Preview: How can you stay on task when there are so many distractions? Avoid these three common obstacles that might be sabotaging your efforts.
You’ve hopefully taken some time to identify your top priorities and make a plan for your day. You don’t want to sabotage those efforts, so let’s talk about common obstacles that might be preventing you from staying on track.
Obstacle 1: Not Knowing What To Do Next
One of two things often happens when you don’t have a plan for your day.
- You feel aimless and are likely to do something that requires little mental effort.
- You might get sucked into a seemingly urgent activity.
Knowing what you want to accomplish during the time allotted to do your tasks provides an incentive to buckle down and get it done.
It helps to have a clear goal. Start by identifying your big rocks and what you want to accomplish in each area. Then, break your goals or projects into smaller tasks. Try to break a project into bite-sized steps that can be accomplished in one work session. A pro-tip is to begin each task with an action verb; it doesn’t change the task but primes you to know what to do. When you have your project broken down into bite-sized pieces, you can choose the next task to work on when you are ready to plan your day.
Obstacle 2: Distractions
Reduce distractions as much as you can! It is so hard in our current society to do that. Several options for reducing distractions include:
- Turning notifications on your phone and computer off.
- Use a focus status on your phone.
- Close tabs on your computer that you are not actively using.
- Keep your physical surroundings tidy to reduce visual clutter.
- Find a quiet place to work. (I know, easier said than done!)
I know how hard it is to reduce distractions, especially if you have young children, but when you identify what is important to you, what tasks require focus, and how much focus you need, you can get creative to find ways to reduce distractions so you can focus.
Obstacle 3: Multitasking
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but multitasking is a myth. It is not possible to do two tasks at once; you are actually switching quickly between two tasks. It is possible to do one task that is automatic, such as doing the dishes or folding the laundry, while engaging in a cognitive activity, such as listening to a podcast or audiobook. But when you try to do activities that both require cognitive attention, you get less done than if you were to focus on one task at a time because you are not attending to both tasks.
Studies show that we lose quite a bit of productivity, up to 40%, when we try to multitask. You have to regain your focus when you switch tasks back, and you may lose 25 minutes of productivity each time. Instead of trying to accomplish more at once, commit to a single task and get it done before moving on to the next task. This comes down to a shift in your mindset. Are you willing to focus and do that one task until you’re finished?
You can conquer your day and stay on task when you
- Know what to do next.
- Reduce distractions.
- Stop multitasking.
This is the final post in a Take Back Your Days Challenge Week. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series.
- 1: How The Rocks In A Jar Analogy Can Help You Fit More Into Your Day
- 2: How To Know Your Priorities And Let Go Of Fear, Guilt, And Shame
- 3: How Realistic Expectations Help Me Plan My To-Do List With Confidence
- 4: 3 Benefits Of Scheduling Time To Plan Your Day
- 5: You Can Stay On Task By Eliminating These Three Common Obstacles
Also, check out the free email challenge to help you get control of your days.