You’re doing a high-stakes presentation and need to be articulate and compelling. In a perfect world, you’d have a laser-like focus on the task at hand. In the real world, you’re working hard to hold other thoughts at bay.
There’s the dismal sales report to explain to your boss. A talented-but-green direct report needs more of your time. You’ve been on the road so long that you are more familiar with the airport gate agents that with your family. These topics and more keep drifting to mind – taking up valuable neurological space that you need to communicate your message well.
How do you manage your crowded brain and maintain focus?
Monitor your mind’s Task Manager. If you use a PC, you’re probably familiar with the Windows Task Manager. It’s the handy tool you access when you simultaneously hit Ctrl+Alt+Del. It shows the processes and applications running and how much capacity they’re using. When you need to concentrate, make a quick list of issues that intrude. Then you can figure out how to clear out the thoughts that will interfere with achieving your objective.
Put aside what you can’t do anything about. The first group of mental intrusions to cast aside are the things you can’t impact. These are the issues that you can’t control, impact or manage for. These might include your boss’s leadership style, an past event or the stock market. Visualize a bank vault. Mentally lock those topics in the vault.
Take quick action to get things off your plate. Email your assistant to schedule meetings with the boss and direct report. Call home. Make a to-do list. Do something to quickly get momentum on your nagging issues. Then set them aside.
Eliminate interruptions. Don’t allow incoming texts, emails or calls to derail your focus and add to your mental clutter. Although you may not be familiar with it, all electronic devices have an OFF setting.
To do your best work, you must give yourself permission to be fully present in the current moment. There’s an old saying: If you chase two rabbits, both will escape. How many mental rabbits are you chasing right now?
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