Find Your Focus

Ever have a day where you can’t keep your head in the game? You start off on one project and quickly jump to another task or reply to an unrelated email. Before you know it, you are so far from the project you started on you don’t even remember why you wanted to do that in the first place.

Are you with me? Does that happen to you? What do you do to refocus?

Here are some things I recommend to help redirect and stick to your priorities:

  1. Write a list of your priorities first thing in the morning
  2. Block out specific time in your day for email maintenance & stick to it
  3. Go offline – If you’re in Outlook there is an offline mode you can leverage, otherwise close your email and put your phone on Do Not Disturb.
  4. If you find yourself swaying from the priorities, go for a walk and reset.
  5. BREATHE – Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by all the things that need our attention, breathing helps refocus us. Remember that what you are doing matters and that if you take a moment to breathe it’s not actually going to make you miss a deadline as much as being flustered is.
  6. Step away from what ever you are working on to eat (instead of eating at your desk). Digestion is affected by how we eat, you will feel better and able to jump back in if you take time to eat and digest.

Are you still thinking, this is great but my day gets thrown off by my boss adding higher priority items to my list midday? If so, be transparent and ask your boss directly if what they are handing you takes priority over what you are currently working on. It’s likely they don’t know what you are focusing on and when you tell them they will adjust accordingly.

If you don’t communicate, you are the one that suffers. You are likely to stress and think I can’t believe my boss is giving me another thing to do. If you take that moment to say “I realize XXX is high priority and needs to be completed immediately but I am finalizing project A today. I don’t mind shifting my focus, which is a higher priority for you?”

Regardless of the response you may continue to feel overwhelmed but at least now you have been transparent about what you are doing and set an expectation. Setting expectations and boundaries definitely will help reduce the pressure you are putting on yourself.