Ah, summer. Sunny skies, warm breezes and shimmering water are all calling your name. It’s the time for picnics, gardens, hiking and camping. It’s very hard to concentrate on your work when the great outdoors beckons so alluringly. But the work must still get done. Here are 5 tips for staying focused all week so you can really enjoy your weekends:
1. Make a list of the ways you distract yourself. Do you take a beverage break every half an hour? Do you answer the phone every time it rings? Do you obsessively check your email? Once you know what drags you away from work, you can control how much you do it. Keep a large bottle or pitcher of water on your desk so you don’t have to get up. Reduce electronic distractions by turning off all beeps and alerts.
2. Prioritize your to-do list. Tackle the most important work first, when you’re fresh. Then you can take a well-deserved break before turning your attention to the smaller or less important tasks.
3. Let others know when you’re unavailable. If you’ve got a major deadline looming, the last thing you need is to have other people breaking your concentration and derailing your focus. Communicate, in advance as much as possible, that you will not be able to respond to their needs during the period of time you’ll be working. Remember to let them know when you will be available again.
4. Get away from it all. No, don’t go on vacation! What I mean is, get away from anything that might distract you. If you work in a busy office, sequester yourself in a conference room. If you work at home, close the door to the room you’re in and turn off social networking sites. If you usually work in a coffee shop, try a nice quiet library instead. Less external stimulation will prevent your attention from wandering.
5. Break down and time yourself. Having a giant project with a set deadline can be overwhelming and make you feel like giving up before you even start. But just as every journey is made up of many steps, breaking down a project into smaller tasks helps you feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete each one. When you set specific limits on the amount of time you have to complete a task, it gives you a mini deadline that isn’t big and scary.
6. Sleep & exercise. Don’t forget it’s important to be rested and energized by getting adequate sleep and some (but perhaps not strenuous) exercise when you’re not working. Take a walk, do some stretches, or even hit the pool for a few laps to get your blood flowing and relax your mind. You’ll return to your work rejuvenated and ready for action.
And if you’re still having trouble staying focused, or if your email or phone calls simply must not go unanswered, you can always get help. A virtual assistant can handle your communications while you’re incommunicado. She can assist you in prioritizing and scheduling your workload. She can even set up reminders in your calendar for deadlines in advance so you’re not taken by surprise.
Contact me today to talk about what you need to stay on track and meeting deadlines. I can help!