Energy and Focus: Where It Went and How to Get it Back

I’ve noticed that folks are having a challenging time keeping a focus on work.

Not only has the workplace become a more demanding and complex place, there has been an increase in consumer/client expectations. The results are that the workplace is more multifaceted, changing, and faster paced than ever before.

Add to that the pull of technology and social media. Since the November 2016 election and the January 20, 2017 inauguration, there has been a flood of updates, news, reactions and commentary.

People who are achievement oriented and responsible by nature have a solution to the increasingly demanding work place: work longer hours. This solution allows people to maintain a feeling of control. You may figure “If I work on Sunday afternoon and get all my reports done I can hit Monday morning ahead of the game.”

And also rarely exercise, neglect family and friends, eat lunch at the desk every day and logged into the workplace intranet after dinner each night to fit in an extra couple of hours work. Or cram it all in, finding it harder to oversee all of the details, because there is no relaxing/sleeping.  This is a short term, band aid solution and comes at a great personal cost.

More with Less? Physics Says it’s Unlikely
Many see no alternative solution. Viewing the problem as one to be measured by quantity, because there is simply too much work to be done in one day.

What about delegating some of these tasks? That’s not always an easy answer with cutbacks on staffing AND staff already overloaded.

Another difficulty may be working in a culture that is reinforcing the ‘working longer hours syndrome.’

Many hours = “badge of honor”/passage to further promotions.

The challenge to this is that exhausted people are not going to be super productive in the longer term. People are not machines. This is not a sustainable model.

What Can You Do?
You will need figure out your own personal and unique thresholds and tolerable tradeoffs. You can’t do more with less unless you understand what more means. This is not something that can be fixed overnight but there are definitely some actions that will work:

  • Develop Emotional Resilience – Emotional resilience is your ability to adapt, to “roll with the punches” and adjust to adversity without lasting difficulties. To some degree, it’s something you’re born with. Some people, by nature, are less upset by changes and surprises. Some of this is also related to factors that aren’t under your control such as age, gender, and exposure to trauma. It can be developed with a little effort. If you know what to do, you can become more resilient, even if you are naturally more sensitive to life’s difficulties.
  • Emotional Awareness – Understand what you are feeling and why. Knowing why you feel upset can provide valuable information about what needs to change in your life. It’s also important to do research on how to meet the challenges you face.
  • Perseverance – Be action-oriented. Trust in the process and don’t give up. Resilient people tend to view life’s difficulties as challenges and respond accordingly with action, rather than with fear, self-pity, blame or a “victim mentality.” While life can be very challenging, remind yourself that you are strong and can grow stronger and more wise as you handle life’s challenges.
  • Develop Internal Locus of Control – Resilient people believe that they’re in control of their lives, and while we can’t control our circumstances, we can control how we respond to those circumstances, and that makes a big difference in our attitudes and in the course our lives take.
  • Cultivate Optimism – Being an optimist is more than looking at the ‘glass as half full.” (Though that helps). It’s a way of viewing the world where you maximize strengths and accomplishments, and minimize weaknesses and setbacks. See the positives in most situations and believe in your own strength.
  • Support – Know the value of social support and are able to surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
  • Sense of Humor: Be able to laugh at life’s difficulties. If your sense of humor in threadbare or you don’t have much of one, spend time with people who make you laugh.
  • Perspective – Be able to learn from you mistakes (rather than deny them), see obstacles as challenges or a need to create a detour, and allow adversity to make you stronger. Find meaning in life’s challenges rather than seeing yourself as a victim.

.When you lose your focus, take a deep breath and remember to be patient with yourself and just do your best. Keep in mind: this is only a moment; not your whole life

 

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