We all want to feel like our best self—focused, productive, calm and lookin’ good while doing it—but some days, we just fall short. Maybe a lot of days, since the pandemic started. But there is no reason for blame or shame, my friends, so tell that negative self-talk to take a hike.
Your brain is not on the fritz because you forgot an appointment, missed a deadline or would rather watch Bridgerton again than clean your apartment. There is a lot of uncertainty still, and it’s understandable to get distracted or fall back into comfortable habits. (Duh, they bring comfort!)
You still gotta pay the bills though, so if you need a little support staying on task right now, I have pulled my Top 4 Tips to help sharpen your focus like a new #2 pencil.
Anchor Your Day
I talked a lot about how important a morning routine is to starting your day off right. When it’s time to get down to work, you can apply the same strategy and create a routine to set yourself up for a productive workday.
James Clear, author of the New York Times Bestseller Atomic Habits, recommends choosing an “anchor task” to center your day around. This is a non-negotiable to-do that must get done that day, and while you’ll still work on other tasks, this anchor is your top priority.
Remember: Action precedes motivation. Taking even small steps towards completing a task or assignment, especially one that you’ve been hesitating on, has a powerful effect on your confidence and mindset. Try this anchoring practice out on your next Manic Monday and see how you maintain your focus throughout the busy day.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart)
Multitasking feels like a superpower nowadays, but asking your brain to juggle fifty things at once is an easy way to stress yourself out.
You only have 100% of your focus to split up. Once you start slicing the pie up for simultaneous tasks, you’re not going to be able to give ANY of the tasks your best effort.
Let’s say you’re driving, while eating and singing along to the radio—that breaks down to 33% of your focus for each activity. How comfortable would you be with someone else driving next to you, knowing they’re only paying attention to the road one-third of the time? See my point?
Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, recommends we give multitasking a rest right now. That means no social media breaks, no television or podcasts in the background and only one browser window with limited tabs. 😉 Keep it simple, and focus on one task at a time.
Stimulate Your Senses
When you’re in a funk and can’t seem to concentrate, sometimes you just need a change of perspective. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can boost your cognitive functioning, such as attention, memory, problem solving, and decision making.
It also has wonderful benefits for your mental health. (Check out my list of ways to clear your headspace AND boost your immunity.) Plan a 5-10 minute walk outside in the middle of your workday to breathe in the fresh air and get some sunshine. (Or build snowmen; this tip works in winter too!)
You’ll come back to your to-do list feeling refreshed.
If you can’t take a break for a walk, even looking at pictures of nature can have the same effect, so change your desktop or phone wallpaper to beautiful landscapes that inspire and relax you.
The Perks of Being At Home
One of the biggest benefits to working from home is the ability to mold your schedule to fit your needs. Even if you can’t make huge changes in your workflow, there may be a little wiggle room to organize tasks around your energy levels.
A recent study by RescueTime found that on average, we are productive for only about 2 hours and 48 minutes each day. That’s not a lot, right?
So you gotta have a plan, and what better place to look than inside yourself! I’m talking about using your internal clock to modify your schedule, so you’re focusing on the most important or difficult tasks at times where your energy is at a high.
While many people comfortably fall into sleep patterns of midnight to 8 a.m., “69% of others have a naturally earlier or later bedtime”. So you may be fighting against your body’s own energy dips during the day, while you’re trying to get things done.
You can discover your “circadian rhythm type” by taking the Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (AutoMEQ). By analyzing your sleep habits and preferred activities during a regular week, the quiz can determine if you’re a natural early bird, night owl or something in between.
How do you stay focused and on task when your day is filled with distractions? Which of these tips are you going to try out first? Let me know in The Badass Beauty Club.
LOVE + a great day!