How to Stay Focused To Get Things Done

Thursday, June 13, 2019


I'm a victim of the 90's mentality that multi-tasking is a good thing.  Forty different items pop around in my head at any moment demanding my immediate attention.  With that, I strain to zero in on and complete one task.  I constantly have multiple projects open.  My To Do List is a never-ending monster stimulating anxiety.

I broke.  I was tired of never feeling accomplished and frustrated with how long simple items seemed to suck out of my day.  I knew things needed to change.

I started with blocking out distractions...not realizing how 99.9% of my life is a distraction.  I implemented the following items below and I see a drastic increased in my productivity and project completion rates.

Mute Group Messages

Not surprisingly, cell phones and the constant connection they provide aren't helping any. Every time my phone lit up with a message that wasn't for me, it still caused a break in my focus when I leaned over to see who it was from. (For iPhone users, you can tap the little info button within the group messages and slide Hide Alerts on.)  I do this on auto-pilot every time I am added to a group message.  I can check the messages and respond when I'm available without breaking my flow.

Not every message in a group text is for you.  If someone needs your immediate attention, they can reach out to you directly.  It also saves your phone's battery life.

Turn Off Social Media Notifications

Do you really need to know who just followed you on Instagram? Or that your great-aunt tagged you in yet another pasta meme on Facebook? Social media notifications drag you down into a dark hole of social media creeping.  Two hours later you come up from air after stalking the original cast of The Real World's social media channels with nothing left to show for it except useless knowledge about how they all fared after their notoriety. 

Sticking to a strict schedule of when I'm allowed to social media didn't specifically work for me, but without an invite through a notification I'm able to limit my time and only dive in when I have a moment or two to goof off.  The only notifications I receive to my phone are business (eBay, Poshmark, Mercari) related or text messages. Sorry to the all the YouTubers I subscribe to - I'm not running to watch your latest video when they drop.

Make Accomplished Lists

To Do Lists hold the unique ability to crush my spirit. After a long day, seeing the items left incomplete lead to a feeling of utter failure.  No matter how many items were checked off in my Google Keep, the amount of what was left to do still outweighed my success visually.  Thus, Accomplished Lists were born.

An Accomplished List displays exactly what you should be grateful for accomplishing and gives you the motivation to keep moving. I still keep a To Do List, but when I'm able to see what I've completed (in a cute way) it encourages me to do just one thing more.

Put Your Phone on Do Not Disturb When Working on a Deadline

This is the ultimate in staying focused. I create a specific song list or simply replay a song over and over to give me the right fuel for the task so I'm not tempted to play with my phone.  With Do Not Disturb on, my phone never lights up and I can forget it exists.  I can't be dragged into a friendly text conversation or feel anxiety about not sharing my Poshmark closet enough because there's no reminder vibrating on the desk next to me.

I find this to be highly effective in zoning out the world and completing what I've set out to do.  Also, sorry Kristen, because I just dropped out in the middle of our conversation so I could DND my phone and finish this blog post. 

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