Time Management

5 Tips To Help You Tune Out And Focus

One day, faced with an extremely long to do list and a severe lack of sleep, I drank 40 ounces of iced coffee within a two hour span. Healthy? No, not at all. Effective? Not in the least. I spent the rest of the morning battling jitters, a racing heart and the anxiety of knowing that I was so hyperactive and unproductive that my to do list would never shorten. Moral of the story: caffeinating is not always the answer to buckling down to focus on the tasks at hand.

I’m sure we’ve all had those days, hopefully sans iced coffee overdose, where we just cannot seem to focus on what needs to be done. It usually takes the form of too many internet tabs, checking and then re-checking Twitter and Instagram, then project bouncing until it’s acceptable to end the day. Before you count the entire day as lost, try out these five methods for tuning out the distractions and focusing on the work. Oh, and stay away from the iced coffee…far away.

01 // Set the tone for work to be done

Whether I’m about to schedule blog posts or sit down to work on a design, I have to set a work tone. When I’m blogging, that usually involves some relaxed background music, coffee and a clean work space. All of these things send a signal to my brain that it’s time to get things done.

02 // Have a plan

If I know I have a busy day ahead, I’ll be sure to write out a prioritized to do list the night before. Knowing that you already have a road map for the  day will alleviate so much stress once you’re ready to work. Avoid having things scattered in multiple places; you’ll want to be as organized as possible.

03 // Eliminate distractions

This is probably the most important key for tuning out and focusing on the work you need to do. Open a new browser window with no other tabs, go full screen so that you aren’t tempted to open another program, put your phone on “do not disturb” mode (iPhone feature). Be a little unreachable so that once you’re doing working you have actual free time to chat and socialize.

04 // Work in time chunks

The feeling of having 24 hours versus your whole to do list can be pretty overwhelming. Try approaching your tasks by dividing things into set chunks of time. For example, take an hour to schedule blog posts and another hour to work on post graphics with a 30 minute break in between. The break will give you a second to rest your eyes and stretch while still knowing that you have more to be done.

05 // Stop avoiding and procrastinating

If you’ve tried everything else and you still can’t tune out and focus, it may be due to your procrastinating or avoiding another project. Instead of avoiding a daunting task, knock it out first so that it’s over and you have a fresh mind to move on with.

Other posts to help with focusing and organizing:
Create an Effective To Do List, Being Realistic with Time, Declutter Your Workspace, The System Method

Being Realistic With Time

Notice anything different around these parts? I wish you all could see my face when I think of, mention or look at this design. I can literally feel myself glowing. I love everything about it, it’s all that I wanted and more in a brand refresh. I also updated the sponsor and about the blog pages, and I’ll be revamping my about me page next! My social media profiles will also get revamped to match the blog’s branding, so look out for that too!

I also wanted to say thank you thank you thank you for all of the sweet, heartfelt comments left on Monday’s post. I’m glad that so many of you were able to related to feeling “blog guilt.” Thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone, and that I really have nothing to feel guilty about.

Oh, and to all of you who have taken my ecourse & ebook survey already, you rock! I’m going to keep accepting responses until the end of the week, and then I’ll share the results (and what I plan to do with those results) here on the blog next week!

My post on Monday, and reading through some of your comments, go me to thinking about how realistic we are when it comes to time and time management. Because how many times do you find yourself scrambling to get last minute projects completed, and stopping to ask “I wish there were more than 24 hours in one day.” But there aren’t, we only get 24 hours each day, and we can either use them wisely or waste them big time.

If you’ve spent even 10 minutes on this blog, you know that I’m big on to-do lists and productivity skills. I like mapping out my days, organizing tasks and attacking the day with intention. But still, even when I’ve written out a master plan for the day, I still find myself wishing I could collect an extra hour or two each night.

Sometimes, we aren’t very realistic with the time we have.

We look at the day, and forget about real things that we have to do – having a snack to keep you energized throughout the day, calling home, or even just taking a second to breathe. Oh, and don’t forget sleep – that takes time too. Everything  all requires time, and we have to be real enough with ourself to allocate that time.

Some easy ways to be more realistic about time

01. Stop overcommitting. The notion that we have to do as much in one day as humanly possible is a myth. That isn’t productivity, it’s overwhelm. Take on the things you need to be productive that day, no more. Once those things are done, evaluate how you’d like to spend the rest of your free time.

02. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your lifestyle is as unique are you are. Just because your productive day doesn’t match your best friends doesn’t mean you’ve done any less or that you’re worth any less. Your only job is to evaluate yourself, not the world.

03. Aim for balance. Instead of trying to pack your day full of work items, try to balance those out with zen items. Things that allow you to center yourself, refocus and boost your spirit. For me, that can be grabbing a cup of tea before class, or sharing an idea for a blog post with a friend. Anything to break the monotony. Because when you skip doing these things, you don’t do your tougher tasks well, and it usually takes you longer to complete them.

04. Keep your time distraction free. Instead of approaching the day as a blank sheet that you should just throw paint on as you go, think of it as being broken up in intervals. Place different tasks in different blocks, and give those items your full attention for that time. Step away from the TV, close those 20 tabs in your browser and watch time slow down for you.

Do you find yourself pressed for time? Do you think you’re being real about the amount of time you have to get work done each day?