Have you ever gone to bed only to think about all the things you left undone that day? It doesn’t feel good, does it? It happens to all of us at some point, but the truth is if you learn to focus throughout the day and stop multitasking, you can get a lot more done in less time and go to bed feeling accomplished. It just takes a little understanding of your own nature, and learning to form new habits that help you focus and get things done.
The truth is, the reason you're not accomplishing what you want is because you've probably fallen into today's multitasking mindset. We're texting during dinner with our family, Facebooking during work, and otherwise finding it hard to focus on one thing at a time. Unfortunately, we've been taught that multitasking is the best thing since sliced bread and we can’t seem to break the habit.
If you love to multitask, this is going to be hard for you to hear, but you must ask yourself if you're really getting everything done the way you want during the day. It’s not a problem if you're waiting in line and checking your email, but if you're trying to do too many things at once, especially things that need your undivided attention, you might find at the end of the day that very little of your plans come together.
Learn to Focus
It’s time to relearn how to focus on what you're doing at the moment you’re doing it. Whether that's your children, your job, or even your leisure time, focus is the only way you can truly do each activity at your very best, not to mention actually enjoy them.
Studies have shown that people who take time to have fun with their children or participate in a hobby they love are more productive at their jobs, but only if they are completely focused on the fun and not thinking instead about everything else they have to do. Conversely, studies also show that multitasking slows productivity at work. If you want to be good at everything, learn how to focus and stop multitasking.
- Write down what you need to remember. If you're in a meeting and you have a point to share but don’t want to interrupt, write down your thoughts. This way, you'll remember what you want to say, but you won't be focusing on remembering it instead of on the meeting itself. It may be a good idea to carry a small pad of paper with you throughout the day to jot down reminders so they don’t interrupt your focus.
- Use a calendar. It might not seem romantic, but schedule everything you do in a calendar. Google Calendar is a good one to use, and you can sync it to your mobile device. If you're the head of a family, invite them to add their obligations to the list so you know what's happening with everyone and when. Schedule work tasks, appointments, time with your family, and even date night. You’re going to get so much more accomplished when you do this.
- Use a timer. You'll be surprised at how much easier it is to focus on a task when you know you only have to do it for a certain amount of time. When you know there is a definite stopping point, your mind can stay on task and get the job done quicker and with fewer mistakes. Some people even reward themselves if the task is complete before the timer goes off.
- Complete a task before you start another. This can be the hardest of all because it’s easy to start one thing and move on to another at the drop of a hat. Before you know it, you have 5 or 6 half-completed jobs. If you remember something that needs to be done, write it down and then finish what you're working on before you go to the next thing.
- Put down your phone or tablet. How many times a day do you check your phone? Put it down and think only about what you're supposed to be working on. Make the decision to only check your phone and emails at certain times of the day. You'll be amazed at the time you'll save. Even as a virtual assistant or other type of contractor, you can put the phone down and turn off the noise.
Staying focused in this fast-paced, busy world is hard. With so many distractions electronic and otherwise, thinking only about what you're doing in the moment takes a lot of practice. The good news is that anyone can learn to focus better. Your productivity will increase and so will the level of fun you have when you’re not working.