I'm the sort of person that gets distracted very easily - like a dog that is chasing a ball you've thrown at but suddenly sees a squirrel and decides to run after him instead! That's what's happening to me too. I chase one thought trying to focus and finish a specific task and then suddenly something else will come up and BOOM, I direct all my focus there, living the first task unfinished. In the end, I feel like a headless chicken running around aimlessly and not accomplishing anything during the day.
(Well, there seems to be a lot of animals in the above paragraph - dogs, squirrels and chickens - but I hope you get the picture!)
After a while I realised that I had a time management and focus issue that I had to deal with pronto! So, through the years, I started using little techniques here and there that have made a BIG difference to me and my life, as far as focusing and managing my time is concerned.
Trying to manage the thoughts in my head seemed like a very daunting task! But I knew it was very important, so I decided to give meditation a try. When you start meditating for the first time, it can be very frustrating. You might think that it is not working because you're trying to focus on your breathing, and all these thoughts keep on popping up. But you have to keep doing it and in the end you will succeed! Trust me. Just don't give up.
The basic thing to understand is, that training the mind is not about eliminating the thoughts in your head, it's about sitting back and observing them from a different perspective and finding a place of calm. I'm using Headspace for my meditation daily in my morning routine for 10 minutes, and it makes such a difference to the start of my day.
2. Making Lists
I am naturally a list maker, so that is easy for me. I make lists for everything! From shopping lists, to packing lists for our weekend trip, to resolution lists - you name it. I find that it puts my thoughts in order, makes me be more organised and then I have less things to think and worry about!
3. Brain Dump Note Book
I used to have little bits of paper floating around on my desk, in my bag or in between books, with all my lists and things I wanted to remember. In the end, I tended to misplace them or lose them - which doesn't help much! So, now I always have a note book dedicated to write every little thing I want to remember. It could be anything, from the things that need to be done in the house, an interesting website, a quote etc. I just put a title on it and the date and then I'm done. Any time I need something, I know I will find it in there.
4. Bullet Journaling
Bullet Journaling is something that I've only recently started, but it has already made a HUGE difference in my life and productivity! It helps me be on top of things and be even more organised.
Bullet Journaling is a simple customisable organisation system on a notebook. You basically create your own planning layout and inserts according to your needs. All you need is a bit of creativity and a notebook. You can find more information about it in the official website.
Apart from having my monthly, weekly and daily spreads that keep me focused, I also create lists that help me with the day to day tasks - like my housework list or my meal planning list as you can see above - among other things. Making things simpler and more systematic can help you worry about less things and have more time to focus on more important tasks.
5. Time Management Bar
One more thing that I've found through bullet journaling that has helped immensely! I draw two horizontal lines above my day header and in between I write down all the hours, starting with 1am and finishing with 12am. This is a line that I use in my Bullet Journal every day, where I track what I do all through that day.
I can plan my day from the night before and set a specific time frame for each task that I distinguish through colour. I've created a colour coding system that works for me, and so now I know just by looking at it where I've allocated my time during the day.
There are 2 more ways of tracking your time, that I know of: the chronodex and the spiraldex.
6. Daily Routine Time Line
This works on roughly the same principle like the time management bar above. It basically gives me a rough outline of a normal day.
That motivates me and keeps me on track, by setting a specific time frame for each task or group of tasks. For example, I know that I can exercise either in the morning between 7:45 and 8:30 or in the afternoon between 8-9:30. Or, I know that the best time for blogging is in the morning from 8:30 until 11:30, when there's peace and quiet and I can really focus on what I have to do.
That doesn't mean that I can't change things around or that I have to constantly follow this schedule. It's just an outline to help me focus my time on. See it like when you go to school and you know the schedule for each class - ie. chemisty at 10, maths at 11:30 and so on.
Again I am using the same colour coding system like in my time management bar to make things easy.
7. Set an Alarm for each Task
For me time flies by! Literally! I start doing something and then it's 3 hours later but it feels like I've only just started. Therefore I need to keep track of the time for each task. The easiest way is to set an alarm for the time you want to have this task finished. This works wonders for me - making me be more focused and work faster.
Taking 5 minute breaks helps you reset your mind frame and refocus.
9. Block all Distractions
This is a very important step. For me usually the distractions can be my phone and social media. Find out what you consider to be a distraction for you and make sure you keep away for as long as you need to finish your tasks. You can have your distractions afterwards as a reward ;)
There's no better feeling than having ticked all your to-do's by the end of the day, and all the above certainly keep me on track. If you have any other focus or time management techniques up your sleeve, please share them with me in the comments below. Every little helps :)
Have a nice day,