Focus: 9 tips to help you stay on track

Focus AcronymWhy can’t I focus? Have you asked yourself that question?  I have been hearing the word FOCUS over and over in the classes that I facilitate and from my coaching clients.  Many people have been telling me lately that they don’t even try to do one thing at a time.  They just can’t concentrate at all or get things finished.

What is focus?  Merriam-Webster describes it as “to concentrate attention or effort”.  Follow One Course Until Successful is a great acronym for FOCUS. But, how can we concentrate on one thing until we complete our task?  According to my clients, focusing is getting more difficult.  Also, younger people don’t even try to focus at all.  They seem to enjoy the chaos of ever constant media interruptions.

We have so many things that compete for our attention that it can be difficult to focus.  Here are some tips to help you concentrate for a longer period of time so that you may start or finish a project.

  1. Be intentional.  Decide that you will focus at a specific time.  Prepare to focus on a specific task.  Take a few deep breaths and start.
  2. Play the 10 minute game.  Tell yourself that you will focus for only 10 minutes then take a break.  If you can focus for that long, try for 15 minutes the next time.  If you can’t even focus for 10 minutes start with 3 or 5 minutes at a time.
  3. Know your time of day.  I have always been a night owl.  I know that I focus, study, and retain best after 7pm.  I would rather stay awake until 2am to finish something than wake up early. If I try to wake up early to finish something it is an utter disaster.  My body and mind don’t work as well in the early morning.  Know what time that you are at your best.
  4. Don’t turn it on.  When I worked in an office when Instant Message (IM) was new and everyone loved to IM all day long.  I never turned mine on because I knew that it would take away my focus.  If there is some type of media that you know will take away your focus don’t even use it.  It is OK not to use the latest fad app out there.
  5. Clear away distractions. Think about your 5 senses.  If there is anything around the place where you hope to focus – try to eliminate it.  Make sure that your desk is clear, noise is minimal (or use white noise), and there is nothing to get your attention.  Yes, even smells can make you lose your focus.  Have you ever smelled chocolate chip cookies cooking in the oven?  That would absolutely make me lose my focus.
  6. Give yourself a goal.  Huge goals are very imposing so break them down into bite-sized pieces.  OK not bite sized (I’m still thinking about the cookies), but smaller goals.  Use your 10 minutes (or how much time you can focus) to complete the small goal.
  7. Reward yourself.  After you have focused for your amount of time that you desired, take a break.  Go onto Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram.  Watch that video or listen to some music and dance!  One of my coaching clients decided that she would watch a lifetime movie after she completed one of her smaller goals.  Do what works for you.
  8. Use an affirmation.  Tell yourself a positive statement and believe that you will stay focused.  Say to yourself, “I will complete this task.  I will stay focused” when you find your mind drifting.
  9. *Try the rubber band method.  When I seriously have to focus this method always works for me.  I put a rubber band around my wrist and when I find attention wandering I literally “snap” out of it.  I pull the rubber band and let it snap against my wrist.  It does sting a bit but it wakes me up and helps me get back to business.

I hope that these tips can help you start learning how to focus.  Try different methods and soon you will be able to stick to one thing for a while.  Build up to concentrating on only one thing at a time.  This is difficult for those of us who love to do many things at once.  Multitasking is a myth.  Research has shown that our brain can only do one thing at a time.  So, work on your focus.  Get things done and you meet your goals faster and be happier in life.

Let me know how these tips work for you.

*Please use this method responsibly.


Lori blog

#multitasking  #focus  #tips  #goals



What is refreaving?


I was a military brat for 13 years from birth.  Dad was a marine and we were never in one state for more than 2 or 3 years.  That made it difficult to keep friends and I was not one to write letters or think of relationships at that young age.  I went to high school and college in Michigan after he got out of the military, but as soon as I had my degrees I quickly moved some place warmer, the Washington, DC area.  I moved around the DC area from Maryland to DC to Virginia.  My husband, then an FBI agent, was at the whim of his “military”.  We moved to the Dallas, Texas area for 3 years then back to headquarters in DC. I now live in Florida. I’ve lived in a lot of states.

When people ask me where I’m from, I tell them the United States because I have no “home town.” Most people can say they are from somewhere.  Many of my friends had the opportunity to live in one place and now have friends that they have known since they were born.

