In this two-part series, you’ll discover the four simple strategies to get you focused & moving.
In my business I do a lot of creative thinking type things, like writing articles and workshop training, creating programs and resources, strategic planning and such. I like doing it and wouldn’t want it any other way. I even have several file folders full of scraps of paper with ideas begging to be developed.
Yet, there are times when I feel like I’m in a wrestling match with myself to just sit down and get at it.
Suddenly a hundred different tasks pop into view… Oh look, there are three social media notifications I should check out right now; Better respond to those emails/social media messages/Voxer/Slack/voicemails/text messages before I forget; I know a snack would fortify me so I can think better. I’ll just watch this funny video while I eat…
Two hours later… I have an appointment now, so I can’t get to this today. I’ll think about it tomorrow.
I’ll bet you’ve done it too, right?
It doesn’t mean you’re irresponsible, weak, or lazy
for not automatically kicking into “game on” every time.
After all, you’re a human, not a machine.
For any number of reasons, we all have times that we’re dodging what we know we need to tackle, even when we’ve designated time in our schedule to focus on it in a responsible, stress-free, proactive manner.
However, there are a couple of easy ways you can get yourself focused and productive quickly, even when you don’t feel like it.
Strategy #1: A Change of Scenery
Sometimes moving to a different location, i.e. from your office to a coffee shop, will pop you into a different frame of mind.
If you can’t physically go somewhere else, you can trick your mind into experiencing a change of scenery by using your earbuds and going somewhere else virtually.
I like going to YouTube and playing an ambiance video in another tab. It’s amazing how the sound of ocean waves, a crackling fireplace, a thunderstorm, bird songs, or classical music through a pair of earbuds can transport you to another place.
When at my desk, it’s ambiance sounds, a lit candle, next to a window, hot tea in a china pot, with a china teacup and saucer that clinks when I set it down. When at a coffee shop or other location, it’s ambiance through earbuds, near a window, and hot tea in my own pretty travel mug. I put my phone out of sight, close all superfluous windows and tabs on the computer, and through the magic of conditioned response, I’m transported to the land of focus.
Strategy #2: Beat the Clock
I’ve found this to be one of the best strategies to jumpstart activity. It capitalizes on the focused state we naturally kick into when a deadline is looming, but without the feeling of anxiety and risk of failure. Instead, we get to make it a game with ourselves.
Set a timer for 20 minutes. Tell yourself, “I only need to work on this for 20 minutes. I’m going to accomplish this small piece of the task/activity, and I’m going to beat the clock, because, winning!”
At the end of 20 minutes of intense focus like this, you’re rewarded with a 10-minute break to stretch, refill your cup, or watch a funny cat video…but only for 10 minutes. That means you’ll need to set the timer for that too.
You may be surprised that in 20 minutes you accomplished the task you’d been dodging for the last 2 days. If there’s more to it that needs to get done that day, then set the timer and do it again.
As you become more practiced at this, you’ll be able to remain focused for a longer period.
I like to create a flow of 25 minutes of focus with a 5-minute break, for three or four rounds, then shift gears entirely for 30 minutes. You’ll be amazed how much you get done in that 1 ½ hour – 2 hour period. It’s quite an empowering feeling.
TIP:I’ve found it to be especially effective to combine Strategies 1 and 2.
The more you practice this the faster you’ll get into the zone.