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Finding your focus: How to get back in the flow

It’s always good to take a step back and consider what you can do differently, when you find yourself in a rut with your motivation or focus.

If you imagine, what it’s like, when you lack focus or can’t concentrate (at work or in a life task). You probably conjure up an image like “ it’s like being in a fog”, or it’s like trudging through mud and getting no-where” or maybe you feel like you “hit a brick wall”?

Well, you certainly aren’t going to get far in any of those situations are you?

How lack of focus or de-motivation impacts our well-being; it can sometimes feel like a chicken and egg conundrum.

You might begin to feel frustrated at yourself, or even stressed at a looming deadline because your procrastination leads to unwanted feeling and negative self-talk.

Or maybe it’s your well-being that is the issue first, and anxiety or over-whelm are leading you to that foggy brain and lack of clear focus.

Some of the clues that you are lacking motivation might include:

· Getting distracted easily.

· Prioritising tasks that actually don’t need doing.

· Vacantly gazing.

· Clock watching.

· Feeling restless.

· Scrolling social media.

· Slower pace

· Taking longer to get ready

· Over-thinking

· Physical ailments like headaches or muscle tension that disrupt your ability to find your work flow.

We all get those moments where the pace slows and enthusiasm lulls. It is easy to forgive this when it occurs intermittently. But you may find yourself stagnated on that muddy path, or staring at the mortar, with no where to go and no inspiration to get you back on track.

So, I thought I would share a few of my own personal tips to help you through those dips in the road. These are tried and tested techniques I personally use for myself and with clients, to help address and resolve the matter of motivation:

Check your basic needs are met: This is always a place I start. Simple questions like am I warm enough/cool enough? Comfortable? Hungry? Thirsty? Is it too noisy to work? Tired? If these basic needs aren’t met then address them. These are obvious conditions that often get over-looked. Unknowingly a hindrance to getting stuff done.

Brain dump – if your head is full of too much stuff and the lull might be caused by a lack of clarity in your mind of what to do, when, where etc. Take five minutes (even away from your screen) and write down all the busy thoughts in your head, it doesn’t have to make sense. I sometimes just talk this aloud, to declutter it all ( I have even been known to make a song out of the mass of thoughts collected in my mind).

Deal with worries and conflict: Maybe life stuff is getting in the way of focusing “I let myself down when I snapped at my partner this morning” is the sort of belief that will hijack focus on a work-related task. Perhaps your money situation is causing you sleepless nights. If this is the case, be kind to yourself by seeking out help and setting actions that move you forward in resolution. Circumstances that impact our mental health like conflict, concerns and pressures will make keeping focused at work harder. As our mind really wants to find a resolution and will likely keep going back to the issues you are facing. Asking for flexi, speaking with a trusted manager or colleague and getting a plan of action together will mean help clear the clutter and get you back on track.

Minimise Distractions: When you feel demotivated its easy for the mind to wander and next thing you know you are scrolling your phone, or answering an email instead of doing the meaningful tasks in your day. Minimise distracting programs and tabs on your computer. Place your phone away from your desk. Where possible find a room that is comfortable and calm to work in.

What’s the story? What are you telling yourself about your current situation? Our thoughts and beliefs, about a situation, really can impact how effective we are at getting stuff done. You might try to ignore this inner narrative. In acknowledging it and making sense of it, you will find more clues to resolving the issue. The story might be as simple as “It’s not something that really interests me”. It might be something like “I am scared I am going to fail” or “I can do this with my eyes closed, so I’ll just do it later”. .

Finding your feeling formula: Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself “What am I feeling about this all right now?”. If you are feeling something that doesn’t align to the task at hand, that’s the first action you need to take. Our emotional state flows throughout our body creating an experience for us. If we are full up on an emotion that isn’t going to help us with the task at hand, it instantly becomes tougher. Just think of your personal life, it's hard to love if you are angry. Its difficult to feel confident when you feel embarrassed. If you imagine that you have an admin task to do, like a report or spreadsheet and your feeling frustrated. I think we can both agree that is far off ideal conditions to achieve the task. If you have to make a phone call but you are feeling anxious, that’s probably going to make that task even harder (and so our natural inclination may be to procrastinate). What can you do right now to create an inner state (feeling) that will enable you to do the task with ease. Maybe you nee to feel calm? Or maybe you need a dose of excitement? What can you do that creates this sense within? Do it first, then have a go at the task having improved your internal conditions to enable this. I call this process finding the feeling formula for your activity or task.

Discover the value: Lets be honest, some actions and tasks just really don’t float our boat. Whether it’s something that seems boring or you cannot see the added value in doing it. Ask yourself, what is the value of me doing this? If you find some resistance in your response, then get creative and innovate your value. It might be a task you hate, but how good will it feel when its done? Making this personal to yourself, helps to create a purposeful motivation to plough on through the task.

Check your understanding: The problem may not be lack of motivation. You might just not have the right information or resources to do the job at hand. What’s missing? Do you need to ask for more information, do you need to articulate your outcome and work back? Is there a piece of equipment or knowledge that you need to get the job done? Do you need to factor in some learning first, to make the task clearer and easier to do.

Use your time wisely: we all have different styles and preferences to working and getting a task done. Time is a big factor in this, whether you feel there is not enough time, or you feel there is too much and thus lack motivation to really get started. Techniques like the pomodoro or time banking are a great way to re-energise an activity and stay focused in a meaningful way. They encourage you to do short and engaging stints on a piece of work. This might mean you break a big task down into smaller sections and see each element as it’s own activity, or it might mean that you set aside bigger chunks of protected time to work on a piece.

Reset: Taking a short break is really under- estimated. Make sure it is time bound and that you really allow yourself to switch off, ensure you break with purpose. Going outside for a short while is great as it really enables the brain to switch off and reset ( just read about attention restoration theory if you want more proof). I always advise stepping away from screen scrolling on your phone. Do something that includes movement and uses different senses like listening to music, chatting to someone on the phone (whom doesn’t demand more energy from you) even meditate or power nap.

Have a go at these approaches and see how they work for you?

I’d love to hear your comments on this! Share here or on our social media pages.

If you are looking for more ways to respond to those demotivated and lack of mojo moments. Coaching can provide you with a personalised and engaging approach. Helping you understand and implement wider strategies that get you back into action. Feeling more productive and purposeful. Book in your Free discovery call with JK to find out how therapeutic coaching can change the way you think, feel and live life for the better.

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