To say I feel distracted some days is an understatement. Some days it feels like my brain is a web browser with 27 tabs open, where the tabs are all the different thoughts and tasks rolling through my mind. On these days I feel I am unable to focus on a single task for long enough to accomplish anything. Despite knowing how distracted I have been, it is hard to break this cycle and learn to be more intentional with your time, energy and focus. After talking with friends, family members and clients, I know I am not alone.
This year so many of us have been forced into these environments where we feel we have no choice but to juggle too many things at once. For many of us we are taking on more roles than normal, umm hello homeschooling, and our worlds have totally collided. For most of us our work life and personal life were separated by time and space, but now they are trapped under one roof, trying to co-exist. It is understandable that our mind feels scrambled and we feel we are trying to juggle too many roles and responsibilities all at once.
We live in a society when multitasking is glorified, but by doing that we are basically giving ourselves permission to live our life in a constant state of distraction where we are unintentional with our time, energy and focus. We often do it in the name of productivity, but I feel very few people feel like they have accomplished much after a day of juggling a million different things.
I have five tips to set yourself up for a more focused, less distracted day.
Declutter your space. I fInd it incredible how decluttering your space will instantly declutter your mind and reduce feelings of overwhelm. At the end of each day I try to tidy up my workspace so I can start my day with more clarity and fewer distractions.
Set priorities for the day and put them in your schedule. I am the queen of creating unrealistic to-do lists. I will start the day with so much planned and even if i have the most productive day ever, I always end up disappointed because I didn’t get it all done. Now I give myself some more grace and prioritizes my most important tasks for the day and actually block off time in my schedule for it. This way I have a better understanding of what I can reasonably fit into my day. The key is giving yourself feasible and realistic timelines, I am still working on this. I think it is human nature to underestimate the time it will take to get the tasks to get done.
Get in a state of flow. Have you ever been in a state of flow where you are hyper focused and time seems to slow down? It is an amazing state to be in if you are hoping to be productive. There are things you can do to help you get into this state before sitting down to do some work. First, set up your environment so that it is just right for you, think of things like your comfort, temperature, lighting, and scent. Once you have settled into your space, take some time to focus on your breathing and release any unnecessary thoughts. Other people find it helpful to do things they find meditative prior settling in to do work. Think things like going for a walk, washing dishes, colouring or gardening.
Commit to monotasking, it’s a thing. It's time to stop glorifying multitasking and embracing monotasking. When it comes to monotasking I found the Pomodoro method has been a game changer for me. I had heard about it for a while before I actually tried it out and I was astonished with the outcomes. Using this method I commit to 25 minutes of uninterrupted work followed by a 5 minute break. During that time, I try to limit distractions by putting the phone away, closing my email, shutting the door and letting other people know I am having a focused block of time. If any other thoughts, tasks, demands pop up I ignore them, knowing I can address them when the 25 minutes is up. I find it super helpful to have a notebook beside me during the process to jot down any task or thoughts that come to mind, so I can write them down and release them from my mind.
Take intentional breaks. When we feel under pressure to get things done, we often neglect your need for rest. We forget that we deserve a break and often can focus better and get more done after a time out. So listen to your body and mind, when you start to fidget more and have a difficult time focusing, it’s time. During that break see if you can nourish your body a bit, think about sneaking in some movement (maybe a stretch, squats, push-ups, a few times up and down the stairs), topping up your water and tea, grabbing a healthy snack or catching some rays.
Think about which of these strategies would fit best in your life and start to incorporate. Give yourself some grace, it takes time and focus to break this habit of multitasking.
Want to learn more?
Check out this blog on how to deal with busy times
Check out this blog on how to protect your energy in busy times.
Check out this blog on how to figure out what's it your stress bucket.
Check out this blog on how to help your body recover from stress.