This day and age it’s nearly impossible to start a task without some sort of distraction screaming for our attention. An email pings, a text comes in, or the phone rings and suddenly we’re doing everything except the one thing we need to get done. It can be 30 minutes before we refocus on the task at hand once a distraction hits.
Or maybe it’s just simple overwhelm that has you struggling with getting things done. It happens to the best of us – some days you just can’t focus on work no matter how hard you try. It’s frustrating when you flounder all day trying to pick up the pieces of a project you’ve started, but your mind just won’t cooperate.
Being a creative type, I tend to deal with this a lot. My mind goes in billion different directions at any given time. I usually deal with guilt on these days, because I don’t feel like I’ve done enough.
However, I do believe that there is a way to turn that thinking around and realizing exactly HOW these days CAN become productive days.
The key here is to PRIORITIZE. When you know that you’re not going to be able to stick to the plan you had for the day, I find it helpful to get enthused about trying something different.
This tends to work really well for my creative personality that thrives well in situations where I try and do new things.
LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unfocused, this may be a good time to set aside specific tasks and focus on the bigger picture. Brainstorming sessions are not only great for business/life in general, but can help redirect your focus onto something new and innovative.
You can revisit the brainstorming ideas you come up with in more depth later when your thoughts are clear. Oftentimes, we struggle focusing because we are stuck in overwhelm over all the little tasks.
I’ve had plenty of moments where I got so overwhelmed with everything I needed to do for work, that I lost sight of why I was really doing what I was doing. Allowing myself time to take a step back and refocus allowed me to get my “head back in the game.”
TAKE A BREAK TO EDUCATE/MOTIVATE YOURSELF
Another way to get through the day when your mind is working against you is to spend some time learning about things pertaining to your business or reading motivational material that will encourage you and help you restart your creativity.
My most productive days always start out with listening to a good motivational podcast. This not only helps me to continue expanding my knowledge, but also gives me encouragement.
Starting out the day like this ensures that I will be more focused. But should there ever be a time when I don’t start the day out this way and find myself unfocused, taking a break to listen to one of my favorite business or health inspirations helps a lot.
TAKE NOTE OF THE CLUTTER
When you have trouble focusing, it may be that clutter is the culprit. Contrary to articles that get spread around the internet claiming that messy people are geniuses of some sort (clickbait much?), plenty of studies show that clutter adds mental stress and anxiety. Not only that, but clutter can cause your attention to falter when you get distracted by something in the clutter.
Clear Your Physical Space:
Gather everything around you that you need to complete a certain task and get rid of the extraneous stuff. This includes extra tabs and documents open on your computer (speaking to my “10 billion tabs open” self here). P.S. Have you tried the OneTab Chrome Extension? It helps me organize all my open tabs – amazing!
Clear Your Head Space:
And just like you can have a cluttered room, you can also have a cluttered mind. Clearing your mind completely can help you to easily return and focus on the task at hand.
Meditation and exercise are both great ways to help clear your mind so that you are able to refocus. This is one of the reasons that I am such a big fan of Yoga, because it combines exercise and meditation.
PRIORITIZE TASKS WITH A LIST THE NIGHT BEFORE
This is something I have done in recent years: I make my to-do list the night before. This helps me sleep better (I’m not awake in bed trying to remember all the things I need to do the next day), so that I’m refreshed and able to have a clearer mind the following day.
Having your list prioritized also helps with focus while working. When you have tasks floating around in your head or the phone rings or you hear the ping of a new email, it’s difficult to get into the creative process you need at the time. You may find yourself unable to remember things, filter important information, or go between tasks easily.
FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
This one is hard, I know. The digital world we now live in has made it almost impossible to think as we used to. Prioritizing your tasks can give you the freedom you need to concentrate on one thing at a time.
As much as I am prone to multi-tasking, I have to try to avoid it as much as possible so that I can complete tasks more efficiently.
Many claim that multi-tasking is a good thing, but I don’t believe this to be so.
I’ve had days where I am distracted between multiple things, and nothing was completed. Other days when I was able to focus on one item at a time, multiple things got done. Several experts claim that multi-tasking wastes more time simply because it takes much longer to refocus every time you start back on a new task.
Try it yourself and see if focusing on one thing at a time helps you to become more productive.
Thank you so much to iMedx for sponsoring today’s post. All thoughts and opinions are genuine and my own.
“iMedX serves an impressive array of medical professionals across the globe. Clients include numerous large academic facilities, Integrated Health Delivery Networks, community hospitals and multi-specialty physician groups. Because clients deal with a variety of diverse IT systems, regulatory requirements, security mandates, and a wide range of employee skill sets, iMedX creates implementation plans that are customized, multidisciplinary, and thorough… As one of the leading providers of health information and clinical documentation services worldwide, iMedX continues to grow rapidly through client referrals, new sales, and industry acquisitions.”