Today, I’m home with my kids who are on a 2 week break from school.
It’s been challenging. It’s been good. It’s been hard to get anything done and focus!
That’s what I wanted to talk about today.For me, being struck with inspiration is never the issue. I have far more ideas than I ever, ever have time for. Because of this it can often be hard to get anywhere when you’re trying to get everywhere. It’s very similar to a dog chasing his tail. Watching a dog do it is hysterical, don’t get me wrong, but for a business owner and a mother it’s really destructive and sad. Crash & burn. Ouch. Not where I wanted to be.Reining everything in was hard but there were a few steps that helped me along the way and I want to share them with you. Now I know, you aren’t all business owners. I get that. That said, I truly believe that these are tips that can help you succeed in any aspect of life- whether it’s running your household better, going back to school, or maybe just trying to find more time to pursue a hobby.
Here are my 8 steps to finding your focus & keeping it!
Make a goal- Yeah. Seems obvious, right? You want ____. Well, it’s not that simple. In order to be successful you need a goal that’s S.M.A.R.T. Say what?! That stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Timely. I won’t delve too much into it, but I will share with you this pretty tool I created to help you do it. I strongly suggest you consider writing these out and posting it somewhere you will see this regularly. This goal will be the basis of every decision we make moving forward.
Determine Steps & Prioritize– Now that we know what our goal is we need to work on reaching that goal. Is there research we need to do? What other steps do we need to take? Make a list of all of these and other ideas you have that you think might help you reach your goal. Now I want you to prioritize them. Seems overwhelming, huh? EVERYTHING seems just as important as the next and that’s how you got all discombobulated in the first place!
I’m a visual person so having something I could see worked best for me. I turned to the Stephen Covey
Priority Matrix. If you haven’t used it before it helps you to think of your actions as Urgent vs Non-Urgent and Important vs Non-Important. Don’t want to look it up, well lucky for you I have already designed a pretty one you can have for FREE when you sign up for my mailing list
! Lucky dog, you.
Okay. So you know what you need to do and what needs tackling first. Now comes the task of keeping it all straight. Like I said, I’m visual so I wanted something I could take a quick glance at each day and see what I needed to accomplish. This also helped me from getting overwhelmed. I’ve found a perpetual calendar to be the easiest thing for me to use (like the FREE one I’m offering when you sign up for my mailing list
– *shameless promo*). I also made myself some sticky notes to place on it so I could reuse items and move them around. Frankly, there are days I just don’t “feel” all that into what I have set aside. That’s okay. I look over my week and change it out for something that seems more suited to my mood. Find something that works for you. Maybe it’s an editable desktop calendar for your computer, a simple list created in MS Office, or utilizing your Google calendar. Whatever it is take time to design out your week.
Eat the Frog- I’m sure you’ve heard it before. If not, essentially what I’m saying is do the dreaded stuff first. Once it’s done, your day will feel lighter and you will feel so much more productive and ready to tackle the “easier” things on your list.
Set a Time Limit-
If I didn’t do step #5 I would be sucked into time wormholes left and right. However, if I give myself a time limit to get an item done I find my competitive nature taking over and racing the clock. It also naturally helps to eliminate any distractions I might have otherwise let get in the way. Personally, I like to use the 30/30 app
on my iPhone (I don’t think it’s available for android, but I hear a good substitute is Magic Work Cycle). It allows me to set up a number of fully customizable tasks and run them in a cycle. Make sure to schedule breaks!
Keep a List- Because those great ideas are going to keep coming keep a list of ideas. You’ll find you outgrow some after you think more about them (sometimes even 24 hrs will weed it off your list) and other will be so great you’ll want to act on them immediately. Before you do make sure you review your goal and ask yourself honestly if this will help you to reach it or distract you from your objective. If it’s something that will help further your goal then prioritize it and schedule it accordingly.
Be Okay with “No”– This is a big part to keeping your focus. You’ll never reach your goal if you don’t learn how to say it. I’m not saying shout it at people, though if you did you probably wouldn’t have to worry about them asking you again… However, I do think that everyone has been there and will understand if you say, “I would love to help out, but right now my plate is pretty full. Unfortunately, it just isn’t going to work.” Don’t apologize. I think many women feel the need to start out with an “I’m sorry!” Don’t be. You’ll be surprised how much better it feels to say “no” rather than overload yourself and end up feeling exhausted/resentful/angry.
Don’t be deceived- great opportunities might come up, too, but don’t forget to ask yourself if it’s something that will help you reach your goal. If it’s not, it may just be a distraction and not help you in the end. Don’t want to feel like your slamming the door in Opportunity’s face? Try ending with “Things generally slow down in [insert month], why don’t you check back with me then!”.
ReEvaluate Frequently- Nothing is static. Circumstances change, deadlines can get pushed up or back. Your schedule is flexible so long as you are working with your overall goal in mind. Check in with yourself, reward yourself for your progress and make sure you are still on track for making your goal. Met your goal? Great, go back to step #1 and set yourself a new goal, collect extra credit points!