Your attention is a limited resource and yet everybody is vying for it. Learn how to mindfully take control of where you put yours.
Attention is a rich, yet limited resource. We need to supervise and allocate it wisely. If we don’t, then worry, apps and online platforms will happily use up most of our daily, as well as ongoing, supply. Learning how to take charge of your attention is, therefore, a vital and valuable skill – especially during this time.
So, how do you take charge of your attention? Here are a few suggestions. Start with the one that feels most manageable and doable for you. And, if none of them seem doable, pick one that you can break down into smaller steps and start with just the first step. You can do it!
- At the start of your day take some time to think about how you want to allocate your attention during the day. You can also do this the night before if that works better. NOTE: this is subtly, yet importantly, different than thinking about what you want to get done i.e. I want to keep my attention on the needs of my children, what is happening outside and how my body is feeling versus I need to help Jack with his schoolwork, sweep the front porch and get some exercise. Try it and be curious to see if you note the difference.
- Try to make conscious, deliberate decisions about the focus of your attention throughout the day that are in line with your intentions for the day. Make a regular habit of asking yourself the question – “Is this what I really want to pay attention to right now?” If the answer is no, then practice shifting your attention to something else. Start by shifting attention to something neutral, rather than something you are avoiding. For ex. “I don’t want to pay attention to my worried thinking about the Corona Virus. I’m going to look outside and get really curious about which trees are starting to bud. Then I’ll make a decision about what I want to pay attention to next.”
- Wonder, instead of worry, about how you supervise your attention. What works, what doesn’t? Does a planner work to keep you on track? If so, what kind? Are reminder alarms effective? When do they work or not work? Does working in the presence of somebody else help? How about telling someone else what you plan to do to make yourself accountable? Bringing curiosity, creativity and compassion to your thoughts about how you supervise and allocate your attention will make it easier to create change.
- Practice Mindfulness. The core skill of mindfulness is supervision and allocation of attention.
- Allocate some of your attention every day to the messages your body is sending you. Listen and use the information to guide your decision making about how to use your attention.
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