“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.
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!
I don’t know about you, but my life gets pretty busy sometimes. I’m not complaining, mind you, but I’ve got three beautiful kids, a wonderful husband, a career, pets…a home…jobs…friends…well, we all play plenty of roles in life.
Since I find myself so busy sometimes, I don’t get a lot of “quiet time,” as I’m sure you might imagine. And since I’m the sort of person who kind of needs a little quiet time each day, I often find that time by staying up late into the night, well after the family has gone to bed.
Some nights, I’m working. Other nights, I’m watching a favorite show on DVR–just so I can watch from beginning to end without interruption. Sometimes, I just don’t do anything at all. It’s all about having time to just breathe and be quiet.
So, that’s great, right?
Yeah, except that, in the process of trying to fulfill my need for quiet time, I’m cheating myself of something else that could potentially have a very serious impact on my happiness.
Because, of course, even though I stay up till the wee hours of the morning–I’m also a mom. And moms? They don’t get to sleep in.
So, what’s the big deal about sleep?
Well, besides the fact that lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your health–like increasing your risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer–lack of sleep has been proven to have a profoundly negative effect on your mood and overall level of happiness.
Studies suggest that even adding one hour of sleep to your nightly schedule could improve your happiness quotient more significantly than a $60,000 annual raise–and that one of the top two reasons people find themselves in a bad mood at work was a poor night’s sleep.
And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, companies lose around $35 billion every year in loss of productivity, sick leave, medical expenses, and property and environmental damage–all thanks to their employees’ sleep deprivation. And the consequences some people face are even worse.
So what does all this mean?
Well, for me, it means I’ve got a conundrum here. I need quiet time, and I need to sleep. Yet, I have kids and a happily busy schedule during my waking hours. So this means that I need to figure out a way to get more sleep and still find time for myself.
“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.” – John Schaar
Life is full of surprises. In an average day, we all encounter a seemingly endless number of unexpected events can occur that might create stress, worry, and frustration.
But instead of letting these negative emotions take over, what if you were to make a conscious decision to have a great day?
Try these techniques to bring joy to each day:
Use self-suggestion.First thing in the morning, make a conscious decision to have a great day. As you’re brushing your teeth, look yourself in the eye. Tell yourself, “I’m going to have a great day,” and mean it. This is your chance to set yourself up for a fantastic day, whether you’ll be with your family, at work, or hanging out with friends.
Empower yourself. You’re taking controlof what might have turned into a negative situation when you decide to allow events to just roll on by and not affect you adversely. Take the bull by the horns and state to yourself what you will and won’t do in a challenging situation.
Own your mood. Refuse to allow someone or something other than yourself to ruin your day.When you do this, you’re saying “no” to negativity. You’re taking a stand. When you’re resolved in this way, your healthy stubbornness will ensure you have a great day.
Recognize what really matters. When you encounter a challenging situation, prompt yourself to see the bigger picture. If one part of a project isn’t going well, identify that you’ve been in similar circumstances before and will most likely be in them again someday. Know, however, that such situations don’t last, and easy times will come again, too.
Remind yourself of the positive.Remember that you still have other things to do today and the trying situation isn’t the only event you’ll encounter. Before the day is out, you might win the lottery or get that promotion you’ve wanted. Or maybe all the traffic lights will be green on your way home. Whether big or small, positive things are likely to happen today.
Consider a challenging event as an adventure. When you look back, you’ll find that many prior situations that you were initially disappointed in turned out to be great opportunities for you. Shift your paradigm from “Oh, this is bad” to “This could be interesting.”
Discover the silver lining. What are the positives about a trying situation? You may feel challenged at first to find something positive about a difficult occurrence. However, with some practice, this will become easier. You’ll eventually be able to identify what the real beauty of the tough event is.
When life gets you down,you always have a choice. You can either let yourself be completely overtaken with the weight of your challenge or decide to have a great day.
Turn negative situations into adventures and seek the silver lining in every challenging event. You have all the power you need within you to make your life as enjoyable as you want it to be!
Did you ever have one of those days when you’ve got like fifty-bazillion things to do and yet all you seem to get done is updating your Facebook status and maybe a shower, if you’re lucky?
I’ve been there. Who hasn’t?
From the outside, it might just look like you’re procrastinating, but in reality, it feels a little more like being paralyzed, am I right?
Well, here’s a tip that might just help you to move past that whole “feeling so overwhelmed that I can’t do a single thing” issue. I hope you’re sitting down for this one, because it is seriously going to blow your mind.
Just do SOMETHING. Pick one thing on your list, even something tiny and easy, and start doing it. Don’t stop until you’re finished. Maybe this is something small–like, I don’t know, a blog post. Or maybe it’s something bigger, like finally organizing your kitchen cabinets. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just do one thing.
When you’re done, look at what you’ve done and pat yourself on the back. You have just ended the vicious cycle of procrastination and paralyisis, and you are on your way to getting back on the productive horse.
Who knew it could be so easy?
And, once you’ve got your juices flowing, do one more thing. And so on.
I know, this all sounds positively basic and simple–but every now and then, we all need someone to tell us, as Nike once did, to Just Do It.
So, enough procrastination. Enough paralysis. Just do SOMETHING. Are you with me?
What are your best tips for avoiding procrastination and paralysis when you’ve got a fifty-bazillion things to do? Tell me in the comments!
I’m not one of these people who blindly follows celebrities just because everyone else does, and I’m not generally one to even think too hard about anything a celebrity does. I’m not into the reality shows (with the exception of American Idol, of course), and in general, I’m not even a big TV watcher. I’m busy, you know. 🙂
Prepare yourselves, I’m about to get a little dramatic here*, if you hadn’t already guessed. 🙂
The drama begins…
The rare celeb who causes me to behave in a typical fan-like manner should feel honored (you know, in a world where a celeb could possibly know each of his or her fans personally). At the very least, I consider these few special celebs worthy of note.
If you’ve been following this site, you know very well that Oprah is one of those few who make the cut in my book.
So yesterday morning, as I was checking the day’s news while getting ready to start my workday, I saw something that made my heart jump.
She was here.
In St. Louis. The one and only Oprah Winfrey. Just miles from my home.
I couldn’t believe it.
One of my favorite idols was in my town, and as I feverishly began to figure out how I was going to get everything on my ‘to-do’ list done and sneak myself downtown to see her in a rare local appearance, I clicked on the “get tickets here” kind of button with excitement and anticipation…I was really, truly going to see OPRAH WINFREY!
And, they had recently added a second show. I couldn’t believe the luck.
But then it happened. I saw two of the most awful words a fan could see.
And logically, I knew that I couldn’t expect to get into any Oprah-bearing event at the last moment. But logic didn’t make it any better.
On the plus side, at least I could watch it on TV. (It’s waiting for me on my DVR, but I could also watch it online, if I want.)
I have been a fan of Oprah’s Lifeclasses since they were first announced, and I am super excited to see this life-changing show continuing to grow. If you’re not watching it already, I suggest you check it out. If you’ve got cable, you can get the episodes on demand in many areas, along with many other enlightening OWN shows.
My heart will go on, I guess, but I gotta say it.
Hey Oprah, next time you’re in town, let’s do lunch. 🙂 Or, I’ll sit in a crowded audience and soak up your awesomeness. Either way. Just lemme know. 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I was genuinely disappointed that I missed the opportunity to see my favorite Oprah, this post is mostly written tongue-in-cheek. But Oprah, if you’re reading this, I’d really be up for that lunch thing. Just saying.
Oprah Winfrey Pays a Visit To Sweetie Pies In St. Louis(fox2now.com)