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Taming the Scatter Brain

By Lori Radun

Do you ever feel like you are going in a hundred different directions but not really going anywhere? Maybe you run upstairs to do something, only to forget what you were going to do. You start doing something else, and then abandon that project when you think of something else that needs to be done. Perhaps you're busy all day but have nothing to show for your busyness. This is what I call "The Scatter Brain Syndrome", or in layman's terms, lack of focus.

The Scatter Brain Syndrome happens to all of us, but fortunately there are some quick fixes to this challenge.

Have a Specific Plan for Each Day
Before you begin your day, know exactly what you want to accomplish and what's on your agenda. Pretend your day is over and ask yourself what you need to feel like you had a productive and focused day. What is most important to you for this particular day only?

Pick 3 or 4 Tasks/Activities from your "To Do" List
Many of us have a huge ongoing "to do" list we work from. We add tasks to it at a much faster rate than we delete them. Looking at a large list can be distracting and overwhelming; this will interfere with your ability to focus. Pick 3 or 4 tasks you would like to focus on for the day and write them on a separate piece of paper, on a white board, an index card, in your planner or some other place that is separate from your big list. Focus ONLY on those tasks for the day.

Minimize Distractions
Everything and everyone is fighting for our attention. If you are trying to finish something, and the phone rings, don't answer it, unless it is an important phone call. If you can't screen your phone calls, learn to tell people you are in the middle of something and you'll call them back. Save television and internet surfing as rewards for completing the tasks you want to do. Use a timer to let small children know when you will be available to play, talk to them while you're finishing a task, or get them involved.

Stop Multi-tasking
You might be proud of the fact that you can multi-task; I know I was, but multi-tasking keeps your brain going in too many directions. Start and finish a task before you move on to the next one.

Take Breaks
I know; you probably think you don't have time to take breaks, but what if it made you more focused and productive? During your five to ten minute breaks, spend some time meditating and clearing your mind. Don't sit and think about all the things you need to do. Relax and let your mind rest.

Minimize Stress
Stress can create a scattered brain so you need to find ways to minimize it. The two best natural antidotes to stress are sleep and exercise. When you are tired, your coping mechanisms get weak. My doctor has always told me that exercise is the best natural antidepressant on the market.

Add Fish Oil to Your Diet
Adding Omega 3's to your diet has significant health benefits. Fish oil has long been considered by doctors around the world to be one of the most effective remedies for many health related issues, including depression, improving memory and concentration, as well as ADHD. You can read more about the benefits of fish oil on Dr. Barry Sears's website.

Keep an Accomplishment Journal
Sometimes it feels like we have The Scatter Brain Syndrome, when in reality, we've accomplished more than we think. At the end of your day, keep a journal of everything you did that day.

  • Did a load of laundry
  • Paid the bills
  • Went to work
  • Played a game with the kids
  • Called a friend
  • Changed the baby's diaper 5 times
  • And so on

An accomplishment journal helps you focus on what you did do, instead of what you didn't. Put your energy in the right place and give yourself the credit you deserve.

A scatter brain does not mean you are doomed to a life of forgetfulness, lack of productivity or concentration. It probably means you're pretty normal, but you may need to try some new antidotes to The Scatter Brain Syndrome.

Copyright © 2008 Lori Radun, CEC
Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach for moms.

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