When I was younger, I would walk into my office with my coffee and plug in my computer. I would take a quick look at my email, and maybe surf the net for a bit.
I have some long term goals that I need to work on, but I also have some tactical, day-to-day tasks that need to get done. “What should I do next?”
Okay, I’ll work on the day-to-day tasks. Everything seems good, and then the phone rings.
It’s a customer issue that I could probably delegate, but I decide to do it instead. My excuse is “It’s easier to just do the task then to delegate the task.”
The day is over the next thing I know, and I haven’t gotten to the long-term task that I really need to get done.
And that is how you lose focus and become distracted.
Now, in all fairness, there are always emergencies that you need to deal with now. That’s life.
But I’ve (hopefully) gotten a little smarter as I’ve gotten older. I’ve learned, at least for me, that I will lose focus and become distracted if I don’t have a plan.
Long term planning is challenging (You can read more here: https://www.brettjfox.com/how-to-crush-your-big-hairy-audacious-goals/), but you’ll never achieve your long-term goals if you keep getting distracted and lose focus.
Here’s how I stay focused and ignore distractions every day:
A. It starts the night before. I know what needs to get done (long term and short term), and I schedule the next day accordingly.
I put everything I want to do into my calendar starting with my morning routine at home. Everything is on my calendar:
5:30AM - Exercise
6:00AM - Morning routine
6:45AM - Shower
7:00AM - Breakfast
You get the idea. And here’s an important tip that works for me:
B. Schedule breaks. I like to put 15 minute to 30 minute “breaks” between tasks.
These breaks keep me on schedule just in case a task takes longer then expected. Then I…
C. Stick to the calendar. I have a simple rule: I don’t work on it if it’s not on my calendar.
This doesn’t mean I don’t break from my schedule. It does mean that there better a really good reason for me to break from my schedule. Then..
D. I repeat the process. I do this at the end of the workday. I review if I need to make any changes and then I schedule the next day.
I can see the difference in my productivity when I don’t schedule my calendar. There are just too many things pulling at me that seem important in the moment. And my productivity is shot before I know it.
Everyone is different. The calendar methodology works for me. Will this work for you? I don’t know.
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