There are moments in life when focus seems impossible. Life seems filled with fog and murkiness. During January we’ve experienced a lot of foggy mornings due to the sling-shot up and down temps the country’s been experiencing. It’s been a stunning metaphor for my mental state.
Finally, as the month comes to a close, I feel I’m emerging from the fog—personally and as far as my writing goes. When your writing (or life) gets hazed and dazed, there are some steps you can take to improve visibility. These helped me lift the mental fog:
- Limit multi-tasking. It’s easier to focus when you’re not splitting your attention between 2 or more things at once.
- Take frequent breaks. This helps limits distractions and the feeling you must multi-task. Write for 20 minutes then set a timer and answer email or browse social media for 10 minutes.
- Use a To-Do list. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you mark things off completed items. When I feel foggy, I don’t prioritize. I just want to feel I accomplishing something.
- Break bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. This helps you see progress before the task is completed. It helps to list each step on the To-Do list. Though it makes the list longer, you’ll also complete chunks on your To-Do list as you complete the “steps.”
- Get moving. Take a walk or simply spend 5-10 minutes doing stretches or simple calisthenics. Even dusting and vacuuming will help shift from a sedentary mind-set to a balance between work and movement. And movement changes body/brain chemicals.
- Refill the creative well. Reading has always been my escape and a trigger for new ideas. It energizes me. When I can’t settle enough to read, I listen to a book on tape or a story on podcast. (When I’m not feeling foggy, I’ll listen while I dust or do other chores.)
- Read for business. My writing magazines had piled up and I hadn’t visited my list of association websites or favorite blogs in ages. But, when I took 10-20 minutes to read an article or two a day, I felt I was doing something writing related, which helped me feel more focused.
- Journal. Whenever I record thoughts, events, and reflections on a regular basis, I feel more in control of my life. Not to mention the benefit of clearing the jumble in my head to make room for concentration!
- Change perspective. Since this is a trick for breaking writer’s block, I used it to clear the fogginess, too. I sat at a different table when I journaled, which provided a different view of the yard. I sat on the lanai to read instead of at my desk or in the living room. I took a pad of paper to the coffee shop and wrote. It can be energizing to do a regular task while looking at four new walls, so to speak.
Now that I’m out of the fog, I’m looking forward to a more productive month. Considering it’s a short month, this is perfect timing to emerge from the fog.