Gaining focus when I'm feeling distracted

24 August 2017

Gaining focus when I'm feeling distractible

I’ve had a crazy busy couple of weeks working with clients. It’s been very rewarding, but it’s meant that some administrative tasks (and mess) have built up in my absence. When I came home after a long day, I did the bare minimum to keep my business running. Tasks like working on Quickbooks and putting away papers fell by the wayside.

I’m thrilled to have a two whole days at my desk this week (today and tomorrow) and a light client load next week. It’s after 3 pm and while I have created some order, not a whole lot else has been accomplished. I’m particularly distractible today—I’m finding myself bouncing from small task to small task and website to website. I have a task list, but I’m not exactly plowing through it.

When this happens, I know that it’s time to pull out my secret weapon: My timer. I know from experience that when I set my timer for just a few minutes—as little as five minutes—I get stuff done. I like playing beat the clock, and knowing the clock is ticking in the background tends to keep me focused.

Once the timer goes off, I pick a new task (or keep going on what I’m working on) and set the timer again. I find on days like this, I’ll get a lot more done in five five-minute bursts followed by a five-minute break than I will if I set the timer for 30 minutes.

My other big challenge this month is get some writing done. My writing projects include a promised guest post for Unclutterer, an article for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, and my own organizing guides, not to mention posts for both my blogs. I had hoped to get the non-blog writing finished this month and suddenly the end of the month is just a week away.

I have high hopes that I’ll have a productive writing week next week, but if that’s going to happen, I need to get started now. So today I made a list of the writing I hope to accomplish in the next week and what the priorities are.

Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, and I’d like to start on the first piece today. That’s where my timer comes into play. I know which article I want to work on. Once I publish this blog post, I’m going to set a timer for 15 minutes, with the plan to do two 15-minute bursts. Then I’ll call it a day for writing. I know that having started today will make it easier to keep going tomorrow.

So on these days when my problem isn’t that I don’t have enough time but rather that I don’t have enough focus, I pull out these handy tools:

  • My task list: I break the projects down into tiny tasks. (I keep my list in Evernote.)
  • My timer: I decide what I want to work on, then set a timer for a tiny amount of time.
  • Some breaks: When my timer goes off, I allow myself to take a break, then, if need be, I’ll shift focus after the break to keep me engaged.
  • I get started without worrying about finishing.
  • I set an end time to the work day. On open-ended days like today, I can get more done if I decide what time the work day will end. That throws al little urgent into the equation. Today, I’ve decided to end the day by 5:30.
  • Dangle a reward. I’ve already decided that I’m going to stream a movie when I’m through with my work day.

Now it’s 4 pm. I could beat myself up over my lack of productivity today. Instead, I’m going to give myself a little productivity boost and set myself up for great success tomorrow by creating a great, detailed task list to the start the day with.

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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