The moment you get effortlessly lost in your work goes by several names – focus, flow, concentration and so on. It is the moment when you function at your best and the rest of the world fades out. It is the time when you are able to calibrate your mind to focus on one thing and ‘get things done’.
Maintaining focus can be a challenge for some people. These people are distracted by worries, anxiety and thoughts about the past and future. Some studies say that the average person can function at his highest level of focus and efficiency for about six hours a day and that is a grand loss of time. This has even greater implications for a trainer. Trainers, more than anyone else need to be functioning from the place of the ‘here and now’ to be effective. How do we as trainers then remain focused when we have had a particularly tough week or have too many things on our plate?
When you decide to focus, the brain does one of two things – it takes in all information and starts processing it to find out what you want or it decides to focus on a single piece of information. How does this pan out in a training scenario? When we decide to focus on the training, the brain has the ability to take in all that it sees and then sort information like dimensions of the training hall, the training participants as they walk in or the training equipment. Alternatively, the brain can zoom in like a laser and focus on the piece of information that is most critical in the trainer’s mind.
While understanding how the brain functions is one part of the story, the crucial part is figuring out how one can be focused during trainings. The key to remaining focused is to identify our external and internal triggers and getting rid of them for blocks of time. The most common external triggers are things like loud music, glaring lights, frantic movement and so on. These external triggers can be dealt with by removing visual triggers from your line of sight and practicing staying associated. Staying associated means being aware of your surroundings and all that is happening around you. The tricky part is dealing with your internal triggers. A few trainers are distracted by thoughts about an upcoming training or one gone by or things to be done in the evening. This requires catching the internal trigger at the beginning and dealing with it. These triggers while difficult to control can be regulated with conscious effort and practice.
Meditation is a tried and tested method when dealing with internal distractions. It is a great way to gradually discipline your mind to stay focused and stay with one thing for an extended period of time. The other trick is to increase the relevance of the training in your mind. The human brain is like a drop down list. The item at the top of the pile gets the greatest attention. If your training is at the top of the list, chances are that it will get the undivided attention of the brain. The other technique that has worked for many trainers is to build a good, engaging story around the training. Once again the brain likes to stay with things that are entertaining and pleasant.
This week we would like to hear from you about things that you do to function at your highest level of efficiency during your trainings? What techniques have worked for you to remain focused? How has being focused increased the quality and impact of your training?