I have started using timers for everything. I already used the timers for cooking and laundry, but as of late, I have been using timers as a means to stay on task. I become frustrated with myself or with situations when I find myself distracted from what I wish to focus my energy. In the short 10 minutes since I sat down to write, my dog has visited me, the dog began to bark at children playing, I looked up two definitions of words on the internet, a toilet overflowed, and two children asked me questions.

Distraction is one of the plagues of western culture. No longer are people trying to figure out time management because the ability to focus is more of a problem. The largest problem with lack of focus is that our relationships are suffering the strain of our lack of attention and many are feeling devalued. Here are five ways to be more focused in your day so you can do what you want to do with your time and the people in your life instead of directing your energy to all the other things that are vying for your time.

1. Do not go on electronics during the first hour of your day and the last hour of your day. Your brain needs to focus so that you can plan out your day and remember what you need to remember. When you choose to not use electronics at the end of your day you are better able to relax, pray and plan for tomorrow so that you enter a more restful sleep.

2. Take notes throughout your day of things you wish to come back to later, but not at that moment. By taking notes you will stay on your current task instead of getting sidetracked.

3. Take breaks. Every hour of task focus requires a ten minute break so that your brain can rest and refocus. You will be able to complete a task faster if you take a break. Most people assume if they just stay on task they can finish faster but science has proven that breaks make task completion easier and more efficient. When at work, change up your task for 10 minutes each hour so as to reset your concentration.

4. When having a conversation with an individual, focus on their face. If you are having trouble staying focused when they are talking you can use several tricks to keep you attentive. You will find conversation more stimulating and relaxing when you focus.
A. Focus on all the aspects of their head: their eyes, eyelashes, skin, creases in their faces, etc.
B. Repeat to yourself (inside of your head) what the person is stating every couple of minutes. What are they feeling? What are they saying? If you are thinking about what your reply will be, you are not focused on listening. Keep your attention on what the person is stating.

5. Set timers for yourself so that you stay focused on something you have traditionally allowed to steal your time. For example, if you find yourself staying on Facebook longer than you wish, set a timer before you go onto the site. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and then get off the site when your timer goes off. You will come to see how much time you waste on things that you do not wish to focus upon.

Today I used a timer to keep myself on the task or writing. I knew I had one hour to write and by using a timer I stayed focused on the task. My challenge was to write as well as I could in one hour and edit what I needed to change during another time slot. When we focus our attention on things that we value as important instead of those that are not, we tend to find ourselves much more energized at the end of the day.