If you’re like me, being scatterbrained comes naturally. I have to fight to stay focused on anything. It’s not that I’m being lazy or irresponsible, it’s just that my mind is constantly churning with ideas, thoughts, to-do lists, goals, shoulda-woulda-coulda, and all sorts of other trains of thought, that it seems like chaos up there. I feel like the beagle chasing every squirrel in the neighborhood.
That’s okay sometimes. Then real life and “adulting” give me a kick in the pants to activate my focus again.
During the times that I especially need to focus on a particular task or person, I have learned a few things that help me get to the finish line of those tasks and just let the squirrels go.
- Turn off social media and phones. Everyone knows this one. Just do it.
- Be present. When I am in my shop, I need to be working on shop-work—ONLY. When I’m at home, the shop business needs to stay away so I can be with my family. Be present. Focus on the people and activities that belong in your present setting.
- Set a timer. When I have a relatively short job to do, one hour or less, I like to set a timer to see if I can beat it. I once mopped my kitchen floor in 1 1⁄2 minutes while I had something in the microwave. I had a small kitchen at the time, but I was amazed to see how little time it actually took to do that task. It often takes more time to dread a job than to do it.
- Take care of potential distractions ahead of time. Don’t start a project right before lunch. That’s not going to end well, and you’ll have to scrape peanut butter off of something.
- Finish routine housework first, then do your focused time. I cannot think straight when Be present. When I am in my shop, I need to be working on shop-work—ONLY. When I’m at home, the shop business needs to stay away so I can be with my family. Be present. Focus on the people and activities that belong in your present setting.Turn off social media and phones. Everyone knows this one. Just do it.
- Make lists. I love lists! Keep a notebook handy to put those thoughts (squirrels) down on paper then forget about them for the time being.
- Play music and make a game of trying to beat the end of the song when you have quick little jobs to do.
- Impose deadlines. I operate an alterations shop. I’ve found the only way for me to ensure that customers get their work in a timely manner is to set a return appointment with them. The deadline forces me to make sure that project is finished by the time they come back.
- Keep a vision board in sight, or some other visual reminder, to stay focused on big goals. For instance, if your goal is to pay off all your debt, paper chains are one way to keep track of how much debt you have left. One link for every $1000 in debt. Hang it on your walls, then take off a link as you pay that balance. With a visual reminder, you’ll be thinking of that the next time you are tempted to buy the useless item you just have to have.
I may struggle with staying focused all my life, but with following these tips, I at least can get a boatload of work done, or just enjoy my family, and not chase so many squirrels.
I would love to hear any other tips you have for staying focused!
By Rebekah Marks