How to Live Focused
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If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said “I don’t have time to…” my husband could retire.
I think we can all say we catch ourselves saying we “don’t have time” for x, y and z, but we also catch ourselves on Instagram, watching Netflix, and doing a lot of other random things throughout the day that aren’t helping us achieve our goals.
Maybe we should start saying, “that’s not a priority to me,” instead of, “I don’t have time for that.” It would help many of us assess how much time we actually have and what we plan to spend it all on every day.
If you’re ready to live a little more focused next year (or even now), read on.
First things first.
You need to determine where your priorities are. If you want to accomplish more next year than you have this year, you’ll have to change things up. You’re not going to achieve something new by doing something old.
I’ve learned something in my twenty something years of life so far, and that’s that we are always getting busier. I often think, “As soon as I have time I’ll…” or, “When I’m less busy I’ll start…” The thing is, I never find myself less busy. In fact, I always have more and more added to my plate it seems.
The truth is, we all have the same amount of time each day. We all just spend it differently.
So how should you be spending your time? According to priority. Rank the things you must accomplish first, then the things you are passionate that you accomplish, then the things you’d like to accomplish. You’ll find that the less important things get pushed off instead of the more important things.
- Family time
- Personal development
- Physical improvement
If the above looks like your Monday, you may not have a lot of time to relax, but you’ll have kept your job, sown into your precious family, invested into yourself, and no longer need a movie to put you to sleep because you’re exhausted!
Let’s get a little less obvious.
If you want to learn something new, change your lifestyle dramatically, or incorporate something into your life that you’ve never had time to before, it’s going to have to become a priority. The ugly part about prioritizing is you may realize you truly don’t have time for a lot of the unfruitful things you’ve been making time for unintentionally. This takes maturity to accept but something has to be at the bottom of the list.
Priorities can change every day, but in order to actually arrive at a desired goal, you’re going to have to be consistent to some extent.
If you’re having trouble determining your priorities, try to consider the following points.
Is what I’m about to do going to
- Waste time
- Spend time
- Invest time
If you’re investing your time by accomplishing something, it should be a top priority. If you’re done investing for the day and have time to spend, go ahead. If you’re spending time before you’ve invested then you’re actually wasting it. Doing the right thing at the wrong time becomes the wrong thing. Keep your priorities straight and you’ll find your day full of investments that make your tomorrows easier, reveal how much time you actually have to spend, and motivate you to stop wasting time.
Now that you realize you have just as many hours in the day as the President and your cat, and hopefully you’ve determined what is a priority to you to incorporate into that time – you need to find a way to remain consistent.
If your goal is to start working out, you need find a way to fit that into your day. Once you’ve done this you’re successful. However, success is day by day. You might workout today, and you worked out yesterday, but that doesn’t mean you’re successful tomorrow until you do it again.
Some things that help me stay consistent is accountability. Your mind might jump to a confessional type of relationship where you have someone hounding you about whether or not you worked out today, but that’s not what I mean. That works for some people, but I’m talking about being a grown up and answering to yourself.
Write things down (beyond your priorities, make a to-do list), and if you don’t accomplish something you should have, roll it over to the next day. Do this for as long as it takes you to get it done. During this process, assess whether you’re setting too many tasks on any given day. I’m very guilty of this. It seems like a relaxing day to go to the bank, get groceries, and do the laundry, but when I realize I also have to feed my daughter in between it all, unload said groceries, remember to switch the laundry to the dryer and fold, organize, and put away said laundry (and I want to get it all done before my husband gets home) after I’ve cooked dinner and kept the house clean…it’s easier said than done.
If you get into the habit of writing down the things you want to accomplish, you get the satisfaction of crossing those things off your list once you’ve completed them and simultaneously train yourself to be consistent by referring to your to-do list each day and sticking to it.
Consider how much time things really take.
You may want to begin working out 30 minutes a day. Great! Did you think of the fact that you’ll have to change into workout clothes after work, drive to the gym, drive home, shower after your workout (possibly for the second time that day) and wash double the laundry at the end of the week? You’re likely to end up spending more like an hour and half each day to accomplish that goal. That’s fine! But be realistic when you start adding things to your plate.
Something that helps me keep a realistic view of my schedule is sometimes writing down the obvious in my planner. I know I’m going to study every day, I know I’m going to shower, cook, and clean, but if I have everything I need to do written down, I’m less likely to pile more on my day than I have time to accomplish.
If you don’t have a tool to help you keep track of your schedule and commitments, you need to find one. Some people do really well with electronic calendars and lists. I personally love to write everything down and look at a paper calendar. My planner helps me stay on track every single day – even on the weekends.
I have a Day Designer planner because I love the version they offer that gives you an hour by hour breakdown for each day (I have the White Marble Daily Planner). This makes it so easy to fill my day with my priorities at the exact times I will do them and still see where my day can handle some more load.
The more you can outline your days, the better. Each day of my planner also has a top 3 priorities section, a dinner section, an area dedicated to anything that’s due that day, and even a daily gratitude box. It’s seriously the perfect planner for someone who wants to live focused.
If you’re someone who struggles to stay on schedule, I highly recommend investing in a Day Designer planner. Carry it with you like you do your phone and see how it impacts your productivity. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Now that you’ve identified your priorities, determined to be consistent, and have a realistically functioning schedule, you just need to keep putting action to these things.
We all have busier seasons and go through phases of life that halt our dreams and goals, but we can always jump right back on track. If you find yourself struggling to stay focused after you’ve become focused, try a few of these simple things to help you hunker down even more.
Turn off notifications
Our phones are by far one of the biggest distractions these days. Unless you’re getting something that would require immediate attention, tell your phone to leave you alone. You don’t need to know if someone just poked you on Facebook (is that still a thing?), you don’t need to know that there’s a hundredth news story today, and unless you work directly from your phone, you don’t need to know you just got an email coupon from Jiffy Lube. Turn the stinking notifications off. You’ll find yourself looking at your phone a lot less and actually focusing on things that matter. Plus, is it time for you to be on social media again? If you didn’t write it in your planner, then nope!
If you cannot handle getting off social media after a certain amount of time, let a timer tell you when your time is up. Sound a bit extreme? Then you’re not serious about being focused. You’ll continue to waste hours upon hours each week (probably even days) viewing random people’s accounts and walking away with nothing but less time.
When I’ve got to remember to do something that I’ve written in my planner, but it’s very time sensitive, I set an alarm. Never fails. It always helps. Thawing meat is a huge one. For the life of me, I always forget unless I’ve set an alarm. I know someone feels me on this.
Share your goals
My husband often asks me how my days is going and that’s typically when I’ll let him know what I’ve gotten done verses what I want to get done by the end of the day. This helps me realize if I’m on track or not. He’s not asking to check up on me, but it’s still a little reminder of what I need to focus on. Plus, my planner is always lying open and he can see what I’ve been up to. This is also an opportunity to discuss if I need help with something because I’ve been busier than normal. He’s always willing to jump in if I ask.
Find someone who cares that you achieve your goals and let them help you get there. You’re not a failure if you don’t do it alone. You only fail if you just don’t do it.
I have some big goals for next year that I know will require me to get more focused than I already am and I’m excited to take on the challenge!
What are your goals for next year and how will you stay focused on them?
Thanks for reading and have fun focusing!
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