“The essence of anything is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.”
Stop for one moment. What 3 things have you thought about in these last 3 seconds? Was it thinking about what to cook for dinner? Who to pick up from where? Whether or not to pay a bill? If you responded to an email, and on, and on? Welp, I’m here to tell you that this rapid-fire thinking is one contributing factor to the word we love to hate: procrastination.
Procrastination is essentially the delayed doing of something. Nothing more, nothing less. However, what is causing the delay? Overwhelm. We’re overwhelming our minds with the laundry lists of things to complete, phone notifications, and email pings that by the time we need to get them done we’re exhausted. If you find yourself constantly living with a racing mind then consider incorporating these practices into your daily life:
Establish Your Non-Negotiables
These items are protected from the world. For me, they are my mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. I prioritize my devotional time in the morning prior to picking up my cell phone and giving my fresh energy to everyone else. I cherish my ritual of a morning cup of coffee as I read, write, reflect, and plan my day. I then make sure to keep my commitments to my workouts which have become less of a chore for me, and more of an opportunity to relieve stress. These practices come before anything. The benefit to establishing your non-negotiable items is strengthening you to establish firm personal boundaries which will carryover into the rest of your day. Others will begin to respect your time and tasks because you are.
Get To Know Yourself Again
See what we did there? 😆 It's easy to dream up a vision, but it is much more difficult to get in the trenches and do the work day-in and day-in to keep things going. If you want to get things done then make a habit of revisiting your reason for doing everything you are doing in the first place. Look at what you wrote down. Feel yourself in the space of what you created as your definition of success. Connect to that deeply. This one practice alone will evoke a strong connection to what you are after. After you do this, consider how you work. Are you minding your body’s natural rhythm? Are you thinking about when you work your best and scheduling the most important items during that time or are you always in “go-mode?” It’s important to pay attention to things that drain you instead of energize you.
A good example of this would be my recent struggle with studying for a new certification I’m pursuing. It’s been more challenging for me to stay focused because of a little seasonal cold, my husband’s game schedule, and other life things. However, this wasn’t the first time. I spent time thinking about it and realized that it’s because I’m having to read on the computer screen. Electronic reading/studying is not my style at all. I love a good hardcopy to feel, write in, fold the pages and actively engage with. This personal preference is making it harder for me to get this one thing done. Thankfully, there are audio versions of the lectures so I have adjusted my study style by listening to those and writing detailed notes in my notebook to make up for not having a hardcopy textbook with me. The point here is to think about these things that might be preventing you from doing something. While they might seem small, they are subconsciously serving as barriers. The only way to overcome a barrier is by knowing it is there in the first place.
Lighten Your Load
The last way to overcome procrastination and increase your focus is to simply become comfortable doing a few select things with 100% of your attention instead of doing many things at 50%. Our culture seems to praise the multi-tasker. They are deemed as more productive. But, as I’ve said before, busy isn’t always productive, and productive doesn’t always mean busy. Sometimes, we procrastinate on the big things because we have literally used up all of our precious energy on the little things. Stop. Assess your life. Think of what items can go without getting done; what someone else is capable of doing; and what should not even be on your radar. This practice alone will lift the weight of constantly doing off your shoulders.
While there are a million ways plastered on the internet about productivity hacks to overcome procrastination, my main focus is to get you to “hack” yourself so you don’t spin your wheels trying a number of different methods that will not work for your unique process of working, creating, and doing. The hope is that these three foundational starters will give you the launching pad to create your own unique path to focused production. Cheers!