Getting focused is half the battle when it comes to getting things done.
It is important to start with the use of targeted tools to get into a productive mindset. A paper planner or digital app for planning is an excellent starting point for scheduling and honing in on priorities. If your planner is sitting in a corner unused or if you’ve been planning on using your calendar app more effectively, then set aside time today to start planning again.
Another, often neglected tool, is the physical space that surrounds us as we work or go about our day. Take the time to set up an area with no distractions or clutter to work from. Create a space that is a pleasure for you to enter and work in so you can focus effectively on your plan of action. If you’re spending time at home in different areas, try to give yourself time for a quick de-clutter in each area so you’re not overwhelmed by any of the spaces you spend time in.
Once you have your planner in hand and a cleared work space then start with the creation and the implementation of your action plan for the day.
To get focused and into “action” mode, consider using the following 8 strategies to get what you need to done:
- Start with a brain dump. Title a blank piece of paper “Brain Dump”. Then, write down absolutely everything that is bothering you, blocking you, that needs to be done, and that seems overwhelming at the moment.
- Analyze. Circle the biggest, most bothersome items on the list above and figure out what bothers you most about those tasks.
- Identify your top goal for the day and decide to work on that first. Ask yourself – what do I need to do the most? This might be different than your most bothersome or seemingly most important task on paper. Sometimes there is more stress and emotion attached to what may appear to be a trivial task than an “important” one. It can be useful to unpack that to figure out what what your priorities are and help break through any overwhelm or procrastination.
- Identify your secondary priorities for the day and list them out in order of importance.
- Figure out the smallest task you can complete to progress on your top priority without getting overwhelmed. All these tiny steps forward add up if your top priority goal seems particularly overwhelming. As you complete each small task, you will start to gain momentum and get into that feeling of being in a “flow state”.
- Start and then finish. Start working on that small task and don’t stop until you’re done. Repeat step 5 and continue until you are finished with your top goal for the day. Then, move on to your next priorities.
- Keep checking in with yourself: If you’re gaining momentum, keep going. If not, take a short break to recharge whenever you feel stuck or overwhelmed. Make it a timed break so you know that you are still focused on accomplishing your goals for the day.
- Set a clear boundary for when you’ll finish for the day. That way you’ll have a clear end in sight.
Having a system that works for getting into flow when you’re distracted is helpful for getting back to center when things seem off kilter. Don’t let one bad situation or day affect you the next day as well – go right back to a process that works for you and get back to focusing on your priorities in a positive, productive way.
If you haven’t read these yet, here are 2 more posts on reducing distractions and developing clear goals: