Monday, March 18, 2013

Someday is Today: Focus

Last month, I challenged myself to get out more and make more friends. Even though I didn't do many of things that I mentioned (tsk tsk), I still managed to meet people and start some budding friendships. I attended some MeetUp events and stayed in contact with some of the people I've already spent time with. This will definitely be an ongoing goal of mine until I am able to form a strong, local support system and, honestly, that could take years. I'm off to a good start though, so I'm patting myself on the back for now.

Over the last few weeks, I've noticed that I've been having an incredibly hard time focusing and getting things done on a daily basis. It's been especially hard at work. I'll poke around the internet for hours instead of settling down to work on projects and fill requests. There is more than plenty to do at work, so my procrastinating winds up causing undue stress when my deadlines finally roll around. Similarly, I'll sit at home after work and on the weekends and waste away my time if I'm not careful.

I was getting sick of my slothful ways by the end of last week and so I really pushed myself to take care of things that I had let slide for a little too long. I noticed that it was hard for me to do anything because I felt like there was so much going on that I didn't really know where to start. I didn't have a good handle of what needed to be done, so I decided to clean out my burgeoning inbox to see what things I could tackle quickly and rack up some easy wins to motivate me to tackle the larger items. I deleted a bunch of stuff that wasn't important; filed away other emails that were important, but not urgent; and flagged the items that required action. I responded to a few emails that I should have replied to weeks ago and wrote out quick emails I had been meaning to send out for awhile. While I was doing this exercise, I noticed that the new emails that were coming in that required my action or for me to respond  I did right away instead of letting them sit there. My system was working! I think all too often, I mentally turn the request into something much, much bigger than it really is and so I avoid doing it because I think it's going to take far longer than it really does.

In addition to putting in added effort to stay on top of my email, I noticed that when I start to slide down the rabbit hole of social media, if I get up and get some water, use the bathroom, or stretch my legs, I have a much clearer head when I return to my desk and I feel as though I have a clean slate to work with. I need to take advantage of that mindset and get going on a work project instead of checking back into Twitter. Also, it really helps if I don't have any distracting tabs open when I'm trying to hunker down with work. Gmail and Facebook- I'm looking at you!

When I get home from work, it really helps if I just don't even turn on my computer if I can help it. I try to do other things aside of internet-ing: word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, cleaning, reading. If I must turn on my computer, I come up with a game plan before I open up time sucking websites without even thinking about it. If I need to look at a recipe or my checking account or pay a bill or work on the blog, I put my blinders on and only go to those sites. If I get my task finished and there's nothing else pressing, then I give myself the go ahead to check out other things.

Willpower is a funny thing and even though all of these things sound so simple and logical, it can be a real struggle to snap out of being negligent. Hopefully reminding myself of all of these tricks will cause me to be a little more with it this month.

Do you struggle with focusing? What do you do to get back on track?


  1. I work using computers, so I sympathize with how easy it is to lose track of time completely once I find something interesting online. I try to keep a mental or paper list of the things I have to do, either for work or personally, and get those things done before I fall down the rabbit hole.

    1. Yes, keeping a to do list close by definitely helps. I need to get better about having a very clear list instead of a bunch of notes mixed in.