How To Get Your Focus Back. Your Time Too.

We are freelancers. We need to manage our time, our projects, to be our own chief financial officer, customer manager, the marketing guy and.. oh right… we also need to work for what we were hired for – to be creative.

On top of all that we’ve got to do every day, our technological body extensions – the smartphone and the personal computer, that are supposed to help us get on top of all of that sh*t – are just adding more noise. How are we supposed to concentrate? How can we make any progress with all those tasks?! Where did our focus go? We want our focus back!

For me, the noisiest part of the day is definitely the morning, when I wake up in bed. Dozens of tasks are pushing themselves to my mind – what have I forgot to do yesterday? what’s super important for today? tomorrow? the day after? next week? oh, and what about the taxes – have I paid them on time? and my landlord called, I gotta talk to him ASAP, and there’s this guy waiting for my email with a quote for this responsive website.. and so on and so forth.. my god…

So a few months ago I started researching for what can be done in order for me to start the day peacefully, with less noise. Moreover, I started being more aware of myself and my body, of when “the noise” really affects my productivity and my peace of mind, trying to look into what can be done about it. I then came across the notion of “Mindfulness” – being connected to your mind, noticing when I’m not breathing deep enough, when my back is in a wrong position against the chair, when I am upset, and so on. I learned to get my focus back. My time too.

Research shows that mindfulness can positively affect the way our brain works. The techniques you and I can practice to achieve mindfulness are super important and help to be more relaxed at work, improving our ability to be productive, especially in those times when technology is constantly interrupting us, asking us to be the multi-taskers that we never were.

Take Deep Breaths Every Morning - nuSchool

Dr. Shamash Alidina is a guru in this area. He lately came up with “Mindfulness for dummies” – I really recommend it for a first read about the subject – it can easily, and quite quickly, start changing your life for the better, with almost no effort. He’s explaining that mindfulness – one that is achievable via short daily exercises – can change the wiring in our brain, making it more flexible, with better concentration abilities, clearness and creativeness. All of those are super important for us as freelancers. In addition, it appears mindfulness makes us more sociable – so we could be more friendly and understanding to customers, clients, colleagues.

In the nuSchool we love being practical – so you are more than welcome to read more on mindfulness in that book or just Google it, but let’s walk the walk, and try a few of the exercises the Dr. offers to do in order to get some more mindfulness into our lives, and get our focus back:

  1. Take 10 deep and aware breaths every morning, even before you leave your bed
  2. Once a day, try listening to someone without judging what he says. Only deep listening, without interrupting him or her, and when your smartphone is muted.
  3. Drink your morning drink with high level of awareness. Note the steam, the temperature, the taste, the color. Be with the drink, not with the newspaper or your iPad, or other thoughts.
  4. Once an hour, take a few seconds break. Breathe deeply three times, whilst smiling to yourself. Remind yourself how awesome it is to be alive.
  5. Do only one thing at a time, and try to enjoy it as much as possible. Stop trying to be a multitasker. It’s not natural to our brain, hence not effective.

In the nuSchool – we the founders – are exercising mindfulness – each with his own method – so we can truly say this is working. If you want a super easy way to jumpstart – try Headspace – it’s an application that guides you about how to do a 10-minutes meditation, every day. It’s simple, relaxing, and I’m going to bed with it every day. I sleep so much better ever since.

Don’t lose this battle. Get your focus back. Your time too.

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