Episode #27: How to Keep Focused
I’ve recommended calendaring everything you need to do as a way of helping you move forward with your goals. But if you have too many things to do, you need to slow down first, and see what you really need to get done in order to move the needle on your progress.
For example, right now I have 41 things on my to-do list. That’s completely unrealistic! I cannot possibly get it all done in a day or even a few days. So I’ll start with my list and identify the top three most important items that I must get done, and then go from there.
I employ a lot of productivity hacks that remove distractions. For me, I find that it’s important to:
- Put my phone on airplane mode or vibrant.
- Turn my social media notifications off.
- Use noise cancelling headphones, like Bose.
- Play wordless music (this works for me, it may not for you).
- Set aside specific time to work.
The key is to help you focus on your job, your business, or on whatever else you feel like you’ve fallen behind on. I personally find being on social media distracts me because it causes me to start thinking about all of the things I should be doing.
When I get quiet and ask myself what I really need to be doing, I always know the answer. Everything on social media is still going to be there, and going there doesn’t help me accomplish anything. Choose to interact with social media on your terms.
This week, slow down. Turn off the noise. Ask yourself: What is most important for me to do today? How can I move this project forward? Determine what you should be focusing on, and keep your eye on that. The goal is to try and keep focused while the rest of the world is spinning out of control.
Hello and welcome to episode number 27 of the Strategy Corner where our goal is to get you to take action. I’m your host, Michelle Zink, the owner of Intentional Solutions Corp. In today’s episode we’re talking about how to keep focused when the rest of the world is spinning out of control. I know, I’m sure you’ve never felt this way where you’ve had a lot on your plate and you keep getting distracted because the world is pulling you in. Today, I’m going to talk about the strategies that I utilize to help me stay focused. So, the first one I always recommend is calendaring. I try to calendar everything I need to get done. I’m not always as good at it. And at times, I come to a point where I’ve got so many things to do that, I just make a long list and start checking it off.
So, calendaring is key for me, but there are times when I come to a point where I have so many things on my list that I need to slow down and figure out what’s most important. And that’s where I have my second thing that I normally do. If I have a long list like I actually have right now, let me look at my list here. I’ve got 41 things on my to do list. I know this is very unrealistic and not going to be, well, no, I’m kidding. It’s very unrealistic to have 41 things. But yesterday, I was feeling really overwhelmed with a lot of things and opportunities that I have going on. So, I decided just to devise a long list and between now, which is, I’m taping this on a Thursday, between now and the end of the weekend, I hope to get through that whole list.
So, even though I write down a list of over 30 items, I then go back and prioritize what are the top three things to do. So, for instance, today, I knew the number one thing was to go ahead and get updated on my email. I’ve let that go over the last couple of days. I’ve been responding to things I had to, but there was some emails and I needed to get back with. I also knew I needed to send an email out to one of my clients about a strategy session coming up and I had a few other things that just had to get done before I even started my top list. So, I got those things done and then I went ahead and listed the top three things that would make me feel like I was accomplished today. So, just starting there and then after we get those three things down and go to the next few things in the next three things.
Now, to go ahead and keep focused, I always put my phone on silent or airplane mode. I do this because even though I have all of my Facebook and Instagram do not pop up and tell me if there’s a new message, I do have text messages pop up. So, this way if I find like if those are most important, I find that text messages are most important. If someone’s texting me, that’s someone I want to get back with or if there’s a phone call. So, during the time that I really need to keep focused, I just go ahead and put my phone on silent or airplane mode so that those things don’t even come up while I’m working. I also utilize a strategy of letting my family know ahead of time when I need time to focus. So, this past weekend I had some work I needed to get done and my husband wanted to run a few errands so he took Milly and that allowed me to get some work done and to keep focused.
So, when they got back, we could have fun and I didn’t have to worry about it. Another thing that I utilize is noise canceling headphones to stay focused. So, if you’re working in a coffee shop or if you are working in the office and there’s an important thing you need to get taken care of, you’re working on financial numbers. I know all of you and financial fields, it’s really hard to focus on the numbers when people were having fun outside your office or there’s music from another office going off. So, the noise canceling headphones are a savior for me. When I really need to focus in and get some work done, I use the Bose noise canceling headphones. I’ve had them for years and I just play music over them, you know, music without words because again I feel like words distract me. So, I just do the ones, the songs without words.
