Don’t you find that in your life there are just too many things going on. Your head feels fuzzy and you do not have enough hours in the day. This is a common complaint I see from many of the clients I coach and the more I listen the more I hear that one of the main issues is that we are not fine tuning the art of FOCUSING. We are allowing distractions to steal time away from us that could be put to much better use, whether that be at work or at the end of the day when we are spending time with family and friends. To add to that, if you work from home you have even more distractions available to you…putting the washing on, preparing the supper, walking the dog and that’s not to mention the area that is social media!
I recently asked a client how much time she believed she wasted on social media each day, the answer was about half an hour which equates to 2.5 hours in a week. One of her initial questions to me was how can I fit everything in that I need to fit in without having to get up at silly o’clock. The answer is to prioritise what is important and focus until that task is done.
To be focused means to give attention to one particular thing but the important point to note is to COMPLETE that one particular thing before moving on to the next. Many of us, like myself, have fingers in different pies so we are having to share our time among different hyphens (if you have not read Emma Gannon’s Multi-Hyphen Method I would certainly recommend it) and distraction can happen very easily. Until I mastered the art of focusing (and I still have my off days) you could occasionally find me trawling through LinkedIn reading article after article. Now don’t get me wrong, I read articles that are interesting and beneficial but this lack of focus is taking me away from my main priorities meaning I do not achieve all that I want to achieve in my day so my head does not empty and I on those occasions I know that I do not sleep as well. Finishing your day having tied up all lose ends with your to-do list ready for the next day makes for a great feeling.
So what can you do to become more focused? Here are a couple of things to try:
- To start with you can become AWARE of how much time you are wasting and when you lose focus. I believe it is impossible to change any habit (and that is just what it is) unless you have awareness. Take today. Have you a plan? Do you list and prioritise and do you allocate time next to a task? If you do, you are already following good habits. If not, is it about time you make a change? Note how long things take and note when you become distracted and for how long. How much time have you already wasted today?
- Reward yourself! Before you set about doing the next task have a quiet word with yourself. Tell yourself that only when you have completed this task will you allow yourself to check social media (for a limited time), or make yourself a cup of tea – that is your reward. Preparation counts for a lot in so many things that we do.
- Turn off social media notifications – if you cannot hear the vibration on your phone you are already removing the distraction.
- Use distraction fighting tools like POCKET which is a great free app letting you save any piece of content for later reading with a single click.
- Be present! As a family we recently took the decision to leave all phones in the kitchen when going into the living room at the end of the day to watch a bit of television. This is a good habit to get into if you can.
So when you next say to someone ‘I just don’t have enough hours in the day’ are you really being truthful or do you need to bring a little more focus into your life? What could you be doing with the time you might be wasting?