One thing I have always struggled with is the mental chatter of drunken monkeys in my mind. Not literally, but my mind has always been busy with the psychological chatter, that it has impacted on my ability to keep focus.
If you want to succeed in work and life, it is vital to maintain focus; therefore, for me, I needed to look at ways of taming my monkey mind. The first step for me was acknowledging that it was an issue and then knowing that it was possible to address it. I knew I could calm my monkey mind.
So what did I do?
Do one thing at a time.
From very early in my recruitment career, I have worked in highly pressurized environments. I would be managing a million and one things at the same time while dealing with multi-directional communication. I would have lots of little micro-projects all going at once. I would often get to the end of the day with lots of work done, but no tasks completed. My monkey mind wasn’t allowing me to concentrate on one task long enough to complete it and move on to the next.
So what was impacting my concentration? Technology, of course.
Too many tools, platforms, notifications, causing my mind to move from one distraction to another – messages coming in via phone, email, slack, instant messenger, notifications from whatever App pinging on the smartphone! All this was resulting in lots of drunken monkey chatter in my mind.
A simple fix. If you have a particular task, shut down all unnecessary tech and switch all notifications off. Don’t get distracted by the next Tinder date potential or the latest absurd rant Trump has put on to Twitter.
With no bings, beeps, or vibrations from notifications, you’ll have a laser focus, and you will get your shit done. Once complete, boot up what you need to and catch up on what you’ve missed. Then get your game face on for the next task.
You’re not a robot. Give yourself a break!
I was always the grafter at work. I suppose it is one of the main factors in my career progression; I worked damn hard. My downfall, though, was that I grafted a little too much, working through mid-morning breaks, not taking my lunch. All of a sudden, you are banging in 12 hour days fuelled by nothing more than coffee.
And what happened, no surprise, I became overwhelmed with a mind going a mile-a-minute, which was counterproductive. It might seem counterproductive, but you do need to rest, you need to eat, take breaks, and you need to move.
I was doing none of the above, not adequately anyway. All these breaks give your mind a rest, and in turn, will gift you with a renewed focus and increased productivity.
Talk to an actual person
In past years, I failed miserably on this. I was so busy focused on getting the job done, grafting away, not taking my breaks – I was missing out on valuable face time with team members. Going back to my last point, act like a human, you’re not a robot.
Speak to people. It is as simple as that. Doing this takes away the mind chatter.
That’s it. A few straightforward things that I implemented that help me manage my monkey mind. Simples. I hope you have found this useful and that it helps in improving your focus and productivity.
Author, Liam Clarke, Founder TechJobsNI.