Oh, you’re not the only one who loses focus after waking up.
All of us have experienced this many times. Maybe we start the day with great ideas or big plans of what we want to do. Maybe we get a rush of energy just thinking about these things. And then something happens: we find ourselves rushing in the morning, we are running late on our way to work or school, we forget to bring things along with us, we start feeling overwhelmed with the volume of tasks on our ever-growing list. Or maybe none of those things happen, but we find ourselves procrastinating about getting started with the day, and next thing we know, it’s lunchtime and our focus is just gone—plain and simple.
Sounds familiar, right?
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s a big difference between having an idea and acting on the idea, just as there’s a big difference between beginning the day with good intentions and actually making things happen.
And that, right there, is how you can get out of this situation.
Start making things happen.
Here are 5 ideas that can help you get there.
Idea #1. Confront your procrastination by replacing the words “I can’t do this!” with “Why not try it?”
Hey, we’re all guilty of procrastinating at some point in our life. It doesn’t require a lot of effort, and it’s almost a default reaction to something challenging.
How do you do it?
- First, ask yourself if there is something else hiding behind procrastination. Maybe it is fear of not being able to do something successfully, not being able to be better at it than other people, or maybe not even understanding why we are doing something to begin with.
- Next time you feel like procrastinating, rather than immediately reacting with “I can’t do it”, ask yourself where the resistance is coming from. Be honest with yourself. Start with providing an explanation, for example by saying, “I can’t because….” Then you’ll know the source of your resistance.
- Think of what you gain when you say “Why not?” You win over fear and you start thinking beyond obstacles. There is something powerful when you leave a door open to explore possibilities, instead of shutting that same door in your own face. It’s a subtle change in your attitude that can have a big impact in your life.
Idea #2. Train your brain to focus by asking yourself this question every morning: “What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?”
It’s a simple brain training technique that makes it easy for your brain to focus on goals that are important to you right now. It also boosts your critical thinking skills because it forces you to prioritize what’s most relevant.
How do you do it?
- Put it in writing. Write it in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall.
- Read it out loud as you start your day, and come up with an answer on the spot.
- Follow up by taking action and by reminding yourself throughout the day about the commitment you made.
Idea #3. Get your brain on board.
Before you start doing anything new, get your brain on board with what you’re about to do. It helps you get motivated to take action and become fully absorbed in whatever is in front of you.
How do you do it?
- Instead of approaching something as a chore, turn it into a choice. Tell yourself, “This is something I really want to learn more about!” The benefit? It gives you a greater sense of control about what you’re doing. That’s much better than feeling like you’re reacting to things or you’re obligated to do things that are not your idea.
- Remind yourself of the reason for action with this question: “Why am I doing this?” Make the connection with the initial reasons for working on something to begin with. It can be to learn a new skill, research a topic you’re interested in, study for an exam so you can graduate and start your career, explore a business opportunity, solve a specific problem at work, etc.
- Visualize what you’re about to do. This is a technique called building a mental model, where you imagine all the steps you’ll be taking. For example, if you are researching something new, visualize covering a certain amount of material, taking notes on important concepts, and writing down what you’ll need to follow up on later. By telling yourself a story, you map out the entire learning process so it’s easier for your brain to understand it.
Idea #4. Make your personal goals a top priority.
Whether you’re a student, working full-time, or taking time off to be a parent or start your own business, you should do whatever is possible to work on your personal development. If you don’t, it will eventually catch up with you and may leave you feeling unhappy or overwhelmed with ordinary daily activities.
How do you do it?
- Start thinking about the big picture. Ask yourself—where do you want to be 5 or 10 years from now? Who do you want to become? What is a dream scenario for you: a life in a specific city, having a partner to share your life journey with, being surrounded by smart and interesting people who contribute to your personal growth, being fluent in another language? Get specific with the description of your ideal life.
- Second, narrow it down. Set aside an hour or two one evening to do the following:
- Write down your top 3 personal goals.
- Under each, write down 3 things you would need to do on a consistent basis to get you closer to each goal.
- Then, make a plan for the week ahead so that you can devote blocks of time to making progress in the areas you’ve identified.
Idea #5. Keep learning, keep improving, keep hacking your life.
Now that you’ve started to incorporate some changes into your life to remain focused on things that are your top priority, all you need to do is continue moving forward. Life is not static, and your efforts should also not be static. Think about ways to improve what you’re doing each day.
How do you do it?
- Measure your progress. Find ways to measure how you’re moving forward. Maybe you’ll set aside 30 minutes each day to focus on learning a new skill. If so, add up the hours at the end of the week and see if you can add more time each day, even if it’s just a few more minutes. Then see how many hours you’ve devoted to it in a month.
- Evaluate how you’re doing. Ask yourself a few questions to understand how you’re keeping up with the goals you’ve set for yourself. For example, did some activities you started doing take more time than you anticipated? What could you have done better? Where can you make adjustments to stay on track?
- Take time to appreciate the change. Yes, it’s important to make progress, to stay focused, to reach that important goal. But every step of the way in getting there is super important too. So find the time each evening to pause and reflect on what you’re doing, and give yourself some well-deserved praise for all those efforts. It really does feel good to be aware that you’re on the right track!