The Eagles season opener is this month! And you know what that means? Summer has come to an end and cooler months are headed our way. Some coin this time of year “Back to School” or “Pumpkin Spice” season but we know the truth. The final quarter of the year is now looming before us. For many, the fourth quarter is the busiest time of the year. Preparing for those last three months is critical to success. The goal? Same as the 4th quarter of the Eagles game—how do we go out there and finish this game (year) with focus and finesse? It’s huddle time, folks. We have one month to get our ducks in a row.
Seeing as we’re not yet in the thick of it, the challenge for the month is preparation. There are books, videos, blogs, and articles available with tricks and techniques to help one re-focus amid the chaos, but how can we strategically position ourselves for optimum results before it actually hits? Let’s take the month of September to hone our skills, a little boot camp if you will, and get ready for the final minutes of play.
First, let’s Eliminate Distractions. It seems so obvious and yet many of us are unaware of the obstacles preventing us from focusing on the task at hand. Distractions can increase your workload and stress levels. According to a study by the University of California, it can take up to 23 minutes before you are able to refocus before you were interrupted. The distractions may come in the form of a chatty co-worker which can often be solved with a set of headphones and a wave of the hand. The ding of a new email or text notification can be resolved by simply silencing your phone periodically throughout the day. Or the disturbance could be internal, like exhaustion, in which case you may want to start making it a habit now to go to bed at a reasonable hour during the workweek, so you are rested and alert. (Vetter, n.d.)
Next, why not consider Monotasking or Single tasking? Although many of us gloat in our ability to multitask and revel in all that we believe we can do at once, research has shown that our brains are not nearly as good at handling multiple tasks as we think we are. Shifting our attention in this way from one task to another makes it difficult to tune out those distractions we just spoke of and creates mental blocks that can significantly lower our productivity. Instead, why not review your calendar at the beginning of the week and assign yourself a specific focus for each day of the work week. Keep your mind and body in one place at one time in order to bring your “A Game” to each task at hand. (Cherry, How Multitasking Affects Productivity and Brain Health, 2020)
Last, but certainly not least, Take Breaks. Strategic breaks can promote productivity as well as creativity, helping to refresh your brain and see a situation in a whole new way. Working for hours at a time without stepping away can lead to stress and exhaustion. Taking a break replenishes your mental resources allowing for that creativity to shine through and increases your level of engagement. Remember to stay in touch with yourself. If you hit a “flow” and are completely absorbed in a task with effortless concentration and are enjoying it, keep working. Take this month to learn how to impose your breaks organically. (Fagan, 2017)
The tools we need to prepare are there. The challenge this month is to pick one, two or all three of these strategies mentioned above and try to master them by month’s end. It’s not easy to maintain attention and effort until the deal is finalized, the job is complete, or in this case, the fiscal year comes to close. We want to be ready to “take the field” next month and play our best until the final whistle blows.
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Cherry, K. (2020, September 17). 7 Useful Tips for Improving Your Mental Focus. Retrieved from verywellmind.com: https://www.verywellmind.com/things-you-can-do-to-improve-your-mental-focus-4115389
Cherry, K. (2020, March 26). How Multitasking Affects Productivity and Brain Health. Retrieved from verywellmind.com: https://www.verywellmind.com/multitasking-2795003
Fagan, A. (2017, April 18). How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201704/how-do-work-breaks-help-your-brain-5-surprising-answers
Vetter, A. (n.d.). 4 Ways to Stay Present During the Crazy Busy Times at Work. Retrieved from inc.com: https://www.inc.com/amy-vetter/4-ways-to-stay-present-during-crazy-busy-times-at-work.html