How am I so lucky to have friends that I can talk to like we just talked yesterday?  Even if it had been more than ten or fifteen years between? Susan McDonald1 calls this a “picking up where we left off” lifetime kind of friendship.

Larry, my dear friend from Texas, emailed that he will be in town for 24 hours.  I had not seen him in over 10 years and of course, I said “Come on Down!”  When he walked in the door, I gave him a big hug and we talked like he was just here yesterday.  We had both gotten “blonder” hair but, still had our back and forth banter.  This is when I realized that I have quite a few friends where I can “pick up where we left off”.  In fact, I knew that Larry would be the perfect person to help me figure out a word for this concept.

We went back and forth on the word “re-connecting”, but this concept of “picking up right where we left off” encompasses more than connecting. In fact, we didn’t even need to connect at all.  The connection was already there.  Then, there was the idea of time or the lack of time passing.   He called it “time losing its length.”  We decided that there is no word for this, so he and I floated many ideas in the air between us.  It is amazing how Larry and I, two extraverts, can actually “see” ideas “floating” in the space between us.  Fortunately, for me, I have a few friends with whom I “bat around ideas.” But, that is a subject for another blog.

The two of us decided that soldering and bonding were good words but we landed on weaving.  Friendships are woven and we can keep weaving new material into the tapestry of our friendship.  So, we settled on friendship and weaving…Freaving.  But, we still needed to add the concept of “time losing its length” and meeting again.  Refreaving is what we decided to call our new word.

Refreave is the new word to use to stand for the “picking up where we left off” in a relationship after much time has passed.  It can be used in many different instances.  For example, my friend Robbin and I see each other about once a year, at one point it had been over 10 years.  We seldom talk on the phone or text but when we do see each other, we experience refreaving. See?  This word describes the concept in only one word and not an entire phrase.  Larry and I talked about how we refreaved on his trip to Florida.

Is there another word to express this concept or have we created a new word?  I challenge you to find that one word or to jump on the bus to new word creation!  The young adults and teens of today are creating all kinds of new words.  I was “on fleek” the other day – or was it just my eye brows?  How about “buddymoon?”  This describes a honeymoon to which the married couple’s friends are invited. And we can’t forget all of the words made up because of technology such as:  google, laptop, flash drive, cell phone, iPad, PowerPoint, email, and many others.

Let me know some other words that are brand new.  Share a concept or idea that needs a new word.  Let’s get going!





Better not Bitter

forgiveRecently, I was teaching a class on emotional intelligence (EQ) and one of the participants asked if forgiveness was a part of EQ.  I thought about the answer but, as an experienced facilitator, I did not give an answer.  I instead asked, “What do you think?”  This started a long conversation about forgiveness and how intelligent it is to forgive and not to hold a grudge against another person.

After thinking about this conversation for a few days, I decided to reflect on, and conduct some research on the concept of forgiveness.  As always, I try to find a definition of the term or concept that I am teaching or trying to understand.  After checking out a few definitions, I resonated with this one by the Mayo Clinic Staff.  “Forgiveness involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.”  Next, my mind jumped to the opposite of forgiveness – resentment and revenge – holding a grudge.  All people are different when it comes to their tolerance of forgiving and letting go (please refer to the song).  I’ve always been one of the lucky ones that can “let it go” better than most.  If I am upset and feeling unforgiving one day; I usually wake up the next morning feeling better and I have forgiven.  However, I have many people in my family who do not have this gift.  In fact, they have the opposite “gift”; the gift of grudge holding.

Imagine that you are a marine.  You are trained to fight and defend your country.  You go to war to fight the enemy.  Next, you hear that your younger sister, a nurse, has decided to heal the enemy.  You, the marine, decide not to talk to your sister ever again.  This choice she made was unforgiveable.  She could have healed the person who killed your “brothers”.  He did not talk to his sister for over thirty years.  This indeed is a very difficult situation and I have heard of much worse.  This marine is my father.  I never met my aunt as an adult.  I had no memory of her.  When I was in my mid 30s I had a child and my aunt sent me a card.  I had heard the story of her choice, of my dad’s choice.  My dad never spoke about my aunt.  She was not a part of his family any longer.   Who is hurt by unforgiveness?  I’m sure my aunt was hurt.  She never met ¼ of her family.  But, I am sure my father was hurt as well and our family was wounded and damaged.

