Centering oneself and finding balance in the hectic workday can be a lifelong task, or can it?
With the right guidance, it is possible for even the busiest, most fast paced workers to become more focused on what they are doing and less distracted.
Most people have some difficulty focusing. As a leadership and mindfulness consultant, I am perpetually heightening focus through various activities. Below are two activities that I use to help people learn to increase their focus. The goal when improving focus is also to increase productivity.
Two Activities That Improve Focus and Increase Productivity
These two activities are mini-games that you play with your mind. The goal is not to “beat” the game, but to participate and learn as much as you can by focusing on the tiniest of details.
The goal here is to get ink or graphite or marker on paper, and study how you draw. Don’t try to draw an object like a house or a dog; instead, draw abstractly. Draw circles, shapes, color some in, make some striped, but take your time with this. You want to concentrate on evolving the piece, and studying how each part works to create the whole image.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while practicing this exercise:
How fast/slow are you drawing?
Are your lines more geometric or more organic? More angled or curved?
Does the thickness of your pen/pencil/marker change if you tilt your instrument?
Does the ink bleed/pencil imprint through the paper at all? Does it leave an impression on the next paper?
How do the materials you are working with smell? Is the marker pungent?
Is the pencil rubbing off onto your hand?
Does the finished product resemble anything in particular?
Ask and answer as many questions as possible. Then tomorrow, try something different. Use a pen instead of a pencil. Hold two pens in the same hand. Maybe you try to keep the pen stable, and rotate the paper around it? Experimenting is key to learning how you focus.
From my personal experience, mindful drawing is not only helpful to focus, but a lot of fun. Sometimes I will try to draw as slowly as possible, and at other times, try to draw as fast as I can. Sometimes, I’ll draw with my eyes closed, and other times with one eye open. The more you practice drawing, and exploring what you can do, the more fun it can become.
Take a Walk
Take a lap around your office floor, office building or even around the neighborhood. You are going to begin counting and noticing everything. Count the number of things (plants, lights, people, animals, etc.).
Take longer than you should to walk around. Instead of taking a five-minute walk, in the same space take a ten-minute walk. Give yourself the time to study the environment and notice tiny details that you may not have noticed before.
Ask yourself questions like:
How many leaves are on that plant? How do they feel? How do they smell?
What exact color is the wall?
How many times does the wallpaper design repeat between office doors?
How many of the tiny tiles on the floor fit between my steps?
How many steps does it take me to get from my office door to the water fountain?
How many steps to the bathroom? To the mailroom? To the elevator?
The more we study things that are seemingly meaningless without breaking focus, the more we drive our subconscious to value tiny details. Studying the tiny cracks in the floor is just an excuse to study something with minute details. It breaks the mundaneness that can fill a typical work day.
By taking a break to focus, one trains the mind to dive deeper and deeper and focus on the tiny details that allow productivity to increase.
These activities are great to do in the morning before work, during a lunch break, or even after work. They are solely meant to allow your mind to drive to some focal point, that you will continue to develop with more training.
Try these exercises once a day to start, and then increase to maybe twice a day. It will help keep your mind at ease, and help you to deal with stressors with a clearer mind.
Max Cron is a consultant for Point Above, a mindfulness and leadership consultant agency that aims at helping people and businesses with development into a more focused and productive entity. Through various courses and seminars, any person or company can be a more mindful leader.