You know how it goes. You start with a goal of cleaning the kitchen, then you have to take something to the living room. When you get to the living room with said item, you see a stack of papers that need to be organized. You start organizing. 10 minutes later, you realize you’re supposed to be cleaning the KITCHEN!
Or perhaps you sit down to check email. Yep. Email is the worst! You sit down, you click on the first email and you spiral down into a deep pit of “what the heck am I doing?” and you don’t know how to get back.
Today, I was talking to someone in a similar situation. She had a todo list. She crossed off a few things, but she was complaining that the squirrels would get her in the middle and she’d forget what she was doing. She was sure she’d never get through that list today.
We’ve all been there and it is tough to stay focused, that is very true! In the midst of the conversation with my friend, I shared a few tips that I use and thought I’d share them with you!
1. When cleaning the house: If you find something in focus room that needs to go into non-focus room, take it there but set it all in a pile. Then, when you get to focus room, you just have a pile to tackle. This way you aren’t cleaning the ENTIRE house in one moment. You’re cleaning room-by-room and keeping the squirrels in the rooms where they need to stay!
2. When answering emails: Get yourself a todo list. It can be on paper, but I personally like Todoist. When you open an email and it it something you need to do, rather than hopping after that squirrel, write it down on your list. Or, if you’re using something like Todoist, use their tools to move that email over to the list. The nice thing about an online tool for this is that it will also link to your email to help you remember the task.
3. When working on several things in one period of time: If you’re a business owner, you know what this looks like and it can be CRAAAAZY! Something that helped me stay on track (even though keeping on track is not the reason I started using it) is to use a time tracker for your tasks. I use Toggl. How does that keep me on track, you ask? It allows me to tag each task to a specific project or company. Once I got into the groove that everything I do is time tracked, it became almost annoying to have to go back to my time tracker to flip between tasks. So, what happened is, I started staying on task for that specific task until that task was complete. Now, it is almost a freeing moment (similar to marking through a task to show it complete) to hit that STOP button to make the timer quit.
4. Handling that task list: As my business grew and grew, I would look at my Todoist list and nearly hyperventilate. Where do I begin? Well, I have had to train myself to sit down, take a deep breath, and begin with 1. Good ol’ number 1. Set my timer…..and do it. Then, do number 2 and so on. Otherwise, we hunt and peck through to find the tasks that are easy or the tasks we WANT to do rather than the ones that might be difficult or just honestly annoying.
5. Handling that task list #2: Another tactic I have, if starting at #1 just isn’t an option…..make a “Get it done right now, no excuses, just do it” task list. I actually came across some sticky notes that say “To Do TODAY” on the top and it has like 5 lines on it. I use those as my “Get it done right now, no excuses, just do it” task. Sometimes, simply seeing 4 things on a list somehow makes them easier to do. So go to the 100 item list, make smaller lists for the time you’re working on RIGHT NOW, put your Nike’s on and “Just do it”.