I was putting together my plans for writing this particular post. I had decided to write on the topic of focus. I pulled up Excel and started making a list of the things focus will help you do. It wasn't a bad list from what I remember.

I say that because I heard a noise. Initially I was going to ignore it but the back of my mind kept working. This make me freeze on my spreadsheet; what was that tickle in my mind that suddenly had taken my mind off this topic of focus?

Once my mind wandered I was in trouble. Accidentally I erased a line, and I hit the keys I thought would put the line back; after all, I'm very good with Excel. Instead, another line disappeared; wasn't I supposed to hit Ctrl-Y? I hit it a few more times, and all my lines left. When all the lines were gone I remembered that it's supposed to be Ctrl-X; ugh.

I hit that; nothing happens. Well, that's not actually true. One of the cells highlights telling me I can paste something there. But I hadn't highlighted anything; my spreadsheet was blank again. I had done it; I'd erased my entire outline for this article.

I had lost focus and done the wrong thing. I lost focus on topics for an article on focus; how ironic. Of course, my mind had finally figured out that the sound I'd heard was a message being sent to my smartphone, which was in the other room. Had the phone been with me I'd have immediately known what it was and I might have kept my focus. Instead, my mind decided on trying to figure out, or focus on, identifying that sound.

Focus is a strange thing. If offers us to many benefits if we can stick with it. Yet our minds seem to determine what it's going to focus on and sometimes that's that. We'll be trying to work yet there's that noise driving us crazy. We're trying to sleep yet there's something nagging us in the back of our mind. How come it seemed like we could do many things at once when we were young, and now sometimes we can't even finish a sentence because our mind goes elsewhere?

So this article on focus goes a different direction. Instead of benefits of focus, I'm going to mention the one true way I know how to focus, which I hadn't employed and thus allowed myself to be distracted, then get confused.

The only way focus really works is to figure out what the best thing is for you to do to help avoid being distracted. For me it's usually having music playing in the background. It doesn't have to be loud but it does have to be something I like. I've found that when I pop on Windows Media Player and start playing the type of music I might be in the mood to listen to at that moment that my focus really zeroes in well. Even if I find myself humming or singing along with the music, I'm very focused on my task at hand. Even a ringing phone won't throw me off.

I'm not sure why that works but I believe something like this works for everyone. Maybe you need white noise to help you focus. Maybe you need a TV in the background to help you focus. Maybe you need total silence, which is hard to come by, to help you focus. Maybe you need a visual thing to focus on, such as a lava lamp. Whatever it is, see if an interesting kind of distraction, one that you'll eventually block out, will help you concentrate.

As for me, I have turned on some music, and I feel better already; ahhh, Beethoven!