How many times has this happened: you have a great weekend, you’re ready to go for Monday morning, and then something happens and it all hits the fan. You’re behind before the week even begins and you’re in a super bad mood. It really shouldn’t be this way, but this is the reality of life.
What can you do to stay ahead of the game and push through even the most maddening distractions to your productivity?
Here are five suggestions to help empower you to stay focused and make the most out of your day, even when life throws you some curveballs.
1. Have a Game Plan
Sure life happens, but if we have some set-in-stone things that we try to commit to every day that empower us, it will prepare us for whatever our day may bring. These set-in-stone rituals should be things that you need to fuel your body, soul, and spirit. They prepare you to face the stresses of daily living. Therapists call it good self-care skills. Things like a good physical workout, a quiet time of meditation and prayer, reading something that might be intellectually stimulating and fueling your body with healthy nutrition.
2. Set Goals Daily
We know that goal setting is important, but lots of folks think in terms of setting long and short range goals, not daily goals. Start by making a list the night before of the things that are priority accomplishments for the following day. If the first 3 get done, you’re good. If more get done, that’s an added benefit. In order to set daily goals, you have to plan for obstacles. That means you may have to say no to certain distractions or requests. It means you may have to delegate duties to others. If you have trouble doing these, you need to be curious as to what’s driving that.
3. Be Flexible
We all love to plan. But when our best-laid plans go up in smoke, we have to flexible and come up with creative ideas to make things work in the moment. Flexibility requires that we learn to control our emotional responses. We can’t go around freaking out when things happen because guess what? They will. We have to learn adaptive ways to calm ourselves and focus in the middle of the storm. Things like learning to control the breath and muscle relaxation help. I also teach my clients to scan their bodies for tension at least twice a day. This requires you sit quietly for 10 minutes and focus on each part of your body starting with your head and ending with your toes. You want to scan for tension and any other sensations you notice. Staying calm and focused is the key to a successful day, not to mention your health and overall well-being.
4. Get Rid of Distractions that Weigh You Down
This one is hard. How many times a day are you tempted to answer your phone, check your email, or Facebook page, or shoot out a tweet? Productivity won’t happen if you’re constantly being interrupted by dings, pings, and boings. So turn ’em off! There will be plenty of time for them later. You also need to beware of people who are time suckers. Sure you want to help everybody, but some people will talk all day long if you’ll listen. Know who is draining you emotionally and make the necessary adjustments to deal with it. Time management is key to productivity.
5. Go to Sleep!
Turn off the TV, the computer or your iPhone and go to sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to problem solve and be productive will be dramatically reduced over time. You may be able to pull off 6 hours a night when you’re young and don’t have a family, but sooner or later, this one will catch up to you. When you sleep, you heal and repair your body. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Sleep also helps your brain to function optimally and improves learning.
None of these practices will guarantee that life and work will always go smoothly. The unpredictable rhythm of life assures us of that. But when we’re on our A-game, we are able to handle most of what life throws at us and keep the ball rollin’.