Maintaining focus

Here are some pointers to help you focus. A shorter version appeared in this weekend's Express newspaper.

When did you last sit down and become absorbed in a book, or hobby? The non-stop world of the internet and mobile phones means paying attention to one task is more difficult than ever before.

Yet we are happier and more efficient when fully engaged with whatever we're doing at one time. Being in a state of 'flow', as it's sometimes called, is well known to musicians and sports people.

As the yoga sage Patanjali said, being totally focused on one aim, or object, is a major part of yoga and meditation, and is practised by practitioners of Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism.

Much of the secret comes down to training our minds, and organising our lives so we are not constantly bombarded by distractions.

  • Set limits on email and tex checking. Set your email to flash up once every 20 minutes, or longer. Only check Facebook once a day, or less.
  • Turn off the computer and phone at a sensible time in the evening and don't let yourself check messages. Keep mealtimes a computer and phone-free time: you deserve the break.
  • Although some of us are naturally more focused than others, focusing your mind is a learned behaviour. Begin your training by actively concentrating on one task at a time. Try not to become frustrated; when your mind shoots off, draw it back kindly to the task at hand.
  • Take up meditation - one technique is to count just before you breath in. So count one and then breath in and out. Count two, breathe in and out. Whenever you lost your count just start from one again. Firm practice will boost concentration levels.

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