You are busy with your work, reading, or listening to a lecture, when you suddenly realize that your attention has wandered to other matters.
You have forgotten what you were doing and started daydreaming.
Instead of focusing on your work, on the book, or on the words of the lecturer, you were lost in a reverie about something else, completely unrelated to what you were doing.
You sit at your desk at work, at a meeting or in a classroom, while your mind is miles away, busy with other things. Suddenly, you realize that someone has asked you a question. You see him or her staring at you, but you don’t know what the question was. This could be embarrassing.
I am sure you are familiar with such situations. This often happens to most people. The mind just wanders away.
This happen when there is lack of focus.
The strange thing is you don’t even recall when your mind became distracted and for how long.
This happens to everyone, and sometimes, even in situations where it could be risky to lose the attention, such as while driving.
Losing the attention, and allowing the mind to wander, is quite a common daily occurrence. This happens at all ages and to all people.
Losing the attention often occurs, when you are bored, tired, or doing something you don’t like doing.
When Do You Lose Your Attention and Your Mind Wanders Away?
When does your mind wander?
- If you don’t like your work, your attention might frequently wander to other matters.
- You might find yourself thinking about your last vacation or your upcoming vacation.
- You might start thinking about the party tomorrow or the movie you have seen yesterday.
- You might think about something that someone said, which made you angry.
- You might worry about all kinds of matters.
- Often, you listen to conversations that are going on around you, watch what people are doing, or just think about unimportant and irrelevant matters.
- The mind also tend to ruminate when you have worries and problems.
Losing your attention could be risky, if you are a driver or works with machinery. It could lead to mistakes and errors and to inefficiency in every kind of work.
It is less likely for the mind to wander, when you are doing something, which you love doing, or are excited about. The excitement and interest do not allow your mind to wander away.
This is most obvious with children playing a game that they like. They become engrossed in the game and become oblivious of everything else. However, when they become bored and lose interest, their attention immediately wanders away and they stop focusing it on the game.
Let’s Make an Experiment.
Let’s make an experiment controlling the attention.
1. Sit down comfortably in a quiet place.
2. Look at the square below, and focus your attention on it for about two minutes. Be careful not to strain your eyes. Blink, if you feel you need to.
3. Focus o on the square, and try not to think of anything else.
4. You can set an alarm clock to ring after two minutes.
Now, after you finished, I would like to ask you two questions.
- What happened while you tried to focus your attention on the square?
- Were you able to hold your attention steady? Probably not!
Your attention wandered to other thoughts, probably just a few seconds after you started to try to focus it. Then, you realized that you were not directing your attention to the square, and brought it back. This perhaps happened quite a few times.
This exercise proves how easily the mind wanders away. I am sure you realize by now, how important it is to be able to focus your attention on what you are doing.
You might say that you enjoy daydreaming and you enjoy when your mind wanders away. It is a sort of escape from a boring job or a boring task.
It is like a vacation. It is a way to escape what you do not like. Actually, I am inclined to believe that a great percentage of people daydream part of the time at work, especially when doing some kind of automatic activity that does nor require much attention.
The mind likes to wander to something more pleasant and enjoyable than what you are doing at the moment, but it can equally, wander to negative thinking, worries and problems.
Developing the Ability to Control Your Mind
It would be most useful to develop the skill to control the attention.
- This increases the attention span, and puts you in a better position to do your job better, and therefore get a promotion.
- With this skill developed, when you work, the likelihood of making mistakes is smaller.
- You finish tasks in a shorter span of time.
- At a lecture, you will not miss anything.
- While driving, you will be more attentive of the road and how you are driving.
- When with friends, at a meeting ,or with customers, you will not miss what’s going on, and would always be aware of what people are saying or asking.
- This ability is also useful, when you meditate, helping you to focus and to clear your mind of unessential thoughts.
4 Simple Tips to Stop the Wandering of the Mind
- Try to be aware of the thoughts that pass through your mind. This would help you become aware when your mind is starting to wander, and therefore, be in the position of bringing it back more easily.
- Try to focus on what you are doing. Don’t do one thing, while at the same time thinking of something else.
- When you are busy with something, and an important thought pops up into your mind, write it down on a piece of paper, so that you would return to it later.
- When tired or bored at work, while studying, or at any other times, stop what you are doing for a few moments, stretch your body, and take a few deep breaths.
- When your mind wanders away to other matters, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do to make what I am doing more interesting?”
- Have enough rest and sleep and exercise your body. This would give you more energy to stay alert.
In my book, Focus Your Attention, I have covered this issue and provided guidance and exercises to focus the atention.
This book teaches how to improve the concentration and how to focus on what you are doing. You will find in this book guidance, tips and simple exercises to improve your concentration, which will help you stop your mind from wandering away when you need to focus it.
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