Journal for Focus

How A Journaling Practice Improves Your Focus & Productivity

So many people think that yoga is solely a physical practice.  That to practice yoga, you move the body, sweat and stretch, and then lay on the floor.  But there is so much more than that. Yoga is a complete system that connects body to mind to soul in order to be the best version of yourself.  This includes dealing with distractions and working to improve focus. And there are more tools to achieve this than a physical practice.

In my own office, which is just down the hall from my yoga studio, I have to combat distractions.

My beautiful cat, who at the time of writing this is only 10 months old, is rambunctious, a little destructive, and super adorable and loveable.  Also, we live in a small town which means I order a lot of supplies, clothing, and even food online. The deliveries are random, so they show up at all times of the day.  I also sometimes try to balance online work and house work, so I’ll go start a load of laundry during one of my Pomodoro breaks (more on that here). Or I’ll run my Roomba, which will then occasionally get stuck and I have to go attend to it.  This is beyond the typical distractions of phone calls, texts, messages, and email. So I get it. That, especially if you work at home, you have trouble staying focused on the task at hand.

Even if you have tools in place to help...

Like I mentioned above, there are focusing and time management tools and apps that can help, like the Pomodoro Technique.  But they don’t always work 100% of the time. And my cat doesn’t understand “Cat, I’m busy right now. I will play with you in 20 minutes when I have a break.”  And signing for a package won’t wait for the next break either. Sometimes you just have to deal with the distraction right then.

It can take, on average, about 23 minutes to recover focus after a distraction.

That’s crazy!  If you have 3 distractions in a day, you lose over an hour!!!  Beyond the loss of time, we lose a sense of peace, our calm, and our feeling of productivity and purpose.

Our wellness is also negatively affected by distractions during work because our stress level goes up.  We sacrifice the time we need to care for ourselves to make up for the lost work. Which means we hold tension for longer, causing more negative effects such as anxiety.

How journaling helps:

But when we have a regular journaling practice, we can better manage our time and also return to a project more quickly after being momentarily distracted.  What I’m talking about here is more than just making a task list. It’s the process of drilling down to the essence of what you really need to get done to complete a project or feel successful for that day.  

I follow an amazing woman, Tiffany Julie, and she uses these questions every day to slingshot her day into a more productive, focused, and positive experience.  Give them a try yourself to minimize the negative effects of distractions and keep you focused on your best work.

Journal Prompts to get focus back:

What is the #1 thing I need to do today to get the furthest?

What obstacles might get in my way? How do I overcome them?

How will I reward myself for getting this #1 thing done?

My fav time to do this:

Tiffany recommends you do your journaling first thing in your work day.  Take a few moments to breath and get quiet in your mind, then ask these questions, writing down whatever comes to you.  Don’t filter, don’t edit. Just write. Give yourself a time limit, say 3 minutes per question, is a good start. I do this while I drink my coffee, before I teach my first class.  That way, I can go right into the work I need to do for my clients and students without having to refind my focus.

My fav supplies:

If you have followed me for any length of time, you will know that I also utilize the bullet journal method, so I use a dot grid journal to keep track of my time, my goals, my habits, and more.  While I no longer use a daily layout, I have space in my weekly spread to write in each day 3 big tasks that MUST be completed. I try to keep them small enough to be able to complete in a reasonable amount of time.  More like “Write one blog post” instead of “write all blog posts for 2019.” I actually have a Leuchtturm1917 that my husband bought for me for christmas which I use as my main bullet journal(bujo, for short). With that I use Tul and Pilot G2 pens in various colors, as well as some crayola markers for some thicker fun elements.  This isn’t a review of these items, but I do use them daily and am happy with them. I also have a cheap spiral bound notebook in which to journal dump. When I need to write out thoughts and ideas, that’s where it goes. That’s where I do these questions specifically, then transfer the 3 big things to my bujo.

weekly spread bujo

I also use Trello to organize my tasks.  I have a weekly to do list that allows me to move tasks from a monthly master list to a particular day. And again, I try to keep it reasonable.  In my opinion, it’s better to make consistent small steps towards a goal than to burn out trying to accomplish one huge thing in a single go. So after I write my 3 big tasks in my bujo, I move them from the master list to the daily list for “today.”

That’s it from me today.

If you want more journal prompts, yoga poses, tips, and more, sign up for my weekly email, Sunday Salutations, and I’ll bring exclusive yoga guidance to your inbox once a week.

Thanks for reading!!  And as always, Namaste.

Journal for Focus

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