What’s that? That over there? Something glimmering… shiny… is that glitter? Is that a glittery unicorn galloping toward me with a basketful of bacon?!
No, it’s just another random thing I HAVE to do. Or, so I think. I don’t really need to do that right now. Or do I? What about this shiny thing over on my other side staring at me: do I need to tend to that right now too?
If you are like me, and sometimes the victim of Shiny Object Syndrome, but you have deadlines and people who rely on you to focus and get it all done, I’ve got some tips to share that have (somewhat) helped me survive the madness and stay focused at work. I say “somewhat” because, hey: I’m human, and I still get suckered into the distraction vortex.
1. Turn off your phone. For those of us whose work requires creativity and concentration, the sudden buzz of a mobile on vibrate or blare of a ring tone in the middle of writing an amazing sentence or designing The Best Logo Ever can set your productivity back about 20 minutes. That’s a big chunk of time in a busy woman’s workday. Turn off your phone, and return messages when you are at a good stopping point in your work flow.
2. Set specific times for e-mails. On deadline days, try to only check emails three times during the traditional work hours: for instance, at 9am, at noon, and at 2pm. That’s it. Having set times to check emails frees you up to focus on your work. We all know you can’t just check email: checking emails leads to having to find a file for Jonny (now where DID I put that file?? Commence 7 minutes of searching through desktop folders), looking up information to respond to Sarah (commence 12 minutes of fact-checking), and three new emails that need to be sent to Mabel, Mildred, and Margaret in order to answer Harriet’s email (commence 2 hours of emailing, waiting, checking, drafting, arguing, finalizing info).
3. Shut off social media notifications. I have no idea why people have their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts set to send them emails everytime someone replies, mentions their name, tags a photo. Turn off these notifications and you will hear angels singing a choir of sudden beautiful, silent peace of mind, my friends. It is that silence that will propel your productivity forward. Trust me on this one.
4. Do something else. What the what? Isn’t this supposed to be a blog post about focus? Sometimes, you have to redirect your energy in order to bring your focus back. Sounds counterproductive, but it’s actually a method that helps me tremendously. Right now, in fact, I am in the middle of several writing assignments with looming deadlines. I got stuck, as writers often do. Facebook will not help, but channeling my professional focus into another, related-yet-different work endeavor (such as writing this blog post!) will. I am still using my brain, but in a different way, which jostles the creative juices and helps bring me back on track once I hunker down and get back to the original task at hand. If you get stuck at work, try an activity that is related but different enough to get your mind flowing again, and then go back to the original task at hand once you feel the momentum pick up again. Bonus: in the end you will have two projects completed!
5. Get up, move, and eat. Not always in that order, but doing these three things can help you stay focused and regain focus. If you are sluggish from sitting in the same place without movement for an hour, you are counterproductive. If you are cranky because you’re hungry, you’re being counterproductive. Get up, move, and eat. Simple, yet effective in keeping distractions at bay and honing that razor-sharp focus you know is within you.
What do you do to stay focused at work?
MOB Monday = Mom-Owned Biz Monday. Each Monday, we tackle tips, tools, and stories to help working moms and mom entrepreneurs maneuver through the work/life madness.