I have a wandering mind full of gypsy thoughts. They just meander, making random connections, pulling my attention away from the task at hand. I believe my bouncing thoughts are often what spark my creativity, so I rarely become frustrated with myself when I can’t focus. Instead, I have an arsenal of refocusing techniques that I use to pull my attention back to the present so that I can be productive.
You’ll notice that many of my refocusing techniques are sensory related; I am an HSP and very sensory sensitive (meaning that I am acutely aware–and often distracted–by things like lights, smells, textures, etc.), so many times the best way for me to regain my focus is to change the way I am experiencing my environment.
1 | Take Charley On a Walk
This is one of my favorite ways to refocus because it gets me outside, is exercise, and gives me an excuse to spend time with my favorite little bear. (I literally just took a walk before I sat down to write this post!) Usually around 30 minutes, my walks are simple, around-the-block strolls. The fresh air and sun (or wind, or whatever) always helps my mind return to a neutral and calm state. Sometimes, if I’m craving a bit of mental stimulation, I’ll listen to a podcast in my headphones as I walk. But today (like many days), I was looking to clear my mind, so my walk was silent, save the all-too-frequent “This way, Charley!” or “Come on, littles!”
2 | Take a Hot Shower or Bath
I have the luxury of working from home, and I definitely relish in its benefits. One of which is, of course, that I can bathe in the comfort of my own bathroom at any time of day. Sometimes, especially in the late afternoon, when I need a moment to refocus so that I can wrap up my blogging for the day and get dinner started, I’ll jump in the shower for a few minutes, and turn the water as hot as I can stand it. I’ll quickly wash my hair and body, but then, I like to stand with my shoulders under the stream of water as I breathe in the steam and quiet my mind. As far as baths are concerned, I typically take them in the morning on days when I need a bit of extra time to wake up and get moving.
3 | Drink a Cup of Hot or Cold
Sometimes, in the middle of writing a blog post (or working on another project), I’ll suddenly lose all focus, almost like someone came right into my home and stole it from me! Instead of giving up, I can usually regain my own attention by drinking something that’s very hot or very cold. When I feel my mind wandering, I’ll head into the kitchen and brew a pot of coffee, or mix up a cup of hot chocolate, or steep a cup of tea–or pour a cold drink over lots of ice. Something about the extreme temperatures helps resharpen my mind and allows me to get back on task.
4 | Do a Chore
I often break from working at the computer to unload and reload the dishwasher, fold a load of laundry, or wipe down the bathroom. The act of getting up, standing, and using my hands to do a chore is a way that I can spark self-motivation. I think it’s the satisfaction of fully completing a task and checking it off of my mental to-do list that reminds me that I can complete other tasks, too.
5 | Clean Workspace
I keep a very clean desk. The following items, and nothing else, sit on it: a picture frame, my computer, a lamp, and a coaster. It doesn’t have a drawer or shelves, there is no pen holder or notepad or little bowl of paper clips. Just the essentials for my day to day work. (I do bring a notepad and pen to my desk sometimes, but they usually get put away at the end of the day.) That being said, sometimes a few pieces of mail will pile up, or there will be a sticky spot on the desk where a drop of iced tea spilled. If I’m sitting down to write but can’t get words on the page, I’ll clear any unwanted items off of my desk, wipe it down, and start over. Somehow reseting my workspace resets my headspace as well.
6 | Make a Phone Call
Many times when I cannot focus, it’s because I really don’t want to focus on what I’m working on. Sometimes, the best thing I can do is something that brings me joy instead. So, in those I-know-I-should-be-working-on-this-but-I-don’t-want-to-so-I-can’t-focus moments, I’ll pick up my phone and call (or text) a friend or Riley. Talking to the people I love helps me to put my mind on pause, and by the time I hang up (or the text conversation is over), I’m usually ready to tackle whatever I’m working on.
7 | Open/Close The Blinds
I try to remember to open the blinds after breakfast everyday, but sometimes I forget. (Or, I don’t forget, but I choose not to because I don’t feel like hearing Charley bark at the other dogs outside in the morning!) If I’m feeling sleepy and lethargic, sometimes all it takes is opening up the blinds and enjoying the light to get back on track. Similarly, in the evening (and especially now that it is getting dark early), I’ll often get up and close the blinds so that I don’t feel like neighbors are looking in our home…or because I’m tired of hearing Charley barking at people walking by with their dogs! Either way, a change in the lighting can really help reenergize and refocus my attention.
8 | Light a Candle
I love, love, love (love, love, love) candles. In fact, I always have several placed throughout our home as well as several back-ups under the kitchen sink. Many mornings, I’ll light a few candles before breakfast and leave them burning all day long (or turn on our tart warmers), and I won’t blow them out until bedtime that evening. Clearly, if I leave the house to run an errand, I always blow them out! But in the case that I can’t find my focus, sometimes lighting a candle and putting it on my desk, or in whatever room I’m trying to work in, can really help. The scent, the flicker of the flame, the slight heat the candle puts off–all things that change my environment just enough to wake me up and get me back on task.
9 | Eat a Snack
I’m not the kind of person who is super distracted by hunger. Like, I can sit down and work for hours even if I feel a little hungry since I know that I’ll eat once I’m finished. However, sometimes I’m really hungry (or, let’s be real, I just really want to eat), and in those moments, I head into the kitchen and prepare a snack. I like snacks like carrots or Goldfish that are easy to eat and not messy. #ilikegoldfishbetterthancarrots #keepinitreal
10 | Watch a YouTube Video or TV Show
For me, watching TV is the ultimate mind-numbing experience. So when I’m really stressed or my mind feels cluttered, sometimes the best way I can refocus is to turn on a YouTube video or TV show and let my thoughts freeze for a few minutes. Once I feel adequately chilled-out, I’ll turn it off, and get back to work. Many times, it’s helpful for me to watch YouTube videos featuring other bloggers (or vloggers, video bloggers), for inspiration and motivation.
11 | Adjust The Room Temperature
I am always cold–I wear jeans all Summer long (and I live in Texas), and pack on layer upon layer in the Winter. I also turn the A/C off during the day in the warm months and crank the heat in the cool months. Though these temperatures keep me comfortable, an almost-always warm environment can make me really sleepy and sluggish sometimes. I frequently catch myself feeling tired only to realize that oh! it’s 80 degrees in here. Then, I’ll turn the air on (or the heat off), and regain my focus, even if I am a little chilly.
12 | Run An Errand
We all need to get out of the house sometimes, don’t we? If I’m feeling a little stir crazy, or I can’t focus, many times I’ll gather my belongings, crate Charley, and head to the grocery store, post office, or Target. We always seem to need something–be it milk, stamps, bread, toothpaste, etc.–so I use this time to check a few items off of my list as well as refocus for the things I’m struggling to get done at home. As I drive to and from my errand, I make it a point to listen to music I love, or a podcast I’m interested in, or simply roll down the windows and enjoy the air in my face. By the time I’m back home, I almost always feel reenergized and refocused.
13 | Pray
I wish I went to God first more often when I can’t focus, but the reality is that I usually only bow my head after I’ve tried everything on this list and still can’t focus. And when I finally pray and ask for energy and focus, sometimes I’ll just receive it on the spot. Other times, though, I’ll hear Him say something like go to bed Blair, you need to sleep. That’s when I am reminded of the importance of being gentle with myself, of giving myself grace. So, I go get some shut eye, and walk up refreshed and ready to be productive.
//Those are some of the ways that I refocus myself during the day! What refocusing techniques do you use?