As we emerge from this unusual year and return to a sense of normalcy, the myriad challenges of balancing work or studies with outside responsibilities and passions are more difficult than ever before. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite tips for getting your head back in the game.
1. Ignore What You Can’t Control
For many of us, the lack of focus we’ve experienced over the past year results from the dizzying combination of physical, mental and emotional factors -- interruptions, multitasking, isolation, fear and the loss of our long-held routines. Add to those an unprecedented global pandemic, political and economic uncertainty, and the world quickly becomes overwhelming.
With these extraordinary conditions, it’s no surprise many people feel they’re unable to focus effectively.
Contemplating countless external issues and fears while trying to complete an immediate task is nearly impossible. Staying focused and working effectively requires acknowledging and living with issues outside of your control. How do you do that when those issues are top of your mind every day?
Indifference. Work to become indifferent to things outside of your control. Of course, the latest political scandal, virus variants and economic catastrophe are all over the news, but you can't do two things at once, at least not well. If you choose to ignore, even just temporarily, the major concerns outside of your immediate task, it becomes easier to focus your attention in front of you.
Instead, create a time and space for attention to those matters, such as an hour of TV or news scrolling on the weekend to catch up.
When stress and anxiety about external factors become a burden, consider a natural supplement like dark vegan chocolate to unwind such as The Functional Chocolate Company’s Carefree Chocolate, a vegan, fair trade dark chocolate bar formulated with herbs, botanicals and clinically researched and patented Pharma Gaba®, & Suntheanine® L-Theanine -- shown to promote an alert state of relaxation without drowsiness.
2. Prioritize What You Can Control
Tackle One Thing at a Time
While indifference filters out the countless concerns of the modern world, prioritization (and deprioritization) are the keys to being productive for tasks you can control and need to complete.
There are only so many hours in a day, so consider your priorities on an ongoing basis. Ensure that the top priority from yesterday, last week or last month is still the best place to focus your limited energy. And likewise, consider what tasks may be deprioritized, to a later date, or if appropriate, to be taken off your list completely.
Regularly reassessing what’s important is an essential skill these days. Consider checking in with colleagues or your boss. Outside input helps with prioritizing a never ending list of tasks.
Focusing on one thing at a time, and only so many things in a day, allows you to be more effective with the things that are important.
3 . Create Boundaries & Habits
Working from home has countless pros and cons that could be debated until the end of time. For better or for worse, it is what many of us are doing for the foreseeable future.
Establish a Work Space
Not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated, quiet home office. However, it is essential to create a space where you can block out distractions. For some, that means accessing a co-working space. For others, it’s closing off a corner of a bedroom, kitchen or basement. Whatever you can do to define a work space supports focus and productivity. Likewise, leaving that space when the work day is done creates a sense of separation in your day between ‘work time’ and ‘personal time’, enabling you to mentally and emotionally recharge.
Establish a Schedule
Setting boundaries with your schedule helps with this separation of work and personal life. Not checking your phone or answering emails after or before a certain time is a great step, if possible.
Take Time Off
Further, take advantage of whatever time off, holidays and other flex time you have. Create that separation, so when you are in the game, you keep your head there, and when you’re not, you disconnect and reset.
Healthy Sleep is Essential
Lastly, ensure you get enough sleep. Countless articles and studies found that the past year of increased stress and disruption impacted sleep cycles for many.
Inadequate sleep has significant consequences, affecting concentration, mood, cognition and overall health.
If you have trouble sleeping, consider a natural vegan chocolate supplement like The Functional Chocolate Company’s Sleepy Chocolate which combines powerful botanicals including chamomile, valerian, lavender, passion flower and lemon balm with the clinically researched benefits of PharmaGaba®, magnesium and melatonin to help you fall asleep faster and more soundly.
More Than Just Physical Benefits
When we think about exercise, we immediately think of the obvious physical benefits - improved endurance, muscle tone, weight loss, etc. However, research suggests exercise contributes numerous benefits to the way we think and work. Besides the increased energy that comes from regular exercise, studies suggest exercise provides immediate benefits to cognition and attitude in people of all ages.
In addition to reports of improved concentration, mental stamina, memory, creativity and reduced stress, exercise also enhances mood, which has significant implications for work and productivity.
While many of us previously developed exercise habits outside the home, at the gym, etc., the disruption of the past year eliminated many of those opportunities. A brief stretching session, online workout or neighborhood walk offers significant benefits.
5. Treat Yourself with Diet, Supplements & Chocolate
Enjoy a Regular Balanced Diet
Nutrition is a key element of overall health. Many workers struggling with stress and a sense of being overloaded miss meals or resort to unhealthy snacks.
Supplements & Dark Chocolate Can Help
In addition to ensuring a regular, balanced diet, supplements are a great option to increase cognitive function, productivity and focus. There are many studies that show the benefits of chocolate for focus, sleep, exercise and diet.
Botanicals like rhodiola, ginkgo biloba, bacopa and cacao have been studied for decades for their potential benefits on mental performance, memory, focus, and attention span.
The Functional Chocolate Company’s Brainy Chocolate combines the benefits of a stack of trusted nutraceutical ingredients, vitamins, minerals and amino acids with the health and nutrition benefits of dark chocolate, offering one of the easiest ways to get your head back in the game, while also treating yourself to an indulgent reward for all of the work you just did, or are about to do!