Is your mind cluttered, your desk looking like anarchy or are you just generally feeling a bit ‘meh’?
It can feel virtually impossible to get anything done when your mind simply won't let you get past the mental roadblock it’s placed firmly in front of that never-ending task list.
Whether you’ve tried Marie Kondo’ing your office or task list, or you’ve adopted the Pomodoro Technique (short bursts of work with regular breaks), you’re probably feeling exasperated if you don’t find a way of properly focusing on your task/s.
Did you know…?
- 28% of each day is wasted on distractions
- 13 hours every week is spent on emails
- 27% of workers feel disorganised
During my time at Thrive I’ve consumed many, many, MANY blogs on productivity, time management and motivation, as well as adopting various theories and practices to see what impact they have, but these 10 tips and ideas are my “golden rules”.
Let me know at @ThriveHQ which one resonates with you!
Make a list
But the list you’d think about doing - make a list of all things you need to cut out, reduce, stop doing so you can do the main damn thing you want to (yeah, be fierce about it)!
Choose your background noise
It’s very true that the environment we’re in can do a lot for our approach and motivation to challenge a particular task. Create a playlist or choose the radio station you prefer to tackle difficult tasks - get “in the zone” by playing it through headphones to block out additional noise and distractions (oh yeah, turn your phone over/put it on silent/turn it off!)
Reduce creature comforts
It’s easy to get lost in a 6-hour Netflix binge, I’ve been there. But what do you gain at the end? OK, a vast knowledge of the US criminal system (thanks, The Staircase), or the overwhelming feeling to spend 3-hours researching New York trips (thanks, Isn’t It Romantic)! But you haven’t really gained anything - you’ve just wasted time that could have been used better on that niggling project (to improve your home or work life!)
Commit to restricting your TV (or gaming) to only 1 or 2 hours. Whichever restriction works best for your other life commitments, choose it and stick to it. You’ll feel better for it!
Get out of bed!
If you’re like me (hello, night owls!) then prise yourself out of bed one hour early, every day, for two weeks. Don’t use it to catch up on TV or rant at Piers Morgan ranting on Good Morning Britain. Use it to improve yourself, read a book, do yoga, paint your nails, if you really have to, clear your inbox… whatever it takes to get you ready for the day ahead.
Drink more water, more often. If you’re someone that drinks very little during the working day anyway, this is an absolute must. There are simply so many benefits to keeping your mind and body hydrated.
Research from the University of Barcelona shows, “Being dehydrated by just 2% impairs performance in tasks that require attention, psychomotor, and immediate memory skills, as well as assessment of the subjective state.”
Ignore Becky on Facebook
Or whoever it is that has you addicted to Facebook - you know the drama queen, the sole reason you’re still on Facebook. Banish Becky & co by putting your phone down when you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram or the Daily Mail app (my personal vice).
Put your thumbs to better use by clearing your emails, typing up that blog, or challenging your children to a friendly Thumb War!
Set micro goals
If you have a looming project that is multi-faceted, break it down! Write your ‘ultimate goal’ and underneath create a mini list of sub-goals, the things you can do throughout to prove progress - progress is ultimately what we’re all trying to achieve with our task lists! Mark off each micro goal and if you make significant progress reward yourself in a small way.
Get inspired - go outside
Explore the outside world - don’t lock yourself in the office for 4 hours and hope to achieve anything remotely worthwhile. If you’re not in the right frame of mind for the task at hand, spend 10 or 20 minutes chatting with people, walking around the office, take a walk around the grounds. You can easily improve your mental agility by quite literally giving it some air to breathe!
For a long time, I thought the best approach was to tackle various things head-on - rather than prioritising one over the other. I quickly discovered I get things done faster - and better - when I choose to tackle tasks one at a time. Close your email tab, make a note to print that document but don’t do it right away, continue with the original task!
Success is not the goal - progress is. If you strive to ‘hit it out the ballpark’ you may not make it. If you strive to get off the starting line, you will. There’s nothing wrong with completing bits at a time, so take a realistic approach and get on with it, being thankful you’re ‘on your way’.
Ultimately, focus is a mental strength that everybody struggles with from time to time. Choose to get started, rather than waiting for the right time. Don’t diminish your own achievements, be proud of what you’ve done so far.