Last updated on December 15th, 2018 at 10:39 am
If you’re having a hard time staying focused at work or in life in general – here are 5 tips that have helped me – someone who isn’t naturally organized and lives for distractions!
Sometimes I wonder how I even finished school being the unfocused human that I am today. But as far as I can remember I was really focused at school.
I would sit down and solve my math problems like there’s nothing else to do in the world right now. Without for a second wondering whether it would be hard or not. Where did that girl go? And what happened to her mad math skills?
Now I can’t even finish a sentence without being distracted. In fact whenever I edit a blog posts I often find a half-written sentence just standing there, hanging out, waiting to be finished. But do I finish it?
No. Because like Jay Z said – I’m onto the next one. There are so many things to do, learn and see in this world. Or should I say, in this computer? Phone? The internet? Cyberspace? Myspace…I’m 30 something, don’t judge.
With so much information and so many tasks and goals I set for myself, it’s been really hard to stay focused and to get things done, especially since I started blogging.
It’s way different than being employed – there’s nobody to check on you, yell at you, let you know you’re a big disappointment and shame on you when you don’t finish a task. It’s just you.
And me, even if I’m passionate about it, even if I really NEED it, even if it’s not that difficult to do, there are so many other easier options that doing the hard work is not really worth it.
Except it is.
And I found a way to be more focused and to get things done, even if I’m not perfect at it. Here are the 5 tips that helped stay focused at work and in life.
5 Steps To Stay Focused When There’s So Much To Do
1. Write down fewer things to do.
I always OVEREXTEND my to do list. I put things I need to do now and things I need to do in 5 months, so I don’t forget them. It doesn’t matter how I organize that to do list and how I break it down…when I see the 150 items there – I get overwhelmed, don’t do any of them and instead do something entirely different.
Therefore I now keep the huge list with all the things that cross my mind and sound like a good idea, somewhere “hidden” and make smaller lists for each day.
Those lists I keep in front of me, somewhere at my desk. This way I can really commit to the first task, then the second and then the third. I write about 5 things and try to finish them all.
2. Start with the most important one.
My sister gave me the 7 habits of highly effective people and I’m still on page 47 (I’m a super slow reader and not really ashamed of that). Still, I know in that book there’s a matrix somewhere that tells me to do the important thing first.
I try to do this every single day, mostly during my morning routine. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But whenever I do, I really don’t feel bad if I don’t finish all of my tasks for the day, because I’ve done the most important one.
3. Commit to finishing. (Huge)
Something I’ve struggled with a lot as a blogger was being consistent with my content. I would always write stuff and then leave them half-way done thinking I will come back to finish this soon.
I did this for 2 reasons: I wanted the article to be perfect and then in my head I didn’t really have the time to make it perfect. So I’d just jot down my ideas and run. Future me will know better, she’s perfect.
I never, ever returned to those articles. It felt like a punishment when I thought I needed to go back and try to finish them.
Things changed for the better when my goal became to actually start and finish an article in one sitting. Even if it’s just the draft. I’d give myself 30-40 minutes (max. 2 hours if it’s a very science-heavy article) to write from start to finish. My thought was way clearer and I was actually saying what I wanted to say, not just what I thought people wanted to hear.
I also found out, even if I give a million and one percent in my writing and invest more time, it won’t matter. I don’t like the articles I wrote in 3 days any better than the ones I finished in 30 minutes.
Committing to finishing in my opinion is key to staying focused.
4. WIFI Off
Even with all that commitment and matrix, whenever I have internet – I have distractions. I can work in a loud coffee shop, I can work when I have to pee, I can work when I’m hungry, but the internet has proven to be the toughest distraction “out there”.
So many easy solutions to all my freakin’ problems. Whenever I can’t find a word – google it and then search for a picture to go along, then check out my Pinterest profile, then check out this interesting post, and then it’s 6pm and I need to stop working.
My eyes are bleeding, but have I done much? Nope. Just “learned” some new things. This is especially true if you need to do research for one of your articles. There is SO MUCH INFORMATION OUT THERE! Even with science articles I get overwhelmed most of the time. It seems like with so much information, it somehow never is the right thing so I jump over to another one. It’s a complete mess.
What I do now is: turn WIFI off, put my phone aside and don’t look at it. And then I’m good.
I don’t check emails, I don’t check social media, I don’t check my stats every minute, I stop analyzing and comparing. I have no choice, but to actually work on what I have to work on right then and there. That’s when I write very fast and get so much done.
It works even better in a coffee shop, because I can’t go and just fix myself a sandwich when I seek distraction. I can be working like this for at least an hour. Which is 10 times longer than my usual attention span.
5. Make it a part of your routine.
I hear more and more: keep your eye on the why. Well, making your why a part of your daily routine, something like a friendly reminder (not one that will put pressure on you) is what can make you more focused on the right things.
There are many shiny objects out there, and if you’re like me and love exploring – you’d go after each and every one of them. But when you know your WHY, you will be pulled by the thing that really makes the most sense for you.
The one that’s in line with everything you believe, want and dream of. To me it’s a post-it on my computer that says why I want to do my best today is everything I need to stay focused that day.
I want you to know that I was just about to write this article the same way I write most of my articles: Outline it and forget about it.
Because we have to leave any minute, but I actually finished it in one sitting.
Staying focused is not that hard when you simply commit to getting it over with right then and there.
What do you do to stay focused? Any tips (as you can see, I NEED them!)