Focus On One Thing At A Time

imagesIf you are anything like me, you sometimes focus on too many things at once.  When you focus on too many things at once, usually nothing gets completed all the way through.   There will usually be a trail of unfinished projects if we continue on this way.

At one job I had a few years ago, I cleaned off my desk daily and only had the bare essentials on top of the desk.  The computer, my pen and whatever project I was working on.  I would not get out another project until I was finished with the one on the desk.  It worked so well.  That job allowed for this type of focus and concentration on one thing at a time.  I know some jobs do not.  I have had those jobs.  I think, however, that you can work towards focusing as much as possible on one thing at a time.

Here are some ways to help you stay focused and get more accomplished in your day.

1.  Plan your day ahead of time.  The day before, or the night before, plan out your day and the tasks you must complete.

2.  Do not overbook your time.  We tend to schedule way more than we could ever accomplish in a day.   This only adds to our frustration. 

3.  Set times for going through emails.  If you can focus on just going through emails once or twice a day, that allows you more time to focus on your to-do’s.  To help stay focused during the day and not be tempted to read emails, turn off any of the notifications you currently have set to tell you that you received email.  This will keep you on track and not tempt you to stop what you are doing and go read the email that just came in.  If you do that all day long, you will  be interrupted constantly and you will not be able to accomplish as many of your tasks.  You would be practicing LIFO – Last In, First Out.  That pushes all those projects you’ve had on your desk for a while further under the pile. Obviously there will be times you must reply to emergency emails, but really stop and think about how responsive you need to be.

4.  Filter your To-Do’s.  Go through your to-do list and really scrutinize each item on the list.   Look at your time and your most important goals.  Are all of the things on your task list contributing to those?  Or can you relieve yourself from a few obligations?  Are you putting more on you than you need to? I know I do this, so I find it very important to go back through my to-do list and look at it as my husband would.  He is my efficiency expert.  He points out so many to-do’s I take on that are not necessary.  It’s very freeing…give it a try.

5.  Set Appointments With Yourself.  Just like you set appointments for meetings and dr. appointments, set some appointments with yourself.  For instance, from 2-3pm I’m going to focus only on this project.   Then STICK TO IT.  That is the hard part, but you have to see the importance of these appointments with yourself.  They are extremely important when you want to accomplish the tasks on your list.

6.  If It’s Too Big Break It Up.  If a task or project is too big to do in one day, then break it up into little chunks and schedule the chunks into your day as if they are a project themselves.  If you need to send out some invitations, but you first have to pick out which ones you want to order, come up with the wording, then gather all of the address before hand addressing and taking the post office?  Then break those up and put “pick out invitations” on your to-do list for one day.  Once that piece is done, the next day during your project time put “work on the wording” to do during that time.  This creates manageable projects.  Sometimes we cannot do a complete project in one sitting or one day, but we CAN complete one more step of the project. 

The whole idea is to simplify your projects first, then assign a time to complete them, and most importantly stick to the time allotments you make for these projects.  Focusing on one thing at a time.  You WILL get through your list, and you will be much more focused.  It just takes some planning and effort.

Please let me know if you have any additional ideas or helpful hints to add.

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