Guest Post Written By Linda Nicol
How many times have you thought to yourself, “I must stay on task”, “I need to get his done”? Well, if you’re anything like me the answer is countless.
There are so many things going on in today’s world, it is very easy to get distracted or even become overwhelmed. You have things pinging, beeping and vibrating at you all day, and you may even be physically grabbed (if you have children) all of them competing and vying for your attention! How then can you possibly expect to get anything done?
With your head spinning, and your brain feeling as if it is performing a juggling act in the circus, it is important to take stock and formulate a plan. You must take charge and be the circus master, not the performer. Ok, so that’s easy for me to say as I sit here safely behind my computer screen and type, I can hear you say but alas, I too have had to take charge and become my own master.
This was no easy task, but determination and focus have allowed me to be the one ‘cracking my own whip’. I am now in control of when the acts happen in my circus.
So what is the ‘Holy Grail’? How did I get to this place? I implemented these 7 tricks which gave me laser focus to the point where I rarely need to think about it. Now, I did not try and implement all 7 in one go, I took one at a time until it became a habit and then implemented the next one and over the course of a few months, they became second nature. I have listed them below in the order that I undertook them, but you should implement them into your ‘circus’ in the way that suits you best.
At the beginning of this journey, I knew that I really should have been planning a week in advance but when I tried that my plans were always too vague and tool general so I put that to one side until I had honed my skills.
I started creating a list the night before of all the things that I needed to do the next day and put times against each task. This meant that my day had structure right from the outset, I had a beginning and an end time to each of my tasks. I could sit down at my desk and be productive right from the outset. I wasn’t left pondering what I was going to do that day or be distracted by somebody else’s ‘crisis’. I had my own mission to accomplish.
Once I had gotten used to writing out my task list the night before I upped the level of urgency when I was executing this during the day, I set timers as opposed to just watching the clock. The mental knowledge that the clock was ticking, and the buzzer would soon be going off gave me a sense of urgency, it had become a challenge to get the task done. It was almost a game to see how many tasks I could complete within their allotted times.
Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand to fill the time allotted to it. That got me thinking, why then would I allow myself 60 mins to carry out a task when if I really focussed, I could probably get it done in 50mins. Let’s not have the task rule me, I was going to rule the task. I then began setting the alarm a little earlier and sharpening my focus even further, this gave me back some precious time. My Ringmaster whip was really taking hold.
We have all heard this a million times and know we should do it but how many of us do? It took me a long time to get around to removing the distractions, it kept going to the “I’ll get around to it basket” and then never getting actioned. One day when I was halfway down a Facebook rabbit hole, instead of working towards an important deadline, I consciously noted to myself what I was doing and gave myself the proverbial kick in the backside that I needed. I felt like a naughty child that had been caught doing the wrong thing! I took the time there and then to turn off the notifications that endlessly pop up. I also turned off every application that I did not need, removing unnecessary distractions and temptations. Yep, you guessed it, I focussed, got back to work and set about completing the task at hand.
It has been proven by many studies that listening to the right kind of music will increase your concentration. So that’s what I did, who was I to argue with the scientists. Now I did not get this right to start with, I had my favourite tunes playing and was belting out the songs along to the music. Ahem, not quite what the articles had in mind, there was a whole lot of singing and not a lot of working. Back to the research for me and review what it said. The key was the ‘right kind’ of music, I had omitted that part, and the research also went onto specify that it should be instrumental only. Ok, now I understood and off to YouTube I went. There is an abundance of playlists that you can listen to, it is a matter of trialling a few and picking the one that works for you. I cannot say that I understand the science behind this but what I can say is that it works. The music appears to stop the mind from wandering and helps keep you on task. It is amazing.
Journaling was a large part of the success of keeping up the momentum. If you get to the end of your day, think about all the things that you have achieved and accomplished you will be very pleasantly surprised. This will then provide the incentive to get out the notebook and plan the next day after all why wouldn’t you want to repeat or even better the day’s success. It leaves you feeling pumped and ready to tackle the next day head-on and show the world how fabulous you are.
Recognizing the achievements of the day and rewarding yourself for them is a massive part of your success after all why would you want to keep doing a fantastic job of something that you are not getting any recognition for. The reward is critical. Your reward may come in the form of a smug grin, it may be a glass of wine or even a bath but whatever it is make sure you reward yourself. If you find that you are struggling during the day, stop, think about what you have achieved so far and reward yourself, perhaps with a piece of chocolate or coffee & cake. Whatever works for you.
These tips do not need to be implemented in any particular order just pick one and start, once it has become a habit move onto the next and so on. Within no time at all you will have promoted yourself from the circus performer, juggling balls and spinning plates to the Ringmaster cracking the whip over your tasks.
Once you have started to gain momentum, sit back and feel very smug about how your friends and family are in awe of this awesome new you!!
I’d love to hear how you have used these tips, the order that you implemented and how it feels to be back in control. Drop me a message on Facebook, I’d love to hear from you.