Two recent vacations left me thinking about the ways in which coaching can help people focus on the most important things. On both trips, we were fortunate to have great tour guides.
Our tour guides asked us lots of questions to get us engaged in the learning process. Similarly, effective coaches ask questions to open up a conversation and assess what their clients already know. They also ask powerful questions to get clients to dig deep and focus on things they may never have considered.
On the contrary, I’ve occasionally had a tour guide whose main intent seemed to be to impress us with his or her knowledge and expertise. These guides didn’t stop to ask questions or find out if we were really paying attention. They did almost all the talking and sometimes got a bit irritated if we asked questions or made comments.
Both tour guides and coaches can help us see or hear things that we would not notice on our own. This is a key outcome because we can only pay attention to things that we actually NOTICE!
Tools That Improve Focus
(1) Questions Help You Focus
In our hometown (Richmond, Virginia), there are many “Nature Tours” in nearby parks. While strolling through a neighborhood park recently, I overheard the arborist/tour guide engaging the tour participants.
The guide asked the group, “How many of you know what kind of tree this is?” When one person answered correctly, the guide asked, “What was it about the tree that told you that it was a red maple tree?” This led to discussions about unique features regarding the tree’s bark, leaf structure, size, etc.
Of course, this kind of dialogue increased the probability that those on the tour will recognize a red maple tree after the tour is over. Most importantly, the tour guide got tour participants to focus on information that most participants did not know.
(2) ADHD Coaches Help You Focus
As coaches who specialize in coaching adults with ADHD, we tailor a lot of our questions to help clients focus on the things that are typically challenging to people with ADHD:
- How aware clients are about “where their time goes” on a typical day
- What clients already know about distractions that shift their focus in unproductive ways
- How much each client tends to notice and focus on important details at school, work, or home
- What strategies clients already use to get back on track when they are distracted
- What new strategies the client is willing to try to stay on track with their goals
Sometimes these kinds of questions can seem invasive!! For coaching to be successful, the client needs to trust that the coach is asking questions that will help the client move the action forward! Similarly, the coach needs to be sensitive enough to know if the client is really ready to deepen their focus.
(3) Mindfulness Helps You Focus
Guided meditation is a mindfulness practice that can help you “reboot” your focus by pulling you away from things that threaten your progress on important tasks and goals. Guided meditation can help you:
- Focus on your breathing and posture.
- Reduce stress, anxiety or fatigue.
- Focus on what is being said “in the moment” (mindfulness).
- Choose one thought (or action) over another.
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another – Willliam James (philosopher/psychologist)
In recent years, many of our ADHD clients have made significant improvements in their focus through daily meditation and other forms of mindfulness. To learn more about how mindfulness helps people with ADHD, check out “The ADHD Mindfulness Craze: It All Started with One Little Study,” an article written by our ADHD coach colleague, Casey Dixon.
(4) Structure Helps You Focus
While mindfulness is a great way to improve focus, there is no substitute for creating a structure that helps you plan and execute a productive daily routine.
Using a calendar and a journal each day is one of the most effective tools for managing time. It’s simple, but it does require discipline and structure. Here are the steps to take:
- Get clear about your priorities and priority activities. Write them down.
- Set up an electronic calendar that is easy to adjust and that can send scheduled reminders to your phone and/or computer.
- Write down a list of all the activities you already do (or want to do) that are on a fixed schedule: (a) Eliminate those activities that are not on your priority activities list; (b) Enter your fixed priority activities on your calendar; (c) Evaluate your schedule. If it’s too full, make adjustments.
- Write down a list of activities that you already do (or want to do) that can be done on a flexible schedule. Repeat the same 3 steps as you did for fixed schedule activities.
- Update and make adjustments to your calendar at the end of each day so that it becomes a journal.
- Look at your calendar first thing each morning to remind you of your planned daily activities.
- Consider sharing your calendar/journal with your spouse, a friend, a coach, or someone else who cares about you and will help you hold yourself accountable to how you manage your time.
(5) Focus on One Thing a Day
If you’re not quite ready for coaching, mindfulness, or using a calendar/journal to help you focus, try this simple strategy: Focus on One Thing A Day! Yes, that’s it!
What is it that you MOST want to do today? Pay monthly bills? Become a great speaker? Reach out to repair a broken relationship?
I know – None of us can really focus on doing just ONE thing per day. But all of us can do one TOP thing on Today’s To Do List! Some of these things (e.g., paying monthly bills) can be done quickly, while other things (e.g., becoming a great speaker) may need to be the TOP focus for many, many days.
As you develop the “Focus on One Thing a Day” habit, you will realize that you can add other action steps throughout the day and achieve huge success over time!
Let Us Help You Improve Your Focus!
If you get frustrated with your inability to stay focused on what you intend to accomplish, perhaps it’s time to consider coaching. To learn more about how coaching works and for a free 30-minute consultation, please Contact Us today!