Remember the saying, "feed a cold, starve a fever"? Our generation needs to follow an edited version of the saying; feed your focus, starve your distractions.
There’s no denying that our generation struggles with consistent focus. Even as I write this blog, I’ve stopped to sip my coffee 3 times, looked at my phone twice and thought about the next few things on my to do list. What happened to being present?
Multiple screen time with an over consumption of bite-size information.
We’ve trained our minds to consume information in bite-size doses. We think we're being ultra efficient by doing this but in reality, we never allow our brains to settle into a consistent focused state or "flow".
Our justifications sound something like, if I just take a quick 5 minute break to respond to this message, I won’t have to do it later. The problem is, when you take your brain out of a state of flow and ask it to focus on something else for 5 minutes it takes double the amount of time to jump back into what you were originally working on.
Here’s a fun everyday example:
Imagine you’re on your way to work and you get a notification that someone commented on your latest Instagram post. We all know how exciting that is! That's real life gratification right there. So you obviously stop in your tracks to read the message.
Then you start to wonder what that person has been up to. So you click on their profile. They got married! Oh wow, you went to highschool with one of the bridesmaids. How weird! You click on her profile. Oh my gosh, she has the dog you want! You take a screenshot and send the picture of the dog to your sister. You look up at the time…you’re late!
Frustrated, you run out the door beating yourself up for getting dragged down the insta-vortex. With your mind n a fog from all the extra screen time, you suddenly realize you left your transit pass at home. You go back to get it and then in a final huff of anxiety your run down the street to catch the streetcar. We've all been there.
Here’s another way to handle the same situation:
You’re almost out the door and someone comments on your latest Instagram post. We all know how exciting that is! Curious, you make a mental note (or put a reminder in your calendar) to check it later and put your phone away. You come home in the evening, put all your bags down, and settle onto the couch with your phone and a blanket.
‘Hey Google, set an alarm for 30 minutes.’
The timer goes on and you now have one whole hour of uninterrupted social media time. This is the only time of the day you allow yourself to check your social media accounts. So you must use it wisely. You respond to your messages but don’t spend too much time dwelling. Instead you catch up on your friends’ stories, update yourself on what the latest news and check on a few accounts of influencers you follow. When the 30 minutes is over, you’re all caught up, and somehow don't feel muddled or anxious. Why? You made yourself boss and put social media in a time slot you can manage.
Master your time so YOU can own your day.
It’s that time of year when many of us start to feel the impending doom of going back to work. As we close off a festive holiday season and start trying to get our minds into productive work mode again, it’s natural to feel a little anxious. In fact, there’s actually a trending term for this exact feeling. It’s called the ‘Sunday Scaries’ and it’s that much more real after we’ve all just had a leisurely week or two weeks off for the holidays.
I’ve been reading many articles about the ‘Sunday Scaries’ to try to figure out how we can conquer them. According to numerous articles and blogs, one way to conquer this type of anxiety is by being in a job you love and get excited about every single day. If we all loved our daily work, there would be no concept of anxiety around going back to work. This is because our pre-work anxiety typically comes when we struggle to find purpose in our jobs. When we’re in jobs we love, however, we tend to feel like we have a true calling for the roles we’re in and that they align with our purpose. Therefore, instead of feeling anxious about going back to work, we’re pumped because it’s exactly where we’re supposed to be. If this is you, well done. You’ve found your purpose and thus, likely outdone the post-holiday, pre-work anxiety.
The good news is you can still beat pre-work anxiety if you’re not in a job you view as your “dream job”. Many of us are working towards our dream jobs while simultaneously clocking the hours in a job we like. If this sounds more like you, don’t worry, you can also find your purpose and beat that feeling of impending anxiety before going back to work. Purpose can be found in any situation, it just requires some reflection.
Here’s the trick
1. Think about what lights you up inside. What tasks do you look forward to doing at work? These would be the tasks that allow you to enter your state of flow and lose complete track of time. Make note of when this happens.
2. Determine how the above tasks translate into achieving business goals for your company. For example, if you love talking to people and find yourself the most lit up in conversation. Look for areas where your company can grow through partnerships and have conversations with your manager about ways you can get involved in initiating and nurturing those partnerships. This will allow you to use your conversational skills for the greater good of your company. On the flip side, if you like to stay to yourself at work but love analyzing spreadsheets and understanding the processes of your company. Look for areas where your company isn’t operating efficiently and find solutions to create smoother processes. People will love you for creating more efficiencies in their systems and your company may even save money through your recommendations.
3. Accept the emotions as part of the process. No job is going to be 100% perfect. Not even your dream job. You’re always going to be involved in a project or task that doesn’t light you up. However, this becomes more bearable when you’ve determined where your purpose is at your company and commit to dedicating an increasing amount of time to fulfilling that purpose.
It's important to always chase our dreams but there’s no point feeling anxious while we wait for them to manifest. You can find true joy when you take control of the process that you’re in right now by finding your purpose in it. Understanding ourselves and where our strengths truly lie will help us uncover more joy in our everyday work. As Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” Find your purpose, your one kick, and master it.
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