My class discussed the wounds, the damage, and the bitterness.  One of the women in the class said to forgive you would feel better not bitter.  Next, we talked about better not bitter being the next “catch phrase”. Then we looked it up online and discovered that there were many books with that title and some religious sermons.  We told stories about people we knew who chose to be bitter and not better such as the story about my father.  Jane, told a story about her sister, Frieda, who never had any friends because no one could live up to her expectations.  If her new friend let her down she would not forgive her and excommunicated her (off the island!) as my dad did to his sister.  The only ironic part about this story is that the new friend never knew that Frieda was holding this grudge.  The friend would play with someone else on the playground and not think twice about Frieda.  Meanwhile, Frieda was fuming and festering with thoughts of resentment and revenge.  Frieda was getting more bitter by the moment.  Soon, Frieda had no friends not only because no one could live up to her high expectations, but because she was always grumpy and bitter.  This cycle continued until Frieda went to college and got a roommate who didn’t let her get away with the silent treatment.  This roomie, Kristi, wanted Frieda to go out dancing with everyone else on the dorm floor.  Finally, Frieda couldn’t resist having fun in college.  She was “cured” of her bitterness because she made a choice to change.  As soon as Frieda made that choice, she felt better and had a happier life.

We can forgive even after many years of holding a grudge.  My father finally did see his sister again before she died.  I think that helped heal the family and his life.

Coming full circle, back to the question about forgiveness being part of emotional intelligence.  It is not a factor or one of the dimensions.  However, forgiveness as we have seen through these stories is part of our interpersonal relationships; which is one of the factors in EQ.  When we forgive, our interpersonal relationships are healthier and happier.  So, if you hold resentment and often think about revenge over something that has happened with a friend, make that choice to forgive.  Choose better, not bitter.

#betternotbitter   #forgiveness   #emotionalintelligence

Lori blog







The strangest answer ever to the question…What is your greatest strength.?

What are your strengths and weaknesses interview questionMarcus Buckingham said, “Teams that use strengths, massively and consistently out preform teams that don’t use their strengths every day even if you are slightly positively deluded as to what your strengths are – it doesn’t seem to matter” in the video Marcus Buckingham presents the Business Case for Strengths.  This is a great video that discusses great teams not great companies.  According to Buckingham rarely 1 in 10 people feel that their strengths are in play in the workplace.  It is important when interviewing to know your strengths to be productive in your new company.  But, what if you really don’t know how to find your strengths?  I had that happen recently.

While teaching a class on Interview Skills I had a huge range of participant’s age ranges and experience levels.  One 19 year old man, we’ll call him Joel, had never held a job and had absolutely no idea how to interview.  He had no idea that most interviewers ask that fated question, “tell me about your strengths and weakness”.  When we did a role play he was absolutely lost – he joked around because he was feeling incompetent and did not want the group to know that he was lost.

I realized what was happening and listened in as his partner said to him, “Dude, I really care about you.  I want you to get a good job.  Let’s really work on this.”  I was touched and asked Joel what is your greatest strength?  Now I have asked that questions to probably over 100 people in the last 10 years.  He gave the strangest answer I had ever heard.  “My thighs”!  (WHAAAT?)  When I asked if I heard him correctly he said yes. His thighs.  I asked him what was so great about his thighs.  He said he works out every day and he used to be really skinny but now this is his greatest thing about him.  OK…I decided to go with that thought and try to move him closer to an interview scenario. “So, you work out everyday?” I asked, “Even when you don’t feel well?  Even when you have something better to do?”  “Yes”, he said, “everyday”.  Well, you have great discipline!  That is an excellent strength in the workforce.  People know you will come into work on time and do your job with great discipline.

He was shocked that he had discipline.  He thought he was mostly lazy and that is why he never had a job in the past.  He liked to play video games at his parent’s house.  But, now he realized that he had to get a job and was attending this class.  Now, he had to learn to apply his greatest strength to the workforce.  But, that is another story.  So, back to Marcus Buckingham’s quote about being deluded as to what your strengths are.  In fact, Marcus said, “positively diluted as to what your strengths are”.  Well, Joel was diluted when he said, “my thighs”.  If he were the mail deliver in a company and walked (using his thighs) each day would that make his team great?  I am still trying to come to grips with the Buckingham quote.  What has your experience been with people who truly do not know their strengths or have been “positively deluded” as to what their strengths are?  Sure, they can take the assessments – but some do not have the means.  Let me know your experiences.


#strengths   #funny   #Interviewskills