I must admit. I get distracted. Like easily distracted. I can be in the middle of typing a post, than I’ll switch to googling “How to clean suede shoes,” than I’ll switch to purchasing leopard print calf-hair shoes for 30% off with an online coupon. An hour later, I’ll remember that I’m suppose to be typing a post targeted to be published tomorrow at 9am. Chai! Staying focused is not my strongest suit. That’s why I’m constantly trying to find ways to improve on my productivity skills. Here are some helpful tips I’ve come across.
1. Make realistic to-do lists
Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV)
In order to stay focused, you have to know what you need to focus on. It’s important to write down your tasks daily. More importantly, they have to be realistic. I infamously write down about 15 things to do daily. But, I hardly get past 4 or 5 of them, because I underestimate how long each task will take. Sometimes, I procrastinate on daunting or difficult tasks, which also delays my workflow. It’s best to try to accomplish about 2 or 3 major assignments a day. If you only focus on 3 tasks a day and complete them all, it can be a major confidence boost. Also, doing the hardest task first can boost morale, because the rest of the items will be easy, breezy to accomplished.
2. Organize your space
It’s hard to think and stay focused when there are loose sheets of paper that need to be filed on your desk. An organized space is an organized mind. Try to declutter your work and creative space to optimized your productivity. Don’t leave bills, books or even a cell phone around your working environment if it doesn’t directly relate to the assignment you are accomplishing at hand.
3. Escape from social media
Social media is cool. It’s our way of life these days. But one click on that link for that senator’s daughter’s wedding on Bella Naija you thought would take less than 10 minutes to scroll through literally just took you 30 minutes. Why? You didn’t factor in the time it would take to read through the comments and research her exclusive dress designer. We all do it. I’ve been there too. Sometimes, I think I’m just going to peruse Instagram quickly, but find after going from one account to another, I wasted precious time. Time is a commodity that once spent, you can never get it back. Learn to schedule your social media breaks. It may sound silly, but to be successful in life, you have to be intentional. When you allocate a purpose for every hour you use, it will create lasting structure for your daily success. Also, turn off your notifications, it helps.
4. Tell your Nigerian parents your goals
It seems like once I tell my mom something, even if it’s years ago, she has a way of remembering at the appointed time.
Mom: ” Bisola, you said you were going to get married at 25. You’ve passed that age, so what are your plans now.”
Me: ” I did?” “When.”
Mom: “When you were 12.” (…with a straight face)
LOL. But seriously, Nigerian moms just know how to hold on to their children’s projected accomplishments, even if it was ephermerally spoken. It may just be my mom, but test your parents out too. It doesn’t hurt to tell people who care about your well-being about your plans or goals. They help to hold you accountable. When you’re slacking and have been off your focus, find genuine people around you that can help keep you on track. If they see you getting ready to get comfortable to watch Suga Naija, and you still have to do some work for your dissertation, they’ll let you know.
5. Learn to say no unapologetically
You have to learn how to say no to people, places and things that don’t fit into your priorities at the moment. You can’t attend every wedding, baby shower, or girl’s night out. You can’t buy everyone’s Aso Abi, split every dinner bill evenly and buy every matte MAC lipstick that comes into existence. You have to stay focused on your current goals, despite the inevitable pressure to do otherwise. If you’re trying to go to the auction to buy a car outright, meaning no car note, than you must judiciously guard how you use your money. Stay focused on what matters to you. Say no when you need to and don’t apologize for it. Your friend will still get married if you can’t buy her Aso Abi. She will understand. Wear a dress in the same wedding color palette and you will still fit right in with the other guests. Trust me.
Tell me, how do you stay focused?