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Anonymous Career Advice

How To Get Back On Track

In this week’s anonymous career advice column, we tackle:

How do you get back on track when you feel like you have lost focus?

This is something many of us struggle with on a weekly basis, even someone who prides themselves on focus and productivity we all have times where we get off track or lose our focus and need different methods and techniques to combat “focus fatigue”.  

Short Term 

Take a break 

Did you know breaks are great for procrastination and improving focus on a task? It is important to remember it should be a break not many breaks. 

Timebox 

Something that is hard-wired in us to hit a deadline with a time box, if you give yourself 30 minutes to focus on something, you will be surprised by how quickly you can get it done or reclaim your focus. 

Go for a walk 

Walks aren’t only good for creativity and resetting your mindset, it is great to give a different perspective on an issue or a task. There are many 

Drink more water

Hydration is essential, speaking to sports coaches and nutritionists the first thing they recommend is diet change and more water intake, this is no different in a professional office environment. 

Drinking more water (less caffeine) is usually the right step to take. 

If like me and rarely drink coffee but know it can really give me a power-up, consider if your coffee could be replaced by matcha tea or a more natural energy drink to boost focus. 

A small quantity of chocolate and nuts are proven to help with gaining focus, as is ginseng. 

Breathe 

Over the last five years, I have been introduced to three different breathing techniques, one is breathe in for two seconds, breathe out for four ten times, the other two are variations of this technique, 4 in 8 out, 5 in 10 out in two rounds. Breathing is so important to controlling stress, anxiety and sleep. 

Do something fun to break the cycle 

Get out of your environment is always the most important piece of guidance experts suggest, especially if you have lost your focus or struggling with completing something. You can play the Nintendo, read a chapter of your book, go to the gym, have a coffee and a stroll. The cycle needs to be acknowledged and broken to refocus. 

Create a plan 

This will make some personality types shutter, I recommend changing seats and view and writing out all of the most important steps to get there, writing is important as you sit for many hours stirring at your laptop or PC and creates blocks. 

When I have lost focus, I like to sketch and draw mine out first, typically then connected with different colours like being at school and then write out or type out. This can be rough but prioritisation is a good way to attack lack of focus. 

Nap 

Not something you can do in an office setting (well, most) a nap is proven to help regain focus or provide focus in a foggy mind. 

Brainstorm

This might sound counterintuitive to data-driven folk, brainstorms are great to change focus and look forward to something positive. Consider creating a small group of you who could brainstorm or discuss ideas regularly. 

Mid To Long Term

Complete a Risks vs benefit framework

This is one of the most popular read focus newsletters and one which is often referenced back to me. 

Create a master list and reduce down

I am a huge list fan, I create a master list every week, prioritse and score, I often refine down and then each morning write out the five prioritises for the day head, scoring your day also helps to gamify your focus and provides quick feedback and dopamine kicks. 

Create a daily prioritisation

Every day can seem hard work, every exec I coach, I recommend daily prioritisations, start your day with it every morning, review at lunchtime, understand how the land might have shifted and then review and score at the close of play.  

Look for an internal coach or internal mentor

If you are struggling with this, consider how you might look for an internal coach or an internal mentor, reverse mentorship is an option as helping others often helps to focus you. 

Look for an external career coach or career mentor

As a consultant and coach who has greatly benefitted historically from a great personal professional coach, I strongly recommend and advocate looking for an external coach or mentor who can help steer your career and help to direct you fortnightly or monthly against clear skills (a 1-2-1 executive coach and a coaches job is to improve core skills and have set goals) and goals. 

Best of luck regaining your focus and I trust one of these many techniques help you and those around you.

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