Productive Mondays: How to Improve Your Focus

Welcome to our weekly series, “Productive Mondays.” As you might guess from the title, we’ll post every Monday, and we’ll answer your questions about how to do better and do more in the workplace. If you have a question you’d like us to tackle, place it in the comments below, tweet us @GovLoop, or email catherine@govloop.com — and we’ll make sure to address it in a future post.

In previous posts on this series about productivity, we’ve addressed dealing with the officer ‘timezapper’, and how to better prioritize your projects. But what if your productivity problems don’t result from external circumstances like an annoying coworker or simply too much to do? What if you just can’t seem to focus?

I find that when we’re being unproductive, it’s not that we’re lazy or don’t want to do something, but that we suffer from an enormous lack of focus. There are just so many distractions, and our mind is racing, and we can’t turn off the thinking process about everything that we have to do, and why we’re so stressed, and how much there is to get done. This really stresses us out, and we just get so incredibly overwhelmed that it seems easier to do nothing than start to tackle the mounting list of things that we have in front of us.

Therefore a lack of focus can really present itself as a productivity issue. So how can you fix it? My preferred answer: try meditation.

Meditation can really help with this focus and stress problem many of us are confronted with in this easy access, all digital, distracted world. Five minutes of sitting in a quiet spot, closing your eyes, and counting your breaths to ten – you’d be surprised how much of an affect that can have on you if you do it once or twice a day.

And you don’t have to be a Buddhist expert to practice meditation. I just do it for the focus and stress reduction benefits. Ideally, 3-5 times a week, I take 10 minutes in the morning to sit and breath quietly and try to empty my mind, and then again at night. It starts out as really hard to do – thoughts will constantly come flooding in – but the brain really is a large muscle and like any athletic endeavor, it will get easier the more you do it.

Need some help getting started? This blog post on meditation for beginners is a great place to start, and the Simply Being meditation apps are useful for guided efforts.

Don’t be nervous or scared — meditation can be hard to start, but you’ll start to feel the effects of it after just a few sessions. You’ll be calmer, less stressed, more able to focus, and better at figuring out your priorities. So if you want to be more effective at work, try meditation — those five minutes a day could lead to a lifetime of better productivity.

If you have a question you’d like us to tackle for “Productive Mondays,” place it in the comments below, tweet us @GovLoop, or email catherine@govloop.com — and we’ll make sure to address it in a future post.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply