People are really struggling to stay focused these days, to stay on task, to identify that one thing they should do next. They’re just plain overwhelmed.
Focus has always been a common theme among my coaching clients, and it’s off the charts right now, no doubt made worse by the pandemic. I’m certain it’s affecting coaches, too. What I’m observing in others, I need to be aware of in myself.
We hope that as coaches, we can help people focus. For example, when one client was answering my question about what they wanted to talk about that day, they went on and on about many things.
I gently interrupted to ask, “What’s the ONE thing we talk about today?” It took a few moments, but they were able to get there. Yet they noticed how much harder it had been than it usually was.
If a client simply can’t narrow their thoughts to come up with their one thing, remind them of this question: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Let’s just start somewhere. It might not be where you end up focusing, but that’s okay. It’s a start.
Another strategy is to identify that there might be a focus issue happening and enlist the client’s help, for example: “Can we park it here for a moment? I’ve noticed that focus has been a challenge for many of my clients lately. How is it for you? What’s worked in the past? Let’s remember some of those strategies.”
Most clients will indeed have a bag of tricks for when they need to focus. Encourage them to revisit those strategies to remember what works, or add some new tools. Ask who else could help them plan their next step, whether at work or at home.
A friend of mine who works specifically with people on focus issues says that people with focus challenges typically have a very harsh inner critic whose volume is turned up high. In these types of situations, it is of utmost importance for the coach to acknowledge and applaud their client. Plus, coach them on how to lower the volume of their inner critic.
If you’re finding yourself stuck and unable to focus, change it up! Do something you usually wouldn’t do. Go outside for an hour in the middle of the day and play with your dog. At least that works for me.