You wake up in the morning with the best of intentions. Your “to do” list is going to finally get cleaned up today! You’ve cleared your calendar, and you are focused and ready to go. When this day is done, you plan to celebrate with a nice, delicious dinner and a favorite movie. You love your peaceful life.
You get out of bed, grab some breakfast, and get ready to work. But first, you wonder what’s going on with social media, so you just want to check your notifications. You check them and then, of course, you need to check the news feed while you’re there.
Okay, now let’s get down to work – but first you really need that extra cup of coffee – after all there is a lot to do on your list. You get your coffee and enjoy that wonderful aroma, and take a few sips as you think about the coffee shop you visited last week and the great coffee they served.
You look at the time, put down the coffee, and get ready to get to work. Then the phone rings and it’s your friend – and you just can’t hang up, you know – you have to listen. Pretty soon, it’s afternoon and the list is still where it was when you woke up this morning. So much for today’s plans, and so much for today’s peace.
No matter how focused you are, how much you plan and prepare, some days, it’s impossible not to get distracted. Life can get in the way of your plans, but it doesn’t have to derail you. Here are some expert tips on how to stay on track, no matter what else is happening around you.
It’s easier to focus if you’re not distracted by the small, daily tasks. Commit to a nightly practice of preparing for the next day and deciding what to wear, what to have for lunch, and the other necessary things that are part of your routine. Have your gym bag ready and packed so you can just pick it up and go.
It can help to get organized for your week on a Sunday evening. For example, have all your work clothes clean and pressed and ready to wear. You might even consider a minimalist work wardrobe of similar garments to mix and match. You can also bulk cook and freeze meals so that you don’t even think about suppers during the week.
Do the hard tasks first
You can free up a lot of mental energy by putting the difficult tasks and decisions at the top of your to-do list. Do the hardest tasks when your brain is still fresh first thing in the morning, then you can get on with your day knowing you’ve made some real progress.
The same applies to the mundane things you don’t really like to do. Safe the fun stuff for last. That way you are more motivated to get the boring stuff out of the way instead of put it off.
Pay attention to your energy
You might be surprised to hear that fatigue can be a distraction. If your energy is low, you won’t be performing at your best, so make sure you plan to take some regular breaks. Get outside if at all possible and get some fresh air. Eat your lunch in the park and give your eyes a break from looking at a screen.
Your energy is affected by so many different things. The amount of restful sleep you get on a regular basis will help your energy stay high. Physical activity and healthy nutrition also play a huge role in keeping your energy at a high level. Eat lots of fresh foods and stay hydrated by drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods as much as possible.
Almost every day we are inundated with requests from all different places. They take time to sort through and can distract you from your core goals. Instead of responding right away, decide on how urgent the request is in the bigger scheme of things. Do you really need to take the time from what your are doing to answer that phone call, question, or email right now?
Learn to prioritize requests and respond accordingly. Delegate tasks to someone else who may have more time or expertise in that area if that is an option. Let people know if you are busy and ask them not to interrupt unless it cannot wait until you have completed your more pressing tasks. It may be difficult at first, but set boundaries so that you can accomplish the things that really matter at the end of the day.
Stay focused on the end result
What is your big picture? There are so many distractions in modern life that it can be easy to lose sight of what you want to achieve. Whether it’s a dream board, a mission statement, or a post-it note on your computer, have a visual reminder of what you’re working toward.
Don’t let life’s distractions let you forget where you are going. Check-in every day to see how you’re doing. Ask yourself if you are on track with your personal and professional goals. Know your purpose, and make sure you keep a line of sight on living it out. “Keep your eye on the prize, and press on to the goal.”
The Key is to Keep Going
No matter how many distractions try to get in the way, don’t give up. It’s difficult at times, but know that you are capable and you can get things accomplished. Use the tips above to help stay focused, and if life does get in the way, do the best you can with it. Give yourself some grace if the list doesn’t get totally finished. Be thankful for the progress that you did make, being ready to give it another shot tomorrow.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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