1. Organize what has to be done, as you begin.
2. Let those around you know where you will be focusing your attention and time.
3. Be realistic if there is something you cannot get done.
4. Get rid of distractions right away, so you can focus.
5. Prioritize tasks.
6. Get efficient help where you need it.
7. Take a 5 minute break every hour and center.
8. Take care of your physical needs, to keep your stamina up.
9. Identify the signs of when it is getting to be too much. When they show up, stop
10. Periodically evaluate your progress and respond accordingly.
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A client of mine once called focus the “F” word. Although we sometimes lose focus, it does not serve us to drift too far. Distraction, lack of motivation and fatigue can cause unproductive drift. It happens to me – I’m tired, discouraged or don’t really want to do something and I start drifting. I am not putting my whole self into what I am doing. There are hazards to unproductive drift. Your mental acuity dulls. Tasks don’t get done. Distractions tempt you. Can you think of a time you experienced unproductive drift? It wouldn’t hurt to sharpen your ability to notice when you begin drifting unproductively. Find ways to stop your drift. I stop it by taking a break and regrouping. Or, by honestly looking at what is causing me to do it and addressing that. I find the source. Keep an eye on your unproductive drifting. You’ll stay on course and be better at what you do.
Yes, sometimes you can best manage your priorities by doing nothing. What is a priority anyway? It’s a task at the front of the queue. The doing nothing comes in for tasks not in the front of the queue. Can you ignore these secondary tasks until your priorities are handled? Yes, you can. Because getting distracted, voluntarily or involuntarily, often ensures that nothing at all gets done.
One way to manage your priorities is to limit what you define as a priority. There can’t be too many of them in one day. Schedule time to complete your priorities realistically, considering things such as “must go to” meetings. Your priorities may be big ones that can’t be completed in a day. If that is the case, “chunk them down” into daily tasks that move you forward to completion.
As I faced this issue of how to manage my priorities, I came up with a system that was very effective for me. At the beginning of each day, I would determine what priorities needed my immediate attention. I would schedule several tasks for that day that would move me forward on my priorities. I would limit the tasks I scheduled to things I could complete in half of my day. I would focus on these tasks until they were completed, not allowing distractions to derail me. Once they were done, I still had time in my day to do other things. This system created movement and accomplishment and increased my capacity for focus and completion.
What about those distractions? You have to practice discernment and create boundaries to deal with distraction. True emergencies must be dealt with, but you don’t have to let yourself be thrown off course by “the crisis of the day”. Sometimes distraction can be caused by overwhelm and not knowing what to do next. Doing nothing on non-priorities and non-emergency distractions allows movement. You will get things done. The distractions will minimize, both through sharpening your own focus and as others realize that your focus is on your true priorities.
Image: winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net