The is a snapshot of my brain right now:
Social media, WhatsApp messages, clients wanting immediate responses, a list of 100 vendors I need to email, that colleague talking about the latest donut place that has just opened up… ooh something shiny!
It’s SO hard to focus and get things done with all of the noise that surrounds us. Especially for those of us who have minds that like to wander anyway. We end up becoming reactive instead of proactive and productive.
So, how do we become more focused and efficient?
1.Time block your tasks
Start how you mean to go on. Want to have productive, organised day where you feel like you are on top of things? You’re going to need a plan for success.
Take 7 minutes in the morning to plan out the day ahead. Don’t just think about your to-dos or write a list. Allocate time slots. Plunk your tasks into Google calendar. Treat each time slot like an appointment to keep you on schedule and avoid procrastination.
This is probably the most valuable piece of advice about procrastination I’ve ever been given.
Seriously, it works.
Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself to do something because right now it’s easier to watch youtube clips of pandas or it’s more comfortable to take a nap on the sofa. We’re thinking about how completing that task is going to be boring or not fun or it might be hard. We have negative thoughts and feelings about doing it.
Stop focusing on how you feel about completing the task right now. Start thinking about how you’ll feel once it’s done. Once you’ve hit send on that proposal to a client or once you’ve hit inbox zero. Imagine yourself in that situation.
Master procrastinators like myself tend to think about the immediate pain of completing a task and often the guilt we also feel for having avoided it. Once we start focusing on how great we’ll feel once it’s completed, motivation suddenly starts to go up.
3. Set a timer
This is a tip that The Simplifier’s CEO – Mary Baird Wilcock uses a lot especially in team meetings to keep us on schedule. When it comes to independent work, she suggested I try the Pomodoro technique. It’s fairly straightforward with the basic rule being that you set a timer to 25 minutes, focus on work until the timer rings and then take a 5 minute break.
It takes a bit of practice but it can have a huge improvement on your time management and productivity. Personally I found that I had to adjust the length of the work and break times slightly but it’s definitely worth trying out!
4. Forget about multi-tasking
Focus on one thing at a time. Give it your full attention and you’ll get it done faster and to a higher standard.
If you find ideas or thoughts keep interrupting you, write them down in a notebook dedicated to random thoughts and things you want to remember. It gets them out of your head and back on track.
5. Make your space a distraction-free zone
No TV, No FaceBook, No Instagram, No email, No phone. Nothing that isn’t directly necessary for the task you’re focused on. This is especially true if you’re working from home. I can’t even listen to music with words because it makes me want to dance – even at my desk!
Don’t forget to clear your desk. clear desk = clear mind. Put away anything that might distract you. The space around you can have a huge psychological impact. Do yourself a favour and set yourself up for success by giving yourself the best space possible for your productivity.