I’ve been sharing information about how I had lost my edge a bit. I lacked my usual focus and ended up delaying projects. But in the past week, I’ve really stepped up and have gotten amazingly productive again. I am getting things off my to-do list – even with a four-day weekend.
How’d I do it?
It came down to regaining my focus.
Here are a few tips and secrets to stop distractions and get more productive.
#1 Work when it makes sense to work. Trying to force productivity in the middle of family chaos just doesn’t make sense. Children banging on your office door, pets needing to be fed and walked and a spouse who is wondering where the car keys are don’t help you accomplish a thing.
When do you have quiet time? Those quiet moments alone are the best times to be productive. Capture these moments or create them. Get up an hour earlier in the morning or stay up late if it makes sense.
#2 Prioritize. Sometimes we’re focusing on the wrong things. Answering emails during your productive time isn’t a good use of time. Writing blog posts or articles during that quiet time makes more sense. Create a list of priorities and focus on them during your quiet work times.
#3 Use a timer. It sounds silly but timers really make you focus on what you’re doing. This is a great technique that Sandy Martini shares with her clients. Set the timer, a kitchen timer will do, to the amount of time it should take you to complete the task. Now, get to work. Knowing the clock is ticking forces you to pay attention to what you’re doing.
You can also use the timer for more creative ventures like brainstorming and planning. Simply set the timer for the amount of time you have to devote to the task. When the timer rings, stop what you’re doing and move onto the next task on your list.
#4 White noise. While some people say quiet is the best way to focus, it’s not great for everyone (including me). Some people find great success by creating some sort of background or white noise to work by. Music is a common tool to use. Find music that doesn’t make you want to get up and dance but rather sits in the background.
#5 Set goals. This is similar to the timer method because it uses a quantifiable measurement to help you stay on track. For example, if you have a few hours in the morning and you have a report to write, your goal might be to finish and deliver the report before you take your lunch. If nothing else, hunger will motivate you to focus on finishing the report quickly.
Determine what your biggest challenges and obstacles are. What’s preventing you from focusing? What distractions commonly interrupt you? Once you know what you’re facing, you can adopt the best method for overcoming them.
© Copyright 2011 Shannon Cherry, APR, MA