“Success demands singleness of purpose.” ~Vincent Lombardi
Some days I’m totally on top of things, focused and centered and productive. I love those days–I get things done and when the day is over, I feel accomplished and positive.
Then there are the days when I’m scattered and randomly jumping from task to task without any real focus. Those days are less enjoyable, and even though I “get a lot done,” I don’t actually feel like I’ve accomplished much–and I often find myself feeling guilty. That doesn’t feel good.
It feels good to get things done, to be intentionally focused on not only what needs to be done, but also on what I want to do. It feels good to accomplish what I set out to accomplish, to meet my daily goals–which always lead toward the more long-term goals. And feeling good and accomplishing my goals is a sure-fire way to bring more positive things into my life.
So how do we find focus when we have one of those scattered days?
One Step at a Timer
I don’t know about you, but I tend to multi-task nearly all the time. However, on those scattered days, I feel the need to stop and focus on only one task at a time. Maybe that’s because when I’m feeling scattered, I’m far more easily distracted.
I find that setting a timer for a specific amount of time and forcing myself to focus on a single task makes a big difference. Even five minutes can be enough to shake off that scattered feeling and get back into a focused mindset.
Clear the Clutter to Clear Your Mind
The feeling of being scattered goes right along with a cluttered work area or home. When I’m feeling that way, sometimes just clearing off my desk or tidying up around the house is enough to help me change my mind.
When our living and working spaces our cluttered, we’re bound to feel mentally cluttered too. Even just clearing off a single table top or shining your kitchen sink can make all the difference in the world.
Just Do It Already
A lot of times, when I’m feeling unfocused, I procrastinate or distract myself with busy work. Then, I find myself staying up late into the night to meet my deadlines or finish up my projects. (I’ll admit, sometimes the late nights are a direct result of just plain being busy–but other times, they could be avoided!)
So, when I feel myself procrastinating, just forcing myself to BEGIN doing the task is enough to get me back on track. Even if I’m not feeling it when I get started, I eventually find my groove and keep on keeping on.
Take a Break
Ok, I realize this sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out. If you’re anything like me, sometimes the fact that you have things to do can cause you to become paralyzed, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. So, while taking a break may seem like it would slow your productivity, the opposite is actually true–at least for me.
If I find myself feeling frustrated or unfocused, a fifteen minute break away from my desk can sometimes be all I need to develop a fresh perspective. Sometimes it’s just doing a mindless activity like watching a little TV or walking around the block, and other times it’s talking with one of my family member or friends. And sometimes, it’s just about being still and quiet and not thinking about anything at all.
The point is that if I take a quick break, I come back refreshed and ready to get things done–while if I skip the break, I might waste even more time by remaining unfocused.
This might seem obvious. But if you’re anything like me, planning may not come naturally to you. What I find effective is to sit down at the end of my work day and look at what I’ve got going on for the next day. I’ll check my calendar for appointments, check my list of assignments and tasks and then I set up a priority list for the next day.
I decide what MUST be done, then what I would like to get done. I set up a really basic plan of attack for the next day, and then I make a point of sticking to it as much as possible. Of course, things come up and priorities change–but having a basic plan for the day can still mean the difference between being focused and being scattered. You might be surprised how significantly a simple plan can change your perspective and increase your focus.
So, how about you? What do you do to get back on track when you find yourself losing focus or feeling scattered? Tell me in the comments!