And that really helps to kind of keep the outside noise out and then helps me work. Cause I know a lot of you guys who are entrepreneurs work in coffee shops as well and it’s really convenient to go there and get a cup of coffee. But then to stay focused is hard. It’s easy to go ahead and look around the room, see what other people are doing. So, those noise canceling headphones are so key and keeping you focused when the rest of the world is having fun and engaging with each other. So, the key to focus is to focus on you, put your head down and focus on the things you need to get done to move the needle forward in your life, your job, your business and whatever else you’re feeling overwhelmed or that you’ve fallen behind in. I for one have a hard time not looking at others on social media like Facebook, Instagram and seeing what they are doing, like taking action or going on vacation or doing videos or their daily business and it’s hard for me not to think I should be doing that.
Do you guys ever feel that? Do you guys ever feel like you should be fitting in better? You should be doing all these things. I don’t know about you, but my brain goes there so when I really need to get quiet, I make sure that I don’t even go on social media because that will just put me in a tailspin to think about all these other things and I need to add to my already long list of over 30 items. Because when I get quiet and sit with myself and ask myself what I really need to be doing, what would serve me to grow my business, what I need to do right now to keep me focused, I always know the answer. I always know the answer and I always know that going into social media isn’t going to be helping me, but what I do know for a fact is that everything will still be there when I get back.
I will not miss out on any social posts from friends, from organizations that I have along with. There’s still going to be there. That’s what’s so great about Facebook and Instagram you can still go back and see what people post if you really wanted to know. And this allows you to go ahead and move the needle on what you want to accomplish, but then allow yourself to go and spend time on Facebook and Instagram, but only when you’re ready to and when you have space and when you’ve gotten things done that you need to get done. One thing I also know is that putting myself on a self-inflicted break from podcasts, audible, YouTube for a few days helps me to focus and get stuff done without the noise. I’ve shared with you in the past. I love books. I love learning and unfortunately, that’s very wonderful in some instances.
But then also it can hold me back from just doing what I need to get done. It’s always great to learn. But I know in most of the cases I already know a lot of what I need to know. And so, if I need to get things done, you know, listening to podcasts and audible is pretty much a buffer for me. Meaning, I utilize it to make myself feel good when if I just went ahead and did the things I need to do, I’d feel really great. So, the noise from those podcasts and audible and YouTube don’t help me focus when I really need to do the things that I need to get done. So, I will put myself on self-inflicted breaks from those particular venues or places. The rest of the stuff, like the videos and the Facebook posts will be there, like I said earlier, and there’ll be there for you to engage in.
So, again, it’s about realizing what is not keeping you focused. So, it could be the podcast, it could be blogs, it could be audible, you know, you could be listening to a lot of books and just realizing that you can go ahead and put them on the shelf. Go ahead and take a few days to focus on what you need and they will be there. So, it’s just being honest and open with yourself on what you need to get done. What’s a priority and then what is holding you back? What are the actions that you’re taking that are holding you back from accomplishing it? And maybe if you just put those things on hold, got what you needed to get done, and then you could watch Netflix or you could watch YouTube videos. But you do that when you’re feeling good about what you’ve accomplished and not feeling guilty because you have a lot of stuff on your plate.
Okay, so your call to action this week is to slow down, turn off the noise, look at everything that you need to accomplish and put them in priority order. If you don’t know what the priority is, ask yourself, if I only worked on three things today, what would those three things be? What is most important for me to do today to get ahead and make forward movement on X? If you have a project, if you have a relationship you need to work on. Remember, all of my strategies can be utilized not only for your professional life, but your personal life as well. You know, when we’re talking about keeping focus on the rest of the world is spinning out of control, that can easily be about keeping focused on a relationship that you have with your children. Because in today’s day and age, it’s so easy again, just to go to your phone and to not communicate with your children because you’re overwhelmed and you’ve got so many things on your list.
And we think that Facebook and these places will make us feel better. And they do. They provide that dopamine hit that we’re craving. But if we really just slowed down and realize what we need to focus on and get those things done, we’ll have time to get to the Facebook and things of that nature when we want to and they’ll still be there. So again, your call to action is to determine what is most important, what you should be focusing on, what you need to turn off, or what you need to stop doing to get your things done, how you can prioritize your list. So, if you’re having problems, just ask yourself, if I worked on three things today, what would those three things be? And again, the goal is to try to keep focused while the rest of the world is spinning out of control. Now, please go to iTunes, Stitcher, Google play, and subscribe to the Strategy Corner. You could also go to my website, intentionalsolutionscorp.com, and sign up to get my weekly blog posts, which also has a link to my latest podcast. Until next time, remember through action and growth progression happens. Let’s take action together. Thank you and create an amazing week.