focus on my writing. It’s also got some cool new agey tunes to write along with.
Another trick of mine to ease the outside distractions is to listen to foreign music stations. I find that I work well with music in the background, but on those days when I’m having challenges focusing, I need music that becomes a bit more ambient. I find that checking out iTunes radio stations in non-English languages makes it easy to find a good station with no worries about getting caught up in the lyrics. I’ve found that French ambient stations work well for me – my husband leans more towards classical when he really needs to focus. Find what works best for you.
And if all else fails…give yourself a break and walk away. You don’t need to beat yourself up over this. Sometimes we just can’t seem to get our shit together. There’s no fault in that. So pick yourself up, head over to the couch (maybe pick up a glass of wine on the way), and watch a fun movie or read a good book. Allow this moment of imperfection without judgement.
As Scarlett O’Hara puts it, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” And there’s always a tomorrow.