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I found out, that sometimes when I change the activity, I can not fit to it and I still think about the previous one. For example, when I am really excited due to a call (or great weekend), it is hard to start focusing on another activity. Or when the things went wrong in the work, I cannot enjoy my time with family in the evening, the bad feeling from work is still there.

And this kills my productivity: if the first activity in the morning was not so successful as I expected, I cannot focus very well on the next one. This makes my frustration bigger and bigger and my productivity goes down.

How to switch from one activity to new one without the influence of passed activities? How can I clear my mind and calm down my emotions to be fully focused again?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

When something goes wrong you just have to look at logically. What has happened in the past cannot be changed no matter how much you dwell over it.

The best you can do is try to fix it, sincerely apologize to whomever was affected and then go on. Be aware of whatever went wrong so you don't make the same mistake again but don't dwell on it.

One thing I found helpful in getting me past the problem of dwelling on mistakes was to focus on the next task and tell myself, "I will complete the next task successfully by being more attentive." Because I was trying to "redeem" myself with the new task for whatever mistake(s) I made on the last task I was able to increase my focus on the new task - and usually do it very well.

As for being excited about an upcoming event... I find it helpful if I make a list of things I want to accomplish before the event and add the event at the end. Something like:

  • Port data from old web server to new webserver
  • Run all tests
  • Update documentation
  • E-mail notices to appropriate parties
  • Go to Halloween party!

Every time I check off something on the list I'm that much closer to the event I'm eager about.

Some other practical things you can do to recover from an activity that went poorly: meditate in a quiet place, talk to a friend that always makes you laugh, talk to someone in your life that makes you feel good about yourself, go for a walk/run or some other physical activity.

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My recommendation to you is to give Mindfulness training a try. It's basically a meditation technique, inspired by Buddhism. According to scientific studies, as little as two weeks of such training can significantly improve one's reading comprehension, working memory capacity, ability to focus and neglect distractions whenever they occur. I'm optimistic mindfulness would be a great help for you clear your mind from passed activities and help you regain focus.

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Generate a strong emotional state. Take a cold shower. When you take a cold shower all you'll be thinking about is the cold shower and how cold you are.

This will "reset" your emotional state.

Then you need to generate new strong emotional states in the present context. Find things which re-focus you on the present context.

Try this:

1) give yourself about 10 minutes per activity. Set up a stop watch. 2) do something 3) see how much it "changes your focus" 4) try something else for 10 minutes. 5) measure again.

Once you hit on a few things you'll find it easier to switch. A really good book might help switch.

Timing is important. Do the same thing (cold shower -> read a good book) for 10 minutes each when you get home to "get in the mood" for home based activities every day. After 3 days it will "take hold".

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I have had this issue for most of my career - and at least for me a big part of it was not having broken my work down into the smaller tasks I needed to accomplish to get the main job done. So I'd go home feeling like a failure (job not done) or, at best, neutral about my performance.

When I break ANY job down into small tasks (use some form of tracking, whether paper or online), you can check off a bunch of stuff each day and feel like you're on the path to getting things done. For me this was huge - it's amazing how much work we often do without giving ourselves credit.

So - for everything you are trying to achieve, take 5 minutes and come up with a list of the small tasks that are going to help you get there (i've been using which has been very helpful)...then start checking things off as you go.

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