Ten Ways to Focus for Greater Success By Jim Sobosan
You know a commonly held belief is, folks with ADD or ADHD can’t focus, but that is quite inaccurate. Actually children and adults with ADD/ADHD are able to focus and in fact focus intensely at times. This is most likely to occur when the task or subject matter is interesting and compelling. It is more accurate to say individuals with ADD have difficulty focusing on what they need to when they need to. Fortunately there are some strategies that can increase the potential for focusing affectively and thus reducing last minute scrambling.
1. Define your optimum focus/work limit.
Each of us has a varied and limited time for affective focus. For some it may be as long as an hour or more, for others it may only be five or ten minutes. It is important to know what your critical stretch is and to plan your work accordingly. Whatever your maximum focus time, it is important to maximize your effort during this time. It’s not how long you work hard it is how hard you work during that time.
2. Minimize the noise and distraction. Yes that means turning off your computer, cell phone, television while you are working. Close your office door during peak focus time. Block out focus time on your schedule. Don’t answer phone calls or meet with co-workers during this time If you don’t have an office find a quiet, comfortable room, or perhaps the library to work in
3. Take a break. Break up your allotted focus time with something fun, relaxing or interesting. Take a short walk outside, get a snack, meditate, read an interesting article, exercise. You get the idea.
Some people suggest playing a short game or talking with a friend. I say this is fine as long as you have the ability to stop and resume your work when your break is over. If you get engrossed in the game or discussion and you have a difficult time returning to the task at hand, this will only add to your angst and frustration.
4. Maintain accountability. Set a completion time or date and share this information with someone you trust to remember and remind you. Check in with them to let them know how you are doing.
5. If your focused task is tedious, boring or complicated be sure to break your effort into smaller parts, especially if it is something you don’t enjoy doing. Some people like to attend to the least interesting parts first to get over the hump, while others prefer to leave them for last. I suggest going with the one that is most likely to get you to the finish line. If what you are doing isn’t working try the reverse.
6. Get clarity! Remember, it isn’t that you can’t focus. It’s more likely that you focus on what is interesting and stimulating rather than on what is most critical at the moment. So ask for help when you have multiple things to attend to. Ask someone one in the know what your most critical task to focus on is and when it is due.
7. Try using background music or nature sounds when you are working on a task or project. Many people find this helpful in centering thoughts and focus. If you are someone that is distracted by any noise at all this would be a very bad plan and you are likely to send me an unfriendly note.
8. Break up the monotony by alternating difficult tasks with more enjoyable or interesting ones to work on.
9. Reward yourself at the end of successful project. Folks with ADD/ADHD typically have a need for immediate gratification. Plan out a way you can get rewarded for a period of productive focus and effort. If you must delay the reward make it something really worth waiting for, like a pony or a chocolate coated in gold.
10. You may find that every effort to follow these suggestions is met with little success. It is possible that no matter how diligently you apply some of these suggestions that you are unable to make little progress with improved focus. You may be someone who will need the benefit of a medication or natural supplement. I have worked with a number of people who simply could not attain the level of focus and attention they needed without the aid of medication. These folks typically have reported an increased ability to focus better for longer periods of time. Medications will work differently for each of us. There are also natural supplements that have reportedly assisted with improved focus. I would encourage you to have a discussion with your primary doctor or a psychiatrist to discuss medications or supplements that might be beneficial options.
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