Are you using your attention with intention?

How many times have you woken up with full clarity that you HAD to get one action item completed today?  It must be done!

Then you get into the office to be welcomed by 3 urgent voicemails, 2 last minute meeting requests, a notice of Susie’s birthday lunch today and 100 new emails. By the time you put out all the fires, it is 4:15pm and you realize that you haven’t even begun to think about your “must do” action item which will take two hours.  Adding more stress to the day, you remember that you have to leave by 5pm to feed the kids and rush out the door to get to the PTA meeting.

Frustrated, stressed and resigned, you hop on Linked-In for a little distraction which you call “finding inspiration” and fully commit to yourself that you will get it done tomorrow.

How can we avoid this cycle of ignoring our top priorities for the sake of immediately addressing others’ priorities?  Here are 3 quick and easy steps to set-up your day for success and allow you to take control of your attention:

Step One: Focus Your Mind

One of the best gifts you can give yourself every day is a focused start.  Research has shown that as little as 10 – 20 minutes of meditation a day will significantly improve your attention span.

Not a morning person? (Roughly translated, “I am NOT getting up 10 minutes early in the morning to meditate!”)  No worries.  Dedicate 2 minutes to meditation in the morning.  When you add even 2 minutes of focus to your morning, you will make fewer mistakes, bring clarity to your needs, and train your brain to focus.

Two-minute Meditation:

Set your timer for two minutes (most phones have a timer in the clock settings).  Close your eyes.  Focus on your breath as you breathe in through your nose for four counts and out for three counts.

Inhale – One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four

Exhale – One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three

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This two minute breathing meditation will stimulate your nervous system, helping you feel animated, active and focused for the day.

Step Two: Fuel Your Body

The age-old adage “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is true.  A 2012 British study found that people who ate breakfast reported being able to deal with dilemmas 7% faster compared to the days they skipped breakfast.

Eating a healthy breakfast will give your mind and body the fuel it needs to avoid succumbing to the barrage of urgent but unimportant requests.  You will have the strength to focus on the important tasks and actions that will make a difference as you live your intentional life.

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Need some help planning quick, easy and healthy morning meals?  Check out Groovy Beats healthy breakfast recipes.

Step Three: Free Your Heart

En Vogue sang it in 2005: “Free your mind and the rest will follow”.

Have you ever been on your way to work obsessing about the stupid thing your co-worker did?  Or about the employee who consistently misses their deadlines?  Or about the boss that said something to you yesterday that you can’t quite figure out if there was a hidden meaning?

The stress and anxiety of conflict left untransformed can fester and grow, eventually creating more conflict that drains the internal resources you need to accomplish the tasks that are important to you.

To have a free mind you must free your heart by letting go of any stressors that are getting in your way.  That’s it!  Just let it go!  While it is easier said than done, try this process next time you have a stressor invade your brain.

Letting it go:

Imagine the stressor that continues to creep into your brain and that is disrupting your concentration.  Put a shape to it, which ever shape you choose.  Now imagine you taking that stressor shape and putting it into a helium balloon.  Look at the shape in the helium balloon.  Say goodbye and release it.  Pause for a second, and then feel the release of that stress.  Feel how much lighter you are.

Note:  Just as you have to rinse and repeat with your hair conditioner, you may have to rinse and repeat if that stressor creeps back in.  That is OK.  Repeat as many times as necessary until you never see that helium balloon again.

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Letting it go will free your mind so a successful day will follow.

If you are unwilling to let go of a stressor, consider this resistance might be an indication of an Untransformed Conflict.  If this is the case, address it.  Consider using one of these conflict transformation tools:  Assertive Conversation, Forgiving or Resolving Your Anger.

With the onslaught of modern technology, we are bombarded with a constant stream of demands for our attention.  We must ask ourselves every morning: “Am I going to allow all of the distractions and requests from others define how I live my life today?  Or am I going to live intentionally by focusing my attention on the priorities that are important for me?”

Choosing to use your attention with intention will support you creating a life worth living.  Practice these three simple steps to set you up for a successful day and an intentional life.