December 28 – Achieve
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
(Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)
I want to learn how to concentrate and focus better
With so many distractions around, and juggling several major tasks at the same time (series of experiments, writing papers, preparing conferences, supervising students, random people showing up at my door), I find it very hard to actually turn away from the world and concentrate on one single task.
Even on moments when I am with my office door closed, and no appointments coming up within the next few hours, I still feel my thoughts going all over the place. I am doing one task, the another task comes into my mind, then I open a folder on my computer to do something, think of something else and note it down, and by the time I turn back to my screen I've forgotten why I actually opened that folder.
I would really love to learn how to silence all the background noise in my head (all advice is greatly appreciated) and work straight on with a single task. It is possible, sometimes I feel I am totally "in" my task and don't notice my surroundings and random thoughts. But those moments are very rare.
I imagine that by achieving this goal, I will feel calm, less stressed and in control. I hopefully will make better progress, and as a result, I will feel satisfied with my efforts.
Ten things to do and thoughts to think to feel calm are the following.
One of my new year's resolutions (which I am still making, and for which I will make a certain set of goals) is to pick up meditation again. Training my mind to focus will help me concentrate on my work more as well, I hope.
2. Practice mindfulness
In the PhD training course which I am taking, we practice mindfulness exercises every meeting. It has a great effect on me. Still, I feel the need to learn more about it, actually get a book to work with. I'll combine this with my meditation efforts.
3. Do not act out of fear
Too often I feel I am being held back by the fear of "doing something wrong" or "being seen as stupid" or "being considered impolite" or "being too demanding". As a result, I end up sitting in my office, thinking about all random possible other solutions, and feeling stressed out. Once I start to retrace why I am not just getting up from my chair, knock the right door and get on with it, I can trace the fear hidden behind my actions.
4. Sleep, exercise and eat healthy food
Mens sana in corpore sano. I can't concentrate and feel all calm and focused when I am feeling tired due to a lack of sleep, an overdose of sugar or a lack of exercise. I too often cut back on all these though, because I try to fit too many activities into one day.
Knowing what is the most important thing to be working on at a certain time, and more precisely: knowing what is my most important thing to be finished at a given day, makes me feel more calm. I know what is most important, and which other tasks need to be sent to the background.
6. Eliminate distractions
I find it still very hard to concentrate on something, while I am expecting a reply e-mail or when all kinds of alerts start popping up onto my computer screen. In the bast case, I just can switch off my computer screen and work with pen and paper on my desk. But the amount of time I can do this before I return to my screen to quickly check when it will rain or whether my e-mail was replied, is deplorably short.
7. Let go of perfectionism
It takes me so much energy in trying to be perfect and have every detail completely finished and polished before I show it to someone else. I will feel much calmer if some day I can let go of this.
8. Spend time on reflecting about goals
Knowing how I am progressing and seeing the little successes along the way, while keeping in mind the bigger picture, will help me to feel more calm. With a clear planning and list of goals, I can see how much I have already done and what is still left to be done. It gives me a less biased overview of my real progress.
9. Celebrate successes
I need to stop and celebrate whenever I reach a milestone. Too often I just think "Alright, this is done, let's rush on to the next task", while it would give me some peace of mind to realize that I've actually completed an important step forward.
10. Stop trying to please everyone
Hard one, but a lot of what I have going on in my head are small tasks I need to do to help someone else out. Too often, I also worry what others think of me, which takes a lot of my energy. I actually only want to care about what my loved ones think of me, and how I can nourish these relations.