Everyone experiences difficulty focussing on tasks at times and this can be due to a number of factors. Most common are anxiety and fear (fear of success as well as the more obvious fear of failure), low self-esteem and stress. Depression also tends to inhibit our ability to focus and make decisions.
The consequences of not getting things done range from the inconvenient to the serious. The stress of deadlines and unfinished tasks piling up is often accompanied by guilt. Both of these, when compounded and prolonged, can lead to depression, which makes it even more difficult to get things done.
Furthermore, there is the risk of being taken less seriously by colleagues, friends and family (we’ve all experienced that ‘yeah, right’ feeling when someone says they’ll do something but but we know that it will probably never happen). Finally, of course, there is the real risk of not
realising your potential and fulfilling your dreams.
It’s time to make a change.
Fortunately, there is hope.
As a hypnotherapist, I have seen great changes in my clients as we work through anxieties, fears and limiting beliefs that may have been there for decades. I also help people manage stress and build confidence in themselves, retraining the conscious and subconscious minds to shut out distractions and focus on tasks.
It is hugely rewarding when people visualise making the changes they desire and gain a sense of control. This visualisation, not only of having achieved the desired outcome (and how great that feels), but also of going through the process to get there becomes a mental rehearsal and sends a very powerful request for change into the subconscious mind, which then allows you to make these changes happen.
Alongside hypnotherapy, there are some strategies you can use that many people have found helpful.
1. Tell people what you are going to do. This will make it more likely that you actually do it because, let’s face it, we all care how we are perceived by others.
2. Make a deal with yourself that includes a motivating reward when you successfully complete an outcome. Rewards may include a trip to the cinema, a massage, a phone call to a friend etc – whatever is likely to make you feel good. Or include a penalty if you don’t achieve the task.
3. Break tasks down into smaller chunks. This is less daunting and makes it more likely that you will get there as each completed chunk will bring you a step closer to the overall goal.
4. Set yourself ‘minimums’. This means that, instead of telling yourself you will pay all your bills this morning, or write a paragraph by lunchtime, promise yourself you will pay at least one bill and write at least two sentences. Chances are high that, once you have done this less intimidating thing, you will continue until you have done more than the minimum.
5. Have a dedicated place to do your work – and a dedicated place to take breaks and switch off.
6. Get stuck in to what you have to do as early in the day as you can. This has two main benefits. Firstly, it means you are less likely to spend all day making excuses, procrastinating or finding something ‘more important’ to do. Secondly, that feeling of having accomplished something will set you up for the rest of the day, making you feel great and on a roll.
7. Keep your focus on what you can realistically achieve, rather than on what has to be done.
8. Avoid the temptation to multi-task. Keep focussed until you achieve what you have set out to achieve (the smaller task), then take a break, do something else, then come back and focus on your next task. Most people can focus for around half an hour, so plan for this.
9. Look after your body. Make sure you are exercising and keeping hydrated. Not only will this reduce distractions (including hunger and thirst signals from the body) and even mild dehydration has been shown to reduce attention, but the movement involved in exercise, particularly aerobic, causes the brain to release a chemical called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which enhances memory and focus.
10. Practise mindfulness. Learning to be fully present in the moment allows you increasing mastery over those distractions and anxieties that flit through the mind.
Many of these issues, of course, are common to ADD and ADHD. You might be interested to know that hypnotherapy can help you if you suffer from ADD or ADHD. In fact, as Nancy points out in an interview (below), it is often the case that the more ‘ADD’ they are, the more easily they go into hypnosis and can therefore benefit from this relaxing, drug-free treatment.
If you would like help in addressing focus issues, drop me a line!
Until next time,
Darryl McCullagh DIP HYP CS / Cert HYPb