The “after Vacay” – feeling of focus… all year round

That "after vacay" feeling of focus

It’s no secret that modern work life is filled with distractions – emails, phone calls, messages and chats are disrupting us and decreasing our ability to focus and lowering the quality of our work. 

According to the Book “One second ahead” by Danish author Rasmus Hougaard ( also Founder of The Potential Project which delivers corporate mindfulness programs), using the following technique helps to rewire the brain to focus and create more joy in our work. 

There are several strategies and techniques that if applied to our daily routines, can cut time waste and help us prioritize our work among the many distractions that modern workers face today.

 

“In fact, it is mentioned that workers are only focusing on their tasks 53 % of the time during the day”

 

Do you know that feeling when you come back after vacation, with lots of energy and focus on your tasks?

Here is a shortcut to that exact feeling!

An inspiration of mine I like to share is the “One second ahead method”, which I hope will give you some food for thought on how you plan your workday, I have added my 7 steps “mindfulness implementation guide” that will help you get started on getting that “after vacay”-feeling all year round. 


The first thing to realize is that you need to have a strategy for how to cope with distractions. In the book, Hougaard describes the “Rules of Mental Effectiveness” – these are:

  1. Focus on what you choose – have a clear priority of what you want to focus on, and when a distraction happens you will immediately know how to respond to it. This will help you reduce the action you need to take when you are disturbed. Note, that most distractions can be coped with later!
  2. Choose your distractions mindfully – our brains are not built for multitasking, so try to stay as focused as possible without any disturbances. If you decide that the best thing to do is to take action on the email or phone call, make sure it is worth it!

Now, You have three options on how to react on the distraction:

  1. Ignore the distraction and continue to focus on your task at hand
  2. When receiving a message or email, either delay the response or write back that you look forward to having a discussion with them at a later point, for example at a planned meeting.
  3. Take action immediately on the distraction, then go immediately back to your task.

ABCD of the One Second Ahead method

This method is a tool that uses a mindfulness approach on training our brains ability to stay focused and alert. What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

 

The one second ahead method is about pausing for one second when you are hit by a distraction and reflect on whether you want to shift you focus or stay in the present moment.

 

This delay in your response will train your brains ability to stay in a zone of high concentration and mental clarity, hence improving your performance in the long run.

So here is the “ABCD” on how to train yourself in this simple but powerful approach:

  • “Anatomy” – your body can be a distraction. So, to prep yourself sit up straight on a chair and put both feet squarely on the floor. Close your eyes. Slowly connect with your breath and start to release all tension in your body. This can take a minute or two before you are really grounded.
  • “Breathing” – Your attention requires an anchor: your breath. Focus fully on your breathing. Concentrate on your stomach expanding and contracting with your breathing. Don’t try to control your breathing. Just observe it
  • “Counting” – Count sets of 10 breaths – one in-breath and one out-breath. Then count another series of 10 sets, but this time backward. Repeat. Counting improves your focus. If you find yourself reaching a number higher than 10, you are operating on autopilot, which is the opposite of “managing your attention.” Should this happen, simply begin the counting process again. For your mindfulness training, keep “the end goals in sight – a relaxed body and a calm mind.” If counting doesn’t relax you, don’t do it
  • “Distractions” – You may erroneously assume that distractions – “anything that is not your breath” – have no place in mindfulness training. The point of training is to learn how to manage your distractions. Therefore, you want some distractions during your training. Handle them with three strategies. First, “relax.” Second, “release” – get rid of the distraction by focusing on your breathing. Move your focus from the distraction to your breathing. Third, “Return” – once you have eliminated the distraction from your mind, return to your breathing.

Going forward: How to implement mindfulness

Use these techniques and strategies in the office and at home to handle distractions and live mindfully:

  • Emails – Turn off your email notifications, pop-up windows, alarms and ring tones. Set aside three specific times during the day – not early morning – to handle emails.
  • Meetings – With the right mental attitude, you can be fully present for meetings
  • Communication – Effective interactions involve being present. Breathe and listen.
  • Beginner’s mind – Mindfulness practitioners refer to a “fresh perspective” as beginner’s mind. It can provide clarity, which leads to creativity and new ideas.
  • “Letting go” – have a ritual at the end of your day to mentally “cleanse” yourself. It can be exercise, meditation, walking in nature or anything where you are relaxed. 
  • Priorities – employees spend an average of 41% of their time on low-priority activities. Pause briefly to think about which tasks are most important. Then attend to them.
  • Get started: Just give it a try and feel what works best for you. As long as you are honest with yourself, you will find the perfect method for you.

Author

Nasreen Begum

Advisory Board Member at Career Club DK

Talent Acquisition Specialist

Connect with Nasreen on LinkedIn!

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