As we continue to teach (and live) the 7 Daily Disciplines to Move from Frustrated to Focused, it is becoming clearer every day that exercise has a profound impact on our productivity and ability to focus.
The connection between the mind and body has been proven time and time again. If you’re having trouble with focus, there are several physical exercises you can do that will help you to have more concentration.
Exercises that get your blood flowing quickly are the best for a quick pick-me-up. These help blood flow to your brain increase and allow you to have the ability to focus more easily. Exercises such as jumping rope, running, and performing squats can help to give you this quick burst of brain power.
And the good news is that a quick exercise routine can give you as much as three hours of improved focus afterwards. If you begin your day with exercise, you’ll have more focus in those early hours of work. A quick routine midday can help you beat the afternoon blahs.
Demetrius Farrior, founder of DFIT Institute for Transformation, recommends working out in the morning if at all possible. One reason is that you are less likely to cancel due to interruptions or distractions, therefore, you're more likely to stay consistent with your routine (#3 of the 7 Daily Disciplines). He says you do NOT need to spend hours in the gym...15-30 minutes of consistent exercise is enough to reap plenty of benefits, including an improved ability to focus.
Some specific, quick, pick-me-up exercises are important when it comes to dealing with a single incidence of trouble focusing, but you also want to think about long-term effectiveness. Some people have difficulty focusing as a result of depression.
You may actually be experiencing depression and not even know it. Creating a habit of exercising at least three times a week can actually improve your mood and help ward off depression that keeps you from being able to concentrate on tasks.
The best exercises tend to be those you enjoy and will commit to doing over a long period of time. This could include lifting weights (highly recommended), taking a walk, cycling, jogging, rollerblading, playing tennis or any other activity that helps increase your heart rate a few times a week. Barbara Hemphill often says the question isn't 'what should you do?'...it's 'what will you do?' So choose something you can be consistent with for years to come. And if you need accountability (we ALL do), we highly recommend that you take Demetrius Farrior's Transformation Readiness Assessment.
Exercising regularly also helps your body to manage the effects of stress. Stress can often be responsible for problems with focusing. By developing an exercise routine, you can keep stress from paralyzing you and causing you to lose focus on your end goals.
You may wonder how exercise can actually improve your focus. One of the ways it helps is by increasing the endorphins in your brain. These are chemicals that help you to feel good and actually improve your brain’s ability to function at its peak performance.
Exercise also helps you to let go of some of the distracting thoughts that are preventing you from focusing. Finally, exercise helps to improve your self-confidence and reduces physical anxiety. It also helps you to sleep better. All of these things add up to better focus as you carry out daily tasks.
If you’re struggling to stay focused throughout your day, give exercise a try. You don’t have to spend hours and hours each day to get the effects. Try taking a 30 minute walk a few times a week and you’ll begin to see your focus improve.
A Certified Productive Environment Specialist™ (CPES) can help you organize your time, space and information so you can focus, and ultimately accomplish your work and enjoy your life. Click the blue link below to complete our Productive Environment Scorecard™ so we can connect you with a Specialist for a complimentary consultation! :)
If you think you'd enjoy a career teaching others how to become systemized, organized and focused, click the red link below to find out how to become a Certified Productive Environment Specialist™.
Up next...The Power of Focus #4: Simple Tricks to Improve Your Focus
Andrea Anderson is President of Productive Environment Institute (PEI), a training institute for Business Organizers & Productivity Consultants around the world.