Focusing is being on target. Women who want to achieve their goals need to be focused and on target.
How on target are you? Is your life out of control?Maybe you have so much to do you can’t decide where to start. Maybe you begin a task and then abandon it. If any of this sounds familiar, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your focusing.
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I wish I could just focus!” you know it’s not so simple. To become a focusing super star, the first step is to understand what focusing really is. It’s hard to take control of something you don’t fully understand.
“Focusing” is actually a combination of five related skills: attention, concentration, persistence, comprehension and memory. So let’s dive in.
Attention is the ability to direct your mind to one thing in particular out of all the possible things it could be thinking about. You can think of paying attention as being similar to using a spotlight that makes something stand out to you and helps you ignore other things. When thoughts flutter through your mind and none of them stands out, that’s a sign you have difficulty paying attention.
Many times when we talk about “focusing” we are referring to the ability to concentrate. Concentration means giving your undivided attention to the thing you’ve decided to pay attention to. When you find your mind quickly flitting from thought to thought, this is a sign that your concentration skills may be weak.
Even if concentration is a problem for you, your attention skills might be just great! You may be able to notice something and give it your mental effort, but your ability to keep other thoughts from grabbing the spotlight could be a problem for you. You drift from one interesting idea to another without giving just one idea your deepest mental effort.
Can you stick with something until it’s done? Are you able to fight off boredom and fatigue to keep going until you’re finished? Perhaps you can stick with some tasks but not others. Maybe you can get fascinated for hours collecting recipes, yet find it nearly impossible to organize your closet. In order to have strong persistence, you must begin with strong concentration abilities. You must stick with the task you have chosen without becoming distracted.
Most people don’t realize that comprehension is actually a focusing skill. It combines attention, concentration and persistence to allow you find meaning in something. In order to comprehend anything, you’ll need to be able to notice it (pay attention) and you’ll need to be able to concentrate on it. In the case of comprehending complex, technical or detailed material, you’ll also need to persist long enough to put all the pieces together.
The height of focused behavior is memory, which is a strategic process of directing your attention toward something with the intention of remembering it in the future. Great memory is built upon attention, concentration and persistence as the building blocks of comprehension. Memory locks information into your mind so you can move to higher levels of control in the future.
Getting control of your focusing abilities
You may be strong in one or more of these focusing skills, but not in the others. In fact, your abilities may differ depending on the situation. Even if you are facing challenges in focusing, you can take back control!
You’ve just taken the first step – you now understand what “focusing” really is. The second step is to discover your personal focusing strengths and to learn how to use them to make big changes in your life. If you know your focusing strengths, you have tremendous power to achieve big goals that matter to you!
Part 2 of this article explains how to identify your focusing strengths and how to use them to make changes that matter in your life.
Dr. Kari Miller
ADHD coach and board certified educational therapist, Dr. Kari, helps women conquer their biggest ADHD challenges. She assists women in getting focused, organized, and motivated so they get unstuck, finish what they start, and accomplish more every day!
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