10 ways to focus #likeaboss

It’s a big project, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel… but it still seems so far away. To help you stay focused all the way across the finish line, here are 10 tips to keep you on track.

Create an action plan

Break your big goal — a mid-year project for your class, for example — into smaller tasks that you can accomplish, incrementally. Crossing off tasks will give you a sense of progress and keep you moving forward.

Use an agenda

Use a planner to keep yourself accountable. Seeing your project to-dos alongside additional work or study demands, and personal commitments, provides a better sense of how busy you are any given week and helps you set realistic goals.

…or an e-calendar

If you’re a digital diehard, swap the paper planner for a calendar app.

See the big picture

It’s easier to remain dedicated if you can see the big picture. Write down what your “finish line” is, and why it matters. Post this over your work area (or tuck it into your day planner), or make a note on your phone, and refer to it periodically.

Do the easy stuff first

Ernest Hemingway is credited with a writer’s hack that translates into any type of challenging work: quit while you’re ahead. If you’re on a roll, ride that wave to your hard-stop time (you already have it in your calendar). Then put your work away. You’ll be stoked to dive back in tomorrow.

Vent to a friend

Stuck? Sometimes the best way to get past a productivity hurdle is to head to the water cooler. Sharing your dilemma with a trusted colleague — or, conversely, a buddy on the end of the phone who works in a different field — can help you get un-stuck. Your confidant may offer fresh ideas, or, talking it out may help you find the solution yourself.  

Protect your space

Getting into your work head-space can be a challenge if your office hot desks, or if you work in coffee shops. A portable office is a great solution (keep all your project ephemera in one place, such as a large portfolio with your Post-It notes, notebooks and folders, for example). And don’t forget the noise-canceling headphones.

Accept that life happens

From dogs that eat dark chocolate to parents that need a lift to the doctor’s office, life can get in the way of work. If you’ve been chipping away at your project, you can afford to miss a day or two. Live your life and jump back in tomorrow.

Retreat offline

The world won’t fall apart if you disappear for a couple hours. It’s okay to turn your Slack status to “busy” or only answer emails at the top of each hour. If you want to maintain deep focus on a task, consider turning your Wi-fi off completely for the ultimate DND.

Just say ‘no’

Don’t waste mental bandwidth on projects that don’t feed your big-picture goal. Try to delegate or trade work duties that don’t serve your broader purpose. Any random chore you eliminate opens up more time for something more aligned to your objective.

By Staples Canada

January 13, 2020