Life is an incredible gift that has been given to us, and I am a firm believer that we must make the most use of it. I have recently asked myself the question whether or not I am really making the most out of it. After all, we have a finite number of days on this earth, and I wouldn’t want to waste a single one!
I found out that I still spend a lot of my time being absent minded. What I mean by this is that I was mentally in a different place than I should have been. A perfect example of this is that when I was studying for one of my exams, I spend nearly 30 minutes daydreaming about all the things I would do once the exam period was over.
It is all nice and comfortable to daydream about such nice topics, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. You would be much better off putting those 30 minutes into studying for your exams. These hours you spend being absent minded really add up when you take months and years into account.
Lets assume that you daydream about 2 hours in total per day, which I find a very reasonable assumption. Especially for students and those who hate our jobs. Over the course of 1 year, that means that you have spend (2 hours per day * 365 days in a year) 730 hours in a year being zoned out. That is over 30 days!
You basically spend an entire month not focussing on whatever it is that you should be doing. That is so much time, and will be the difference between you living a successful and fulfilled life and you struggling for the rest of it.
When you really think about it, you will realize that you need to change this mindset. Absent-mindedness is not a character trait of the most successful individuals! Luckily for us there are habits we can incorporate into our daily lives that will minimize this massive loss of time.
So let’s delve into 7 ways that you can use to limit and end absent-mindedness!
1. Get An Idea Of How Much Time You Are Absent Minded
A big part of being able to solve our absent mindedness is to not only know truly how absent we can be, but also to understand the reason for it. For me, I define being absent minded whenever I am supposed to be doing a task, but my brain is occupied with another activity. One of the classic examples is when I am sitting in a lecture for my university classes, and instead of paying attention to class, my brain is occupied with deciding what I should eat for dinner instead.
I am not focusing on what is important, rather my I spend all my energy on an activity that I can easily do later! One great way to measure how many times your mind wanders off, is to keep a journal for it. I put a tick every time I catch my mind wandering off into thought, and not focusing on what is important.
Also knowing why your mind goes off-topic is an important aspect of being able to decrease your absent mindedness. If you are absent minded during an extremely boring conversation with a group, it will likely not negatively affect your future in anyway. But if you find yourself not focusing during a lot of your classes, it might be a sign that you are uninterested and studying something not related to your passion.
2. Avoid Multitasking
While multitasking might be a very efficient way of getting a lot of work done quickly, it will also hamper your ability to focus on the important details. Being able to focus and concentrate with all your energy on one task is much more likely to motivate you to continue doing the work.
Many studies have shown that your brain can only really focus on one thing at a time. Not only that, multitasking can actually lower your IQ, since it causes you to slow down when the results of each individual test is analyzed.
If you know you need better focusing and concentration skills, then make sure you are not multitasking, and focus on one activity or task at a time!
3. Mindfulness Meditations
The whole idea behind mindfulness is to make you more aware of the present, and to keep your mind from wandering off into thought. And it is excellent tool at not only developing our focus skills, but also at letting us enjoy and be grateful for the moment that we are in. It can be practiced in 2 main ways.
A mindfulness meditation takes around 15 minutes, and it is best to do it either right after you wake up or before you go to bed. All you have to do is find a comfortable seating position (or lay down on your bed), and sense what you are feeling at that very moment. The technique I like to do is to focus on my breath.
Now sooner or later, your mind will begin to wander off into thought. You will realize that you are no longer thinking about your breath, and that is alright. The moment you realize this, you have to bring your focus back to your breathing. When you start these meditations, you will have to bring yourself back to the present many times over, and that is very normal.
Your focus is like a real muscle, the more you train it (bring you attention back to your breath), the stronger it will grow.
Mindfulness journaling is another great way to enjoy the moment. There are 2 ways I like to use mindfulness journaling. The first way is that I simply write down the emotions and feelings that I am experiencing at that exact moment. Not only does it increase my emotional awareness and emotional intelligence, it also allows me to focus deeply and reflect on my present state.
The second way is writing positive affirmations and gratitude statements. I then keep these in mind, and try to focus on them during the day when the going gets tough. It is a great way to decrease stress, and to focus on yourself in the moment.
Once again, I like to journal before bedtime, or after I wake up!
4. Make Sure You Sleep Plenty
Often times when we are feeling tired, we are unable to focus and pay attention. Most of us can probably remember early morning classes in high-school and/or university. We are tired, and it is just very hard to pay attention to the teacher going through their lecture. We automatically go into thought, whether that is what we are going to be doing for lunch or what dinner will consist of.
Getting the sleep that your body requires is an easy counter to being absent minded due to tiredness. Being well rested will definitely improve your focus. On top of that it has many other benefits, and is a standard in living a balanced life!
So lets discuss some methods you can use to sleep better!
Go to bed at consistent times
This is the one method that has worked the best for me personally, and it is simply going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday. It is a great addition to anyone’s routine!
See, your body works based on an internal clock called the circadian rhythm, which helps to regulate our brain and hormone levels. Having a consistent bedtime and wake-up schedule will allow your internal body clock to work most efficiently. This will help improve your sleep quality.
Note that the time you go to bed and wake up are irrelevant, as long as you try and sleep your 7-9 hours! If you want to stay up until 3 am and wake up at noon, then that is completely fine for your circadian rhythm. Just make sure you stick to those times every single day of the week!
Limit your afternoon naps
Power naps are a great source of energy. Sleeping for just 20 minutes after your lunch can help reduce the the afternoon productivity drops. That being said, sleeping for longer than that can actually cause problems for your night time sleep!
If you take a 2 hour afternoon nap, you will confuse and disorient your internal body clock, and hence your sleep quality will suffer as a result. So taking a small nap of 20 minutes or less is a great energy booster, but anymore than that will only leave you more tired the following day!
Create a sleeping routine
Routines are critical for anything we do in life, and for sleeping it is no exception. A good sleeping routine consists of several steps, lets go through them!
Avoid any electronic devices 1 hour before you sleep. The blue light hampers our ability to get a good nights rest, so it is recommend to limit your exposure to it before bedtime as much as possible. Instead of scrolling through social media, read a book, or do some mindfulness journaling and meditation!
You should also avoid any heavy meals 3 hours before bed. For drinks research has shown that caffeine stays in the blood for 7 hours, so make sure you stop drinking any caffeinated drinks 7 hours before bed. Similar to caffeine, alcohol should also be avoided if you want to maximize your sleeping efficiency!
5. Stop Daydreaming And Take Action
One of my personal struggles is that I tend to spend a lot of the my day dreaming about having already achieved my goal, while in reality I am still quite a way from reaching them. Daydreaming is often a very pleasant activity, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it is (for the most part) an extremely useless activity. You won’t lose fat by dreaming about you being skinny. You lose fat by taking action!
As I have already mentioned in the part about mindfulness meditation, whenever you notice yourself day dreaming, bring your mind back to the task at hand. Over time you will catch yourself daydreaming just seconds after it has started, and you’ll be able to focus on the important matters.
Life is short and extremely precious, so make sure you make the most of it! I hope the tips in this article were able to help you in some way. In case you are looking for more information related to personal development, make sure you check out my recent posts here, or the complete list of articles I have written here! I wish you all the best in life!