Monday, January 12, 2009

Ask the organiser - how do you stay focussed?

My biggest struggle is to keep focused. I start one thing and go to another. Plus the phone and computer waste a lot of my time.

Thanks for your input.
Mary Coalson

Here's my answer

Mary, you are not alone! In fact, I also naturally have a problem staying focussed and yet this is my top productivity tip so I have a few tricks I use which I'm happy to share with you:

1. Eat the frog
I choose only a few things to do every day but I make sure they're important tasks that will move me toward my goals. And here's the important part, I do nothing else til those tasks are done. And then I reward myself.

Some days (like weekends) it's as simple as laundry, cooking and getting us set up for the week ahead and on the weekdays it could be working on an important work project.

I'm hosting a Big Juicy Goals teleseminar tomorrow so one of my big things tomorrow will be preparation for that teleseminar.

2. Remove distractions
Different things distract different sorts of people. I'm not too bothered by the phone because I simply turn mine to silent and check messages and voicemail when I feel like it (once or twice a day, when those Eat the Frog tasks are complete :))

Email, however, is a big problem for me. I'm insanely curious so I have to close down Outlook and have nothing else open on my computer except the task at hand.

3. Use a timer
No need to get fancy; a simple kitchen timer will do. When I'm at work, I can't really use a kitchen timer (because then they'll know I'm weird, instead of just suspecting :)) so I use the timer on my cell phone.

Set the timer for a realistic time but not so long that you can't concentrate. I like to work in 3 X 15-minute blocks and then I take a break unless I'm so close to finishing that I might as well work one extra block of time.

Over to you, dear readers - how do you stay focussed?


Anne Alagna said...

Focus? What is that?!?! =D

I have always worked jobs that involve multi-tasking. Phones ringing, customers walking in, emails requiring response within 15 minutes.

And at home I have 4 kids. Laundry to do, dishes to wash, children to parent, emergencies (cuts, bruises, broken bones), friends dropping by and, for many years, business run from home.

I can focus... at midnight when everyone else is in bed. Otherwise I live by my to-do list... and the way I mark off tasks in process or completed as well as the note pad where I purge my thoughts as they jump out (often in the middle of other things). When returning to my tasks, I reference the lists and notes to find where I left off and start on the top priority task as remaining time allows.

I have embraced the multi-tasking necessities in my life. I try to impliment time-efficient habits to streamline the tasks and keep as on-track as possible. This might include things as simple as taking everything with me that needs to be where I am going (rather than making extra trips) or as complex as cooking 4 different things at a time to save time later in the month.

I do my planning at the end of the night when all is quiet. I mind-dump, organize my planner for the next day, declutter all the rooms, read and take notes (no other way to remember), and blog.

I often hear "I dont know how you do it, Anne." I dont really know either... I just know that it happens and mostly, it works.

Organize Room said...

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that one out. When it comes to “focused” as in motivated I use something fun to motivate me thru the not so fun stuff…like taking surfing lessons to motivate me to get in shape. It’s working.

I guess I could just apply that to my every day life…So what fun would motivate me to get organized…or at least organize the office….hum…perhaps a day of art because I will then will have a nice peaceful room to do them in.

Thanks for getting me thinking and a little more focused =)