How to stay focused?
How do you focus when you are constantly distracted, constantly have people, places and problems pulling at your attention?
Simple answer is you can’t.
It’s hard to keep on track if you don’t actually have a track to follow.
There’s never going to be that moment where the stars align and the heavens shine down and light the way; a voice from above isn’t going to call out to tell you when, you just have to go for it. If you believe, if you have 100% conviction, if you have the determination and drive, you’ll get there no matter what the target is.
There will never be the perfect time to do anything. There will however, be opportunities where everything is more-or-less in the right place and/or time. This is as close to perfect as you’ll get. It’s in this moment when you need to stop making excuses, stop procrastinating, stop putting others first.
No more excuses. No matter what is going on in life it’s important to remember to always make time for you.
If you have distractions pulling at you from all angles take a deep breath and prioritise. Give yourself adequate time to get through the list of things to do, people to deal with, places to be. Don’t rush, there is always time.
But most importantly, put yourself at the top of that list.
Even if it’s not at number 1, keep it top 5. Always keep in mind your own well-being, needs and mental health.
When you need time in your day for you, take it, even if it’s just 5 minutes, take it. Have a seat and just breathe, have a cup of tea or do something productive for yourself.
You’ll feel much more accomplished and fulfilled at the end of the day. You might feel like you have 100 different jobs on at the same time and they’ll still be there after your break, your coffee, your nap or your workout but you’ll feel much better prepared to tackle them head on.
How to Deal with Distractions?
Distractions will occur; the best way to deal with them is to be prepared for when they do.
Learn to recognise the difference between a real task and a simple distraction. Combine tasks and plan routes with stop off points to complete multiple tasks in one trip, this will save you time that you can dedicate to yourself later.
Get your workout in before or after the school runs. If you can walk the kids to school take your time walking back and don’t rush.
If you have back to back meetings all day, make sure you fit in meal breaks and don’t have ‘working lunches’. How are you going to concentrate and perform at 100% if you are tired, lethargic or hangry?! Hungry people make bad decisions.
If you take your children to after school clubs take a book, cross-stitch, knit a jumper, write a journal, call someone you haven’t seen in a while and catch up. You can get something out of this experience too; your children aren’t the only ones who can benefit from extracurricular activities, you can use this seemingly wasted time productively for yourself. You can even write out your job list for the following day and prioritise it, plan out your day ready.
When we were young my brother and I went for recorder lessons, my mum used to sit there writing out the shopping list and planning out the meals for the following week. I always remember thinking her list looked odd; there were items grouped on several different rows all over the paper – the different rows represented the different aisles. She used to write her list so she could follow a specific route around the supermarket and get the shopping done as efficiently as possible. When you’re shopping for 6 it’s never going to be quick but she found a way to limit distractions during here visits.
When she explained her list method to me I thought she was a genius, so much wasted time was saved. She always had a nice sit down at lunch and spent time reading a book before starting the job list for the afternoon.
At the end of every working day, I write down my list of compulsory jobs for the following day. I then add a section for “if I have time” jobs, these are less important, non-priority things that would be nice to get done but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t manage it that day. It’s OK to not complete 100% of your list every day – this is why we prioritise.
I always used to punish myself if I didn’t complete my ‘to do’ list everyday. I always beat myself up about it and used to get so worked up about the extra amount I then had to complete the next day. This was never going to be possible either as I used to cram so much into my days that I had zero chance of success anyway.
I’ve learnt now to plan ahead to succeed. Winning occasionally is by far a much happier experience than losing time and time again.
If you think a job will take you an hour, give yourself an hour and a half, that way you can plan in contingency time and when you finish early it feels like a massive win! You can then either take some time out or move on to the next task and bank up some free time for later.
I’ve found this a much more productive method; it also means that if a distraction is thrown at me, I don’t panic so much that I don’t have time for it. If it’s not deemed a priority then I can add to tomorrow’s task list and assign it the time it requires.
If the distraction is a priority then add to the top of your current list. If you can, finish the task at hand before moving on to it, obviously this isn’t always going to be possible and if this is the case write some quick notes about the job you were on – about what you were doing, where you were, what still needs to be done etc. then when you come back to it, you can jump straight in without delays.
If you have 10 things to do, don’t make them all a priority! Have three priority tasks maximum and then list the rest in order of what would be nice to get done but remember its ok not to get that far that day. This gives you a much better opportunity to slot in any distractions.
If it all gets a little overwhelming, take a step back and a deep breath.
Remember, you’ve got this.
You’re stronger than you think.