Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Do you have those days where you seem to walk around with your head in a cloud? Days where you cannot concentrate on anything and where you do not seem to be able to complete a single task? Apparently people spend about 50% of our time thinking of other things then what we want to focus on.
Do you have days where making a painting or meditating seems impossible as the mind keeps wandering? When I have such a day, I cannot help but feel distracted by all I know I still have to do. At the same time, I feel guilty for not doing them.
What I try and do when I have that state of mind is the following:
1) make a to do list. Seeing clearly in front of you what needs to be done helps breaking the task of the day down in smaller chunks. It also helps me prioritise. Today I may not be able to archive all, so which ones are the most important? Making a bullet list can be a super fun thing to do as well as you can be creative and colourful and it can be a beautiful addition to your wall.
2) Set a timer for the amount of time I need to concentrate. Researchers have found that the average attention span for an adult is 20 minutes and apparently the use of social media is making that even shorter, some even suggest to 8 seconds! When I set a timer to 20 minutes, I agree with myself that after that time I stand up and do something else, such as making a cup of tea or sending a few texts.
3) Get fresh air. Sometimes the simplest solution is to step out of the zone you are in. Reset your mind by taking a walk, going for a run or a bike ride. Sometimes just stepping into the garden and taking a few deep breaths is enough to feel better. I find it easier to concentrate after I have stepped outside. Some tasks I can even do whilst being outside such as making a call, thinking about a project and making notes, making a drawing, meditating, these are all things you don’t need to be indoors for and a change of scenery can really help with focusing again!
If the above tricks for concentration do not work, I get some exercise. Often combined with getting fresh air, getting sweaty for me is the best way to change my mindset back to a positive one. You would not believe how often I leave the house grumpy and tense. When the run is finished, I come back with a clear mind, a purposeful feeling and a positive outlook on the day ahead.
These days are the most difficult days to meditate as my mind is all over the place and my body feels restless and twitchy. A great way to practice mindfulness when you feel this way is a walking meditation. Instead of sitting still, go for a walk and really notice how the body feels. How do you place your feet on the ground? Is it hard or bouncy? Do you start a step with your toes or heels, how does it feel when the pressure on your feet shifts? From there you can focus on the rest of your sensations. Is there wind on your skin, do you feel your heartbeat whilst walking. Check in with yourself and focus the mind on the present moment.
When I am trying to make art but I struggle concentrating, I start with some short warm up exercises. Something without pressure to make it beautiful and even without the definite intention to make a finished piece of art. If I struggle concentrating, I usually pick a picture I like from someone else as a reference, as that means I can focus on the drawing/painting piece without having to worry about what to make. Sometimes deciding that can be daunting in itself. I tend to keep a folder on Instagram and pinterest with pictures that I find interesting and youtube has lots or artist who post paint along videos that I love doing. For example, Sarah Zorel is a doodle artist whose exercises are great for starting a drawing session!
Keep in mind that everyone has days where it is hard to focus, the trick is to know when to be tough with yourself or whether it is a day where you need some extra kindness and perhaps postpone some of the tasks at hand.
Wishing everyone a calm and purposeful day with lots of creativity!