Even if we have a detailed plan and a lot of motivation to get things done we might find it hard to concentrate when we suddenly get a text message from a friend, an urgent work-related email, or a Facebook notification. One click leads to another, and before we know it we completely lose track of time.
This has happened to me a lot when I started this blog and had to juggle ten or more tasks at the same time. I jumped back and forth between replying to emails, searching for new information, thinking about promotion strategies and in the midst of it all had to find some time to write. At the end of the day I would end up with a dozen of half-finished tasks, not a single one fo them done the proper way. In this post I would like to share some tips that helped me to overcome distractions and focus on a few important tasks.
#1. Set clear priorities. The first thing we should do is to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” We have to consider what importance does this task have to our overall goals in life. Sometimes we have tasks on our lists just because we put it there automatically, without giving it a second thought. This results in long, disorganized lists that never really get done.
#2. Choose most important tasks for the day. We should identify key pieces of the puzzle and apply the question from the first rule to all items in the list. How do they measure to our current top priority? Can these pieces fit together and help us move forward? We should be able to see clearly which do and which don’t. So putting irrelevant tasks aside we end up with three or five most important tasks for the day that we write down and put somewhere visible so they always remind us of what we should do.
#3. Break down each task into its basic components. This is a necessary step that will allow us to take one small step at a time. This simple change will ground us in the present moment and we will stop thinking about the outcome. Each tiny leap forward will be seem light and natural.
#4. Design our environment for maximum efficiency. We need to eliminate such distractions as email notifications, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. We need to be wary of even such simple things as several browser tabs that we habitually keep open at the same time to access links, articles, and forums. By getting rid of all these things we create a breathing room for clear thinking, focus, and productive work.
#5. Be accountable. Sometimes it can be hard to do everything on our own, so involving others can be a great help and motivator to get things done. For example, we can share with someone our intention to get something done in a certain amount of time. It can be our family member, a partner, or best friend. Sharing our intention with someone else creates accountability that can help us keep our focus and get through even the most challenging tasks.
#6. Be aware of the need to switch from one task to another right in the middle of the process. Something else may seem more urgent and demand our immediate attention. At that moment, it’s important not to fight that feeling. Just acknowledge it, stay with it for a while, and continue with our current task.
#7. Reward ourselves for the job well done. Just as it’s important to finish the task, it’s equally important to acknowledge the effort we put into getting everything done. We should refrain from rushing to the next thing and let the feeling of accomplishment flow through our bodies and let it energize us from within.
We spend our days controlled by our schedule and unending tasks, projects, work meetings, personal arrangements, and deadlines. It’s time to stop letting outer circumstances affect our well-being and take a conscious pause, step back, and concentrate on what’s really important in our lives. Once we do that, every action we take will flow naturally from our inner state of presence and clear perspective. As a supplement I created a free worksheet available from the link below.