Despite our best efforts to buffer ourselves from distractions, we will be forced to negotiate thousands of them each day. Broker-owner Pam Blair offers tips to hone your focus and find your center.
Every morning, I find myself on one end of a leash being pulled to the park, navigating my footing, cars, people, the sound of the garbage truck, the weather and more. For my dog, the only thing that exists in that four-block journey is the ball. She is imagining running in the field chasing the ball. She is 100 percent focused.
We live in a world of constant distraction on endless levels, and the ante is up these days in the world of real estate. Our attention can be easily hijacked by headlines — like the ongoing commission lawsuit saga — interest rates, production numbers and more. This is natural. We need to be aware and educated to be effective. The danger can be in becoming consumed by the distractions.
When you break your focus, you lose your power.
The athlete, the hunter, the racecar driver, the poker player, the musician whose attention suddenly shifts out of the moment immediately dilutes their potency. This loss of focus can cause stress and, can apparently, be very expensive.
Gallup found that employees who are not engaged cost their company the equivalent of 18 percent of their annual salary. That’s as much as a referral fee in our world.
It is impossible to eliminate distraction, so the key is consciously working with it so we can focus effectively.
7 tips to hone your focus
1. Feed your brain
According to a Medical News Today article, The brain is an energy-intensive organ, using around 20 percent of the body’s oxygen and calories, so it needs plenty of good fuel to maintain concentration throughout the day.
The good news is that dark chocolate and coffee both made the good brain food list. Throw in some oily fish, berries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, avocados and dark green leafy veggies, and you are eating a focus-friendly diet.
2. Exercise daily
Not only does exercising daily help with appetite, mood and sleep, all of which affect our ability to focus, but it can actually change our brains. Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking, and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don’t.
3. Control your imagery
Be like my dog: Where your attention goes, you follow. Adopt a mindfulness practice like meditation or yoga to become more aware of what you are thinking and imagining. Keep the practice time doable, even if it is only for 2-5 minutes a day, and build upon it if you can. Once we become more aware of our thoughts and imagery, then we can make more conscious choices around them to support our focus.
4. Create a supportive environment
Take inventory of your working environment and make modifications to support focusing. Reduce noise levels by choosing a quieter space, turning off device notifications and consider adding white noise or wearing headphones if necessary. Regulate the room temperature so that it is comfortable. Make sure that your workstation (chair, desk, computer set up) is ergonomic for you and supports your body. Minimize visual clutter. Use a “do not disturb” sign when needed.
5. Choose how you use your energy
Each day we only have so much energy to expend. Being intentional about how you spend your energy by time blocking is helpful. Consciously decide how much time you will allow for social media, news, etc., and stick to it.
6. Prioritize sleep and rest
According to a Bettermind article, “If you don’t get enough sleep — even for just one night— your thought processes can slow down, you’re less alert than normal and your ability to concentrate suffers. You can become so confused that you can’t perform tasks requiring complex thought. It’s also hard to remember and learn new things if you’re sleepy and that also affects focus negatively.”
Allow for wind-down time prior to bed and go to bed at a consistent time each night. Time block for rest, whatever that looks like for you, including extended rest times like vacations.
7. Take breaks and practice ‘unfocus’
Interestingly, some studies show that a certain amount of distraction or unfocus is healthy. A Harvard Health Publishing article suggests that “your brain is wired for focus and unfocus to work together.” One example of a healthy break or “unfocus” is a 10-minute power nap in the afternoon.
Or consider what Jerome Singer coins “positive, constructive daydreaming.” This is letting the mind wander during low-impact activities like weeding the garden or vacuuming the house. Just be aware of the imagery floating around in your mind during those activities. Rather than rehashing the conversation you had with your client, perhaps imagine lying on a warm beach to rejuvenate yourself.
Despite our best efforts to buffer ourselves from distractions, we will be forced to negotiate thousands of them each day. As with most things, finding a healthy balance between being distracted and focusing is the goal. By taking the time to hone our focus, we will find ourselves less affected by what is outside of our control and find a feeling of more wholeness about our days and what we accomplish.
Pam Blair is the broker-owner of YogaBug Real Estate in Portland, Oregon. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn.