Four Ways To Help You Stay Focused

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Does this sound familiar?  One minute you’re whizzing through your to do list, the next minute you’re watching cute puppy videos on Facebook or scrolling through your favorite retail store’s website. If it does, you are not alone.   A recent study by Microsoft revealed that the average attention span is eight seconds.  NO wonder it takes effort to stay focused.

Too many distractions can cause you to get behind on necessary tasks and deadlines.  Even the smallest of distractions can begin to add up and affect our lives in every area.  When you find yourself  playing catch up to finish the things that MUST be completed, it can begin to take away from your own personal time.  Based on my twenty seven years of experience as a personal trainer, I can confirm that exercise and preparing meals are usually some of the first things that get pushed onto the back burner when there is a time-crunch.  The good news is there are things you can do to limit distractions in your day and maintain your concentration.

How To Stay Focused

Here are a few tips on how to stay focused throughout your day and guard your precious time.

Take breaks.  Yes, breaks actually help you stay focused.  Give yourself a short break every thirty minutes.  Your body will thank you for it and taking a moment to stop and reactivate your goal can help you maintain your concentration.

Keep your cell phone ringer off while working on deadlines.  Technology is a wonderful thing and we all need to stay connected.  However, research is showing that receiving texts or phone calls can result in more mistakes during a computer task.  If you’re working on a deadline it’s a good idea to turn your phone to silent and then set a time when you will check your phone and return messages.  Keeping it on silent allows you to have it close by in the event of a true emergency.

Limit multitasking.  A recent study suggests that your brain can’t handle more than two big tasks at one time.  It can divide two tasks successfully but any more than that is too much for your mind to juggle.  Personally, I think it’s a good idea to experiment with multitasking.  Figure out what works for you.  You may be someone that performs best when you focus on one big task while passively performing another.  For example, driving while listening to an audio book is a great way to learn while commuting from one place to another.

Practice awareness.  If you notice your mind wandering off, take a pause from whatever it is you are doing at that very moment.  Whenever I’m supposed to be writing a blog post and find myself surfing Facebook, I look at the clock and check to see if it’s time to get up and move.  It usually is so I’ll get up and get some water, a snack, or even throw in a load of laundry.  During that time I’ll get my thoughts together and even give myself a little “focus pep talk” This helps me become more present in the moment and take back control of how I’m spending my time.  We all drift off from time to time; it’s being aware of it that helps us redirect our attention back to the task at hand.

When it comes to successfully completing tasks, focus and discipline are necessary ingredients.  No two lives are the same so I recommend you experiment with these tips and then figure out what works for you personally.

Here’s to being super productive and successful!

With Love,

Five Ways To Exercise Without Ever Going To The Gym


Jennifer Ledford - Personal Trainer - Fitness & Healthy Lifestyle Coaching - Exercise Without Ever Going To The Gym

Fourteen years ago I was training private clients in gyms.  My job was to help them develop a regular exercise program.  I would put together carefully crafted easy-to-follow exercise programs and even remind them to pack their gym bag the night before.  Despite all of this planning and their motivation to participate, many of my clients would struggle with making it to the gym regularly.  The main reason was TIME.  Notice I said reason and not excuse.  That’s because they would come to me frustrated and I would look at their schedule with them and once I took a look at their calendar I would look them in the eye and say “you’re right, you don’t have time to go to the gym.”  I realized that by the time my clients got dressed, drove across town to the gym and then back home, they could have already finished a solid workout routine.  The gym was not a good fit for them.  So, I started developing in-home programs.  One thing led to another and my private in-home training business was born.

Gyms are a great concept and I have nothing against them but there are many reasons (the time issue being one of them) that only twenty percent of the members will use a gym two to three times per week.  You’ll rarely ever hear a gym tell you they have a waiting list or they are all sold out.   For many people, their gym membership ends up being a monthly charitable contribution that they don’t want to cancel because that will mean they have given up or failed.

If you’re someone that wants to exercise regularly but have a hard time making it to the gym, you are totally normal.  You may be struggling with finding the time to go to the gym or it might make you feel uncomfortable.  Or, maybe it’s because after a long day at work under fluorescent lighting, the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is exercise indoors or be away from your family and/or pets.  Whatever the reason, I give you full permission to cancel your gym membership if you know that you will never use it.

Here Are Five Ways You Can Exercise Without Ever Setting Foot In The Gym

1) Exercise outdoors.  Exercising outdoors has proven to offer even more health benefits than exercising indoors.  A recent study revealed that exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, as well as decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression.  Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.

One of my favorite ways to exercise is to walk our four dogs.  I log in several miles per day spending quality time with them.  From time to time I need to motivate myself to get up and go (even personal trainers need a prod now and then) but ninety nine percent of the time I look forward to being outdoors and close to nature with our animals.

2) Buy some cardio equipment.  Consider your own indoor exercise equipment if you have the space for it.  Treadmills, elliptical trainers, and exercise bikes are the most popular and versatile.  Machines are a nice backup for the outdoor exerciser as well.   When it gets a bit snarly outside, I recommend clients hop on their “rainy day” equipment and do a good old-fashioned machine workout. You can try an interval workout to mix things up a bit.

You can buy used equipment with warranties from companies like Play It Again Sports if you’d rather not pay the price for brand new equipment.

3) Jump.  Indoor trampolines are a really great way to burn calories. You will feel like you are playing! This also works your core and leg muscles. Rumor has it that continual use of the trampoline can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Experiment with five minutes of jumping, then alternate to five minutes of high knees rapid marching or stair stepping. Turn on your favorite tunes and do this three times for a total of 30 minutes.

Trampolines are budget-friendly and make great “rainy day” tools as well.

4) Use exercise videos.  Exercise videos are a great way to schedule your workout on demand.  Make sure the routine you choose is appropriate for your level of fitness and don’t do anything that causes pain or you are unsure about.  For access to some of my favorite simple exercises you can do at  home, click on this link.

5) Create a home gym.  Whenever I help a private client set up a home gym, there are some basic pieces of equipment that I consider staples.  My criteria is simple.  The equipment should have multiple functions and be able to be easily stored, especially  if the client does not have one room dedicated to exercise equipment.  This helps cut down on clutter and cost.

One of the most versatile strength training and endurance tools on the market is the TRX Suspension Training System. You can use it to stretch, build strength, increase endurance, improve stability, and develop a great looking physique. The TRX is suitable for beginner to advanced levels of fitness and can be used anywhere. The list price is $199.95 but since I’m a certified TRX trainer the company allows me to share a direct link with you that offers a discount.  Click here for the discounted link.

Photo courtesy of

TRX HOME Suspension Trainer

You may be someone that likes the gym but realistically can only make it there a few days per week, or you’d like to combine your gym workouts with some in-home or outdoor exercise.  This makes you more of a hybrid.   I recommend using the gym for the things you can’t do at home, like your favorite spin class or the swimming pool.  Then, supplement with your in-home or outdoor routine.

Finding the right exercise routine is personal.  So make sure it fits your lifestyle and it’s something you can sustain stress-free.

To your health!

How To Exercise Without It Feeling Like A Chore


iStock_Couple withsurfboard

Want to know a simple way to stay active in your spare time — and burn extra calories without it feeling like a “chore?” It’s easy! Increase your leisure time activity!

Leisure time physical activity is generally considered any exercise, sport or recreational activity that is not job related; is not a household task; and is not fulfilling a transportation need.

Currently, the average adult in the United States spends 90% of their leisure time sitting. While that statistic sounds a bit scary, it’s very simple to stay active and not fall under the “average.”

Increasing leisure time activity not only helps you stay active — it can help you with your weight loss efforts, and can positively impact heart health and longevity.


1) Find something you like. No amount of coaxing, coaching, or fancy accountability programs will motivate you to stick to something in your leisure time that you are not interested in.

Choose activities you enjoy and that rejuvenate you. Some examples include: playing with your kids, walking your dog, hiking with friends, walking by the water, cycling,  or strolling through a botanical garden. These can all be considered leisure time activities.

2) Turn off the screen. Pay attention to how many hours you spend watching TV and/or surfing on the internet. Try turning off the screen for one day on the weekend. Use that time for physically active recreation.

Sometimes it’s difficult to unplug for a whole day. If that’s the case, decide how much time you need for your task, set a timer, and log off when you’re done. Then, go do something more physically active.

3) Exercise with purpose. Local walks/runs for charities are great leisure activities that also raise money for your favorite causes.

4) Ditch the car. Take advantage of any opportunity to leave your car parked and walk.

5) Track your progress. Step counters are a great way to measure an increase in activity. Seeing the effects of walking to the movies, throwing the ball with your kids, or taking the dog to the park will inspire you to keep it up. Whether you are athletic or not, a monitor can also motivate you to be competitive with yourself — which can lead to an increase in activity.

6) Try something new. Have a desire to try a new activity? Commit to trying it one time. Who knows? You may hit the jackpot and find something you want to keep up regularly.

Some examples would be horseback riding, a golf lesson, visiting the museum, surfing, paddle boarding, hiking in a park and having a picnic, or strolling at a mall you’ve never been to.

No matter what you choose, keep it fun. It is leisure time after all!

Here’s to staying active!
Jennifer Ledford