Do you sometimes get the feeling that everything’s moving far too fast? I don’t necessarily mean technology, media, or time in general, though it could all certainly be included. I’m referring to your specific life circumstances. Perhaps, like me, you’ve got a goal looming ahead, and you see dozens of things that need to be done before it arrives. Just thinking of it all makes your head spin. Time flies by. If you’re like me, it’s the vagueness of those “dozens of things” that can stress me out, or as the Brits say, “get my knickers in a knot”.
When I feel that pressure building, I do three things, and I’d like to share them with you:
- Make a list. Break the list down into sections – whether those sections be things like “phone calls to make” or “research” or “phase one” or “today”, you know how best to get your tasks organised. For me, my current list branches out into ten topics, each with sub-sections, not counting my list of daily tasks around the house. I’d encourage you to buy a “to do” pad or notebook pages, or make up your own and print them out; having it written out makes it concrete, and therefore manageable.
Use a time management app. I use two: “aTimeLogger” and “Clear Focus”. I’ve mentioned these both before in my article about productivity (check it out for more tips!). When I sit down to work, I put my phone into airplane mode, open these two apps, and use them to keep me focused. Sometimes I work straight through on one topic and its sections, and sometimes I break it up into several different topics that are related. Set yourself a time goal for the day, and set yourself up to reach it! The time goal of Clear Focus can be adjusted to your needs; I have mine set at 30 minutes, with a long break every 3 sessions; I also have the paid version, which adds a “pause button” – helpful if e.g. the doorbell rings (and I decide to answer it!). The time logger app can be adapted to your needs; I’ve eliminated unnecessary categories and added my own – including writing, editing, and blogging. Also, it’s practical if you’re interested in learning just how much time you spend in any given area; if you think you spend too much time on social media, log it to find out!
- Minimize distractions. Several weeks ago, I removed Facebook from my list of “home page” tabs on my computer; it’s amazing how much that little decision has saved me time! It becomes a habit to check in because it’s there; out of sight, out of mind. Now, I must remind myself to go check in occasionally to answer messages. When you’re working on the computer, and you need the internet open, then minimize the distractions by controlling which tabs remain open, and make your first tab one that prompts you to write or work – a dictionary, thesaurus, etc. If you have websites you want to regularly check out, then limit that time to your 5- or 15-minute breaks (set in Clear Focus) as a “reward” for staying focused. My treat is Pinterest; it’s a place I could easily get lost in for longer than I’d like, so the time app keeps me focused there, too.
I hope these thoughts help you focus, take the stress out of the vague, and encourage you to tackle your goals, whatever they be! Keep writing!
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