Even the most productive people on the planet lose focus. Knowing how to self-manage and regain composure separates the best from the rest.

Here are five of the ways I cope when I lose focus.

1. Rest

It may seem simple, but fatigue and cognition don't mix. Multiple studies (including this one) link fatigue and sleepiness to attention, concentration and memory lapses.

The type of rest you take will depend on your work setting and time commitments. Even micro breaks -- a 5-minute break and walk around the office, a 7-minute walk around the block, a 10-minute nap -- will help move the needle and refresh you.

2. Recontextualize

Dan Sullivan likes to say that the problem is never the problem -- instead, the problem is that you don't know how to think about the problem.

Ask yourself a series of questions to recontextualize the project or task:

  • What is the ideal outcome of the project?
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What are the best and worst case scenarios?
  • Who is this for -- and what does he/she want?
  • What's the biggest obstacle to progress?

Based on your thoughtful answers to these questions, envision the task from one or all of those perspectives. Bonus: Loop in a high Quick Start friend and share your results of this exercise for some innovative ideas to proceed.

3. Rotate (To Another Task)

Realistically, we're all multitasking these days. If your focus on one task wanes, spend 15 or 20 minutes on something else.

Your brain will continue processing the previous task in the background -- much like a computer -- and this mini break might be just what you need to make a creative breakthrough.

4. Reengineer

Rework the project or your approach. This step works best for me when the project is clear, but I still lack focus or commitment on the tasks involved.

Sometimes it involves shuffling the order of steps, the team involved on the project, the timeline or the deliverables. Other times it's as easy as delegating a set of tasks to someone else, so that I can focus on my "highest use, best use" activities.

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