Millennial Mommy’s Guide To Increased Focus + Productivity
By Marie Young (Guest blogger)
My daughters daycare teacher pulled me to the side one day to tell me that my little one was having a hard time paying attention in class. The teacher detailed how she was working on getting my little girl, as well as the rest of the three and four year olds in her class, to focus for a period of 15 minutes. As my blood pressure started to rise, it took everything in my person to not open my mouth and say, “And how the heck do you plan on accomplishing that?!?!?” 15 minutes, eh?!?!? After I calmed down and was able to minimize the amount of times my eyes rolled to the back of my head, I had to let out a brief chuckle.
One, unless this teacher has some candy ducked taped to her forehead, this isn’t going to happen. Two, I don’t even know a handful of adults that can accomplish focusing for 15 minutes, starting with myself.
I realized, when it comes to my own personal goals, productivity and general level of focus, I’m suffering major losses. Life has this crazy way of turning a beautiful day into a complete rat race. There are only so many losses and being curled up in the fetal position screaming #FixItJesus one could take before you realize you have to get your life in order and figure out the best way to stay on course towards your own personal greatness.
Here are a few things I had to get a grip on:
TURNING OFF iMESSAGE
Round of applause for Apple and their genius idea we know as iMessage. Yes, Apple, you’ve managed to simplify my life, however you’ve also become an accomplice in morphing me into a text messaging slave. Even when you silence your iPhone those sweet little text messages still weasel their way onto your Macbook and iPad screen.
If I receive a text message I get overly anxious and feel like I have to respond to it, like immediately. While I must admit, I have been known to drink the Apple Kool-Aid from time to time, I’ve been wising up. I’ll respond when I’m ready.
Do yourself the favor and disconnect from iMessage on your laptop and iPad when you really need to focus.
MAP OUT YOUR TIME
Start mapping out how you’re going to spend your day, on paper. Not possible? I feel you, at first it didn’t seem possible for me either. But, I did manage to pinpoint when I’m most productive during my day and I blocked out this time from the world, and mapped out what I’d work on during this productive time.
Honestly, the modern world is designed to keep you in a distracted state at all times. This mild mental hysteria takes all the focus off of what’s really important in your life, your personal development and achieving your goals. Once these aspects of your life are tended to, everything else starts falling in place.
Time is one of the most valuable things you have, so making effective use of it is extremely important. If not everyday, then at least on those days and times you need to be most productive. This can be done while working on your own personal goals or your while at your office. Set actionable tasks to complete during this time and watch how your life and your level of focus will transform, for the better.
MAKING EFFECTIVE USE OF YOUR DVR
You know how there are stress eaters, yeah well, I stress watch reality TV shows. When I’m feeling emotional or pissed off, my main recourse is to put on something comfy and watch a whole season of Love and Hip Hop. Bad, I know.
It got to the point where I was wasting no less than two hours a day, making sure I knew exactly where Peter, Tara and Amina’s relationship stood. If I was going to be great(er), I had to limit how much time I spent on the couch, so I started putting my DVR to good use. Ensuring that I got some valuable use out of the extra $10 I pay a month to AT&T.
Instead of tweeting live and tuning in when my favorite shows aired, I made sure to record them on my DVR to watch later. We all have those days when we are determined to do whatever it is we please, right? Well, on these days, which I’ve limited to once a week, I watch my recorded programs. If I can’t accomplish this task in a few hours of one day, then I start eliminating which programs I recorded.
UNDERSTANDING WHEN YOU’RE MOST PRODUCTIVE
At what point of your day are you the most productive? It took me 30 years, but I finally figured it out for myself. If I really want to get things cranking, it’s more than likely going to happen before noon. Do not DARE ask me to do anything of importance after lunch, because chances are, I’ll let you down.
Start paying attention to when you’re really getting things done during your day, at home and a work. If you maximize on this time, you’ll get more accomplished.
WORKING IN INTERVALS
After you’ve figured out what times during the day/week that you’re most productive, make it a practice to commit a minimum of 2-3 hours, towards the goal(s) that you are working on during this time.
Work in intervals of 20-30 minutes, then come up for air for five minutes. If you’re really “about that life” don’t check your phone for text messages or emails during this break. Repeat until your designated work time is complete.
CARVING OUT [DAILY] TIME FOR YOURSELF
This was, by far, the hardest thing I needed learn to do. And to be perfectly honest, I still suck at it. I’m a serial snoozer, I reach for my iPhone as soon as I get up and I let my kids completely run me in the morning.
So, here’s what I did: I set my alarm an hour earlier every morning and during this hour, I worked exclusively on personal things I’d been putting off, like reading or writing in my journal. Simply put, your mental state is just as important as work or any extrinsic goals. Take care of yourself and you’ll be ready to take on any task, big or small.
LIMITING SOCIAL MEDIA
You know how they put a breathalyzer in your car after you’ve had so many D.U.I.’s? Yeah, well, I need a “thumbalizer” on my iPhone that will register how often I’ve been on social media for the day.
I have a real problem. I’m addicted to memes, what other people are doing in their lives and seeing pictures of cute kids on my timeline. But, I’m a blogger, being connected to the world wide web comes with the blogger territory.
I’ve become good at using social media scheduling tools that can help combat my addiction, but how about you? For you, I’d recommend removing all your social media apps to your smart phone and check your accounts on your PC once a day.
Too hardcore? Put all your social media apps in one folder and remove this folder from your home screen (move to your second or third screen). When we get bored, we have a tendency to constantly check our smartphone for updates, but if you have to go searching for the app, you’re more than likely to get distracted and move on. Problem solved!
STAY LOGGED OUT OF FACEBOOK
It’s amazing how acceptable Facebook is in the workplace. How many times have you walked up to your boss to see that they keep a Facebook tab open on their desktop? Matter of fact, how many times has your boss commented on one of your posts while you’re sitting right across from them in a meeting? Hilarious isn’t it?
We take this bad habit home with use when we’re working on our own personal goals. Do yourself a favor and stay logged off! While this bad habit is now becoming increasingly acceptable in the corporate world, it will put you further and further back from accomplishing your own goals.
RECOGNIZE WHAT’S REALLY DISTRACTING YOU
Last, but certainly not least, notice what or who is distracting you most. Is it that nosy coworker that just has to detail their whole weekend for you every time they pass by your desk? Maybe it’s your Facebook friends sending you more candy crush lives? Ohhhh, and I can’t stand those dishes always piling up in the sink!
For me, my mind is my biggest distraction. I have [self diagnosed] ADHD and my mind wanders like a toddler would in a candy store. I literally need a to-do task sitting right in front of me, so I can constantly glance at it to make sure I’m working and on target.
Take a deep breathe, practice mindfulness and kindly remind yourself to stay on course. Prepare for this scheduled productive time and be determined not to allow anything, good or bad, take you off course.
This Millennial mommy had to give the daycare teacher a mental “I’m sorry”! While trying to get 15 toddlers to stay focused for 15 minutes is a task I initially thought to be silly, I’m realizing it’s merely a starting point in establishing foundational principles for success.