|Posted on 30 January, 2017 at 15:20|
‘Time to Focus’
Yesterday was a peculiar day for me, It started out great, I had my plan although a little scattered and unstructured but I pretty much knew what I wanted to do and indeed I even had a surge of excitement on what I thought I'd complete on my 'To do' list.
I went out for my morning walk, had breakfast, opened the laptop along with my diary, notebook, and mobile to hand and bottle of water, there, everything in place to start on my list.
The first thing on my list is to check emails, sure enough there were dozens of junk mail as usual and social media from the usual sources that seem to live on Facebook, you know the ones! I quickly delete them without a thought of even attempting to read. With the junk out the way I sieve through responding to what is important and proceed in the same manner onto my next email account (many of us have more than one!)
One of the emails led me to a video which I watched with interest, it was on personal development and anything to do with that area usually grabs my interest. Anyway after viewing the video I was drawn to watch another from the same person...... as you know once the video is watched on YouTube it generally follows another with the same person, topic or similar.
To cut it short I found I literally spent the whole morning until 1pm in the afternoon (when my stomach told me it was time to be fed) watching videos and although they were uplifting, I got absolutely nothing done but one thing ticked off on my list of seven, which was checking my emails! Sure enough it was only the afternoon and I had hours left to get focused on my list, but for the life of me I could not channel my thoughts back to work and the tasks in hand.
I came to realise as we live in a time of technology there are distractions at every turn, if it's not a mobile buzzing, emails pinging or social media messages firing up the PC screen, it's really quite easy to get distracted. Sometimes we let our curiosity get the better of us when someone or a group you're interested in sends a message and you take a look with the intention that it'll only take a few minutes to read, and true enough a few minutes may not seem like a big deal but in actual fact leaving a FOCUSED state to answer an email for example, impacts negatively because you then have to mentally attempt to get back the flow and this takes time - something that you can never get back.
Worse still the distraction leads you to more distractions as with my day yesterday.
Leaving your phone on silent, automating your social media, checking emails at set times for example first thing and late afternoon can help eliminate distractions and help keep you on track on your daily plans.
Set yourself a timetable (especially when you are self-employed and work from home) give yourself 10-15 minute breaks (and that means away from your desk, having coffee and a biscuit at your desk is NOT having a break!) every 2 hours or so for example, it takes an awful lot of discipline to focus on one thing and not multi-task, but the habit will eventually reap great returns.
Here are some benefits of being FOCUSED
- You will actually gain more time by being more productive, allowing more time for yourself at the gym, going for a run, instead of playing catch up into the late hours with work on the PC.
- Gives you a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day/week as you tick of everything on your 'To Do' list. There isn’t anything more satisfying than getting everything done and perhaps even adding more things you didn't plan to do but now had time.
- Energy levels remain high as you balance focus time with short energy breaks.
Prior to getting FOCUSED on what you want to achieve for the day/week you need to get clear on WHY you need to, or have to get these tasks done.
Your why will be your motivator, once you know this you can measure your motivation to do what is needed, for example on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is not the slightest bit motivated and 10 is jumping in the air with excitement, pinpoint where your motivation level is, if it's below 8 you might struggle to get that laser like FOCUS you need to get the work done, as it doesn't excite you, so think about what it would take to be a 9 or 10, visualise it and get it done!
Plan - Don't just hope the day will map out itself, map it out but also be a little flexible, plan your breaks as well as the focus time and leave some flexi time in your day for the unexpected or if something takes longer than expected. Plan with your WHY in mind adds to the excitement of a great day ahead, not every task will be your favourite but try and link it with your why then you'll find the momentum to get it done.
Plan your downtime too, this will help you stay focused in the chunks of time you have set aside for work, knowing you also have time set aside for other important things such as family, activity, socialising. A good example of this is involving family in a task/chore you plan to do for that day such as cooking the dinner - get the kids involved so you spend quality time and educational time together they learn to cook and will appreciate the food more too! Your downtime could be a walk in the park or a bike ride or meditation; again this can be done with family.
Commit - make a decision to work smartly, decide to get more done in less time, if you have a team delegate work, if you don't have a team again involving family to perhaps do some of the household chores on your list, whilst you get on with some research for instance that is what being productive is about, that is the essence of time management
Work with your attention span, break it down into small chunks of focus time with mini breaks as mentioned before, it can make all the difference. We are not good at working for hours on end (generally speaking) we lose intensity and consequently FOCUS. Better to do things in short sharpe blocks, re-energising your body and mind in the mini breaks, than to work and work flat out, you will not only feel tired and drained but the quality of your work may show evidence of it being rushed.
Maximise your energy peaks, if the morning is your best time, take advantage of this and plan to do the most demanding tasks at that time. Putting the energy into your focus will yield amazing results.
Your network of close contacts, the people you either do business with closely or even family and close friends, let them know your availability. It's so easy for others who know you are self-employed and use your home office to assume they can call anytime which even means knocking your door. Many few people like to offend loved ones, clients, business associates; however it's up to you to put boundaries in place to safeguard your time. Let them know when you will be unavailable and most importantly 'Stick to it'. Once you give that time away, it's gone and you can get caught up in endless conversation losing focus completely, be honest with yourself and others.
One last thing - YOUR TIME! Find sometime for you and you alone, as mentioned before you may choose to do some downtime with the family, but sometime must be spent alone get in touch with you, be mindful, listen to internal chatter, focus on your senses and how you are feeling and be self-aware, emotional intelligence - it's not all about work and it will help you to grow in understanding and love with yourself.
Above all stay FOCUSED, keep smiling, it's amazing how contagious your smile is!
Have a fabulous day.
Sandra Joseph - CEO - www.clubladyday.co.uk