Focus was my “Word of the Year” in 2018.
Did I keep it in mind every day? – I actually did (I even incorporated it into a few of my then-passwords).
Did I stick to it and make it my priority every time I got distracted? – I wish.
That’s why this year I am teaching myself all about how to refocus in case I get sidetracked or when things go haywire.
7 Things I Do To Help Myself Refocus
This is a big one for me.
When I find myself procrastinating or putting things off (whether it’s done intentionally or I am subconsciously avoiding the task), I go back to my ‘why’s.
– Why did I start this in the first place?
Even when you do something you love, more often than never you might end up feeling uninspired or unmotivated. Maybe even discouraged. That’s when I take myself back down the good ol’ memory lane and remind myself WHY I started doing what I do.
Surely, I was passionate about it back then (and most likely still am). Surely, I had a lot of hopes and expectations about this project when I first began.
If my ‘why’s (and yours) are strong enough and if they still reflect the person I am today, I have to keep going.
– Why do I enjoy doing this?
It’s a fun question to ask yourself.
Sometimes we forget why we love what we do. The rut, the survival mode and the natural busyness of life takes over and makes the feeling of enjoyment a little bit blurry.
Whether it is your work or your hobby, remind yourself why you’re enjoying what you do.
I often quiz myself on this one and it usually revolves around 3 things: joy, fulfilment, outcome.
– Why is it important I continue doing it?
As harsh as it might sound, it is easier to give up than carry on.
It’s much more comfortable to drop all the work and switch away (or even put it off without a deadline in mind).
When distractions hit, when tiredness kicks in, when creativity block is here, ask yourself why it is so crucial you keep fighting and continue. Maybe it’s to help others. Or to provide for your needs or your family’s needs. Maybe it’s to be independent. Or to help you fulfill a life-long dream.
Carry on knowing why you must carry on.
What would I do without a good ol’ brain dump?
Especially when (most of the time) my mind feels like a computer with 100+ tabs opened all at once. It makes it easy for distractions (or things I suddenly think of or remember) flood in.
I’ve written all about the usefulness and advantages of a brain dump in a separate blog post over here.
A brain dump is a list of things you need to take care of urgently, soon or in the future.
It can be a messy list and tasks don’t have to be connected to one another.
How to do a brain dump? Put everything away, sit down and start writing your to-dos and different things you must not forget (I usually write them as bullet points).
I have two brain dump lists: one in a paper format in my agenda and another one on my phone (Notes) in case when I think of something and don’t have my notebook and my pen handy.
Then I organise my tasks/thoughts according to urgency. Those that need to be done ASAP go into my today’s to-do list. Those that can wait are scheduled for later.
Having a place where I can “dump” my thoughts is excellent for that fresh focus we are all after.
I can’t even tell you how many times I made the same rookie mistake.
I’d wake up in the morning and waste hours trying to do this or that (if I’m not at work) and, as a result, not get anything accomplished. That’s why I felt like my “word of the year” was 2018 had to be FOCUS.
Well, in order to REFOCUS, I make a plan.
We usually get distracted easier when we don’t have a plan.
Some people advise to make a list of things you need to get done tomorrow the day before (today).
I tried. But then tomorrow comes and I am not feeling half of that list.
What works for me is writing things I need to do tomorrow today but on a sticky note (or in my brain dump list – just so I don’t forget). Then, the next day I’d wake up and review what needs to be done, what’s urgent, what can wait – and write the plan for the day.
I tend to not plan too far into the future, apart from trips and celebrations.
Physically writing down what I need to do helps me refocus and motivates me big time.
Is Anyone else here guilty of having bad habits and struggling to shake them?
My hand is up, people.
When I find myself in a rut, distracted or unmotivated, I always do this one (very effective) thing to “snap out of it” – change my routine.
I ask myself what didn’t work for me.
The answer is usually as clear as day but it’s also a tough pill to swallow because you have to accept you’ve been doing something wrong or something that hasn’t be good for you.
Thankfully, you can change that.
When I want to help myself refocus, I start with changing a) my sleeping habits (by adding more hours to my precious Zzz time but also waking up earlier) and b) my eating habits (I cut down on “treats” and snacking on junk).
Those two are usually enough to get me started because they both influence one key factor – my energy.
That ‘Screen Time’ function is an eye-opener, isn’t it?
I am talking about a handy little feature my iPhone has in its Settings.
Even if your phone doesn’t show you how much time you’ve spend on it, I am more than sure that most of us know the answer – A LOT!
The number of times we pick up our phones is even more horrifying.
I mean, I am not the one to teach how to limit your screen time because my phone is practically an extension of my arm. Still, I have one trick up my sleeve on how to curb that urge to grab your phone every couple of minutes.
Turn your notifications off.
When I want to refocus and get productive, that’s usually one of the first things I do.
Think of it this way: every time you get a message, a retweet, a comment or any sort of update, your phone calls out to you like a siren.
Every buzz, beep and whistle makes us lift our phones and bam! – out goes our focus.
Believe me, the world won’t end if you don’t engage with whatever is going on right away. Tried and tested. And if you’re suffering from FOMO, you might find this post helpful. There are tips that actually work!
What is the most difficult part of getting something done?
That’s right – getting started.
It’s extra difficult when you’re distracted.
Once you’ve done points 1 to 5, it’s time to take action.
What I love about this step is that it’s probably the most challenging one because you have to resist the urge to stay comfortable and step out into what doesn’t feel great. At first.
The moment you cross that line of starting to take action, things will flow much more smoothly.
One of the best tricks I do is starting small.
I know a lot of people talk about “eating the frog” first, meaning getting the toughest and the most uncomfortable thing done first.
I don’t know why but it never works for me. I’d be staring that “frog” in the face for ages without taking any action.
So I start small just to get myself going. Once I’m in the zone, bring in the “frog”!
Easy to say, not easy to do, right?
It’s the exact same thing as those new year-new me resolutions we make.
Very few people stick to them.
No matter what you have planned, or even what you’ve started, it might not be done or finished if you don’t know when you need to do it for.
When I need to refocus and get productive, one thing separates dreams/plans/goals and reality for me. The magical little word – DEADLINE.
Before I set the deadline, I ask myself why it’s important to get something completed by that particular date/time and how I can realistically achieve that by the said deadline (that’s where points #3 and #4 are especially handy).
Even though it’s great to live your life without setting things in stone, I try to do my absolute best not to be flaky about my dealings and actually stick to them. If I’m flaky and I postpone, then either the task wasn’t too important or I wasn’t serious about it.
This is how I help myself refocus.
At the end of the day, it’s best to be honest with yourself and go with what you believe is best for you. In this particular moment and time.
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and let me know what you do when you need to refocus.
Which tips did you find the most helpful?