We’ve all been there…you sit down to work for the day but aren’t exactly sure what needs to get done. You spend a little time looking at your to-do list and pick a task. Part way through, though, your phone blings, a new email pops up or you remember an approaching deadline.
Next thing you know, you’re responding to messages, jumping from task to task and forgot what it was you were doing in the first place.
I know I’m not alone here.
But I’m also happy to say that this is now the rare exception for me, rather than the rule. And it can be that way for you, too!
I’m going to teach you 4 ways to feel more focused and less scattered and distracted, so you can feel in control of your day and give your clients the undivided attention they deserve.
Why you need to stop multitasking
First things first – you’ve got to stop multitasking! I know, I know, we’ve been sold on multitasking as this amazing skill (and women have been praised for their multitasking abilities for years), but the reality is that you will never be as efficient trying to do multiple things at once as you will be when you are fully focused on a single task.
If you pride yourself on your multitasking abilities or it has simply become a habit for you, the steps in this post will help you transition to a new way of functioning. One that feels more calm and intentional.
The urge to rush and multitask often happens when we have a lot on our plates and it feels like there isn’t enough time to get it all done.
We’re afraid to stop moving for fear that everything will come crashing down around us.
When we’re in this sort of frantic, have-to-do-it-all-right-now kind of state, slowing down feels impossible.
It seems logical that if we multitask, we’ll get more done, but this is not the case
Jumping from task to task might make you feel like you’re doing more, but it’s actually going to take you more time to complete each piece because you’re breaking it up and forcing your brain to shift gears over and over again.
And when you’re rushing and putting out fires rather than being intentional with your work, you’re also more likely to make mistakes (which will definitely cost you time, energy and stress in the long-term).
Benefits of focus
The antidote to frazzled multitasking…single tasking! And it’s just what it sounds like – focusing on one single task at a time.
Increased attention span and flow
This can be easier said than done when you’ve gotten used to the multitasking life. But focus and attention are skills you can practice and improve at. It’s a bit like strengthening a muscle and over time, you’ll be able to stay focused for longer periods of time.
This increased focus and attention span also provides more opportunity to get into a state of flow and creativity.
Less stress and overwhelm
You know that helping you feel less stressed is a BIG one for me. I want you to feel more at ease during your workday AND feel like you have energy left at the end of it for everything else going on in your family and personal life.
One of the main ways we can reduce stress is by experiencing less overwhelm. It’s much easier to feel calm when you are looking at ONE thing instead of ALL the things. Focusing on a single task and blocking out the noise of everything else vying for your attention helps you slow down and makes it all feel more manageable.
By focusing your attention on one task at a time, you can get things done in less time.
You might even find ways to use that extra time and creative energy to go deeper into your work.
And as a bonus, you’ll probably deliver higher quality work, as well. And happy clients is what we’re all after, right?
4 ways to feel more focused
My first tip isn’t work-related, but it will absolutely help you in your work.
Take care of yourself
This isn’t about long midday naps and bubble baths (though those do sound amazing). It’s about taking care of your basic needs throughout the day and knowing your stress cues.
One of the telltale signs to me that there’s too much on my plate or I’ve slipped into multitask/emergency mode is that I keep telling myself, “I’ll take a break when…” or “I can stop when…” and try to power through.
When I’m in this state, nothing feels like enough. I feel like I can never stop – when really, that’s exactly what I need to do.
If you feel like you’re dragging or stress is creeping in, do a quick self check-in. Are you hungry? Have you been sitting too long and need a short movement break? A quick trip to the bathroom? Taking care of your body makes it easier to care for your mind.
And when you slow down and make sure your basic needs are met, you won’t feel as mentally and physically drained at the end of the day.
Have a plan
No more sitting down for your work time, staring at your laptop screen and having no idea what to do first!
If this is something you struggle with, definitely check out my blog post on creating your ideal week.
A few tips to try:
- Plan blocks of time when you will work – you can even break these down into blocks for client work and time spent working on your own business growth. Put it on your calendar and stick to it!
- Prioritize – everything can’t be the most important. Look at your commitments, goals and deadlines and choose the top 3-5 things you want to tackle in your next work section. Then decide what you’ll do first, second and third.
- Schedule in breaks and wiggle room – plan on time to eat, stretch and respond to unexpected things that may come up (because they pretty much always do!)
Turn off notifications, close your email, put your phone on Do Not
Disturb…whatever you need to do to make all the ringing and blinging stop.
Set a few times each day to check in on email and messages and ignore them in between.
Once you settle in to work on your planned tasks, use tools to support your focus.
Batching your work is a great way to keep your brain focused on the task at hand with minimal switching back and forth.
You can choose to batch like tasks (i.e. podcast support or social media scheduling for multiple clients) or group one client’s work together. This is an especially effective strategy when you need to be in your client’s voice or brand because it allows you to immerse yourself into their business for a set amount of time.
And because none of us have an indefinite attention span (or limitless time to work), use a timer to keep you on track with your plan for the day.
According to the PomodoroTechnique, the ideal unit of work is 25 minutes followed by a 2-5 minutes break (perfect for some deep breathing or a quick snack).
There you have it – 4 simple ways you can feel more focused and get more done with less time and stress.
These are all things you can implement right now to start feeling better today…and they’re free!
So, no excuses – Choose one of these strategies and give it a try this week. I’d love to hear how it goes!