Have you ever had the feeling that you work your tail off but accomplish very little? It’s like you see this long road ahead, and you run and run, but the end never seems to get any closer. I go through these phases sometimes but if I take the time to think everything through, the reason is typically crystal clear. I’m usually just too busy to do anything about it!
One of the major reasons I find for working hard and accomplishing little is a lack of focus. I know I’m in trouble when I can no longer set priorities. I’ll sit down at my desk, piled high with half complete projects and ideas, and have no idea what I should be working on. I also can’t tell the difference between distractions and productive time. Everything just blends together.
If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels but accomplishing little, possibly it’s time to take a day or two off just to think. Why did you take this job or open this business in the first place? What was your purpose? What do you like to do best? What changes could be made and what decisions are needed? What tasks could be put aside for a while? Take charge and make a change. People often take a couple days off and try to put work completely out of our minds. Sometimes you need this. But if you’ve lost your focus, you need to spend time away from the chaos just thinking, talking to someone, and planning. Otherwise you head right back into the busy schedule and continue to accomplish little.
Here are some other ideas to help you gain focus:
• Turn off your computer and work with paper and pen for a day. Draw, visualize and map out ideas without the distractions of Email, web browsing, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
• Talk to people instead of email. Communication is far better that way.
• Break larger goals down into smaller tasks. Focus on achieving one task at a time. You can clearly see progress which helps you maintain your focus and motivation to keep moving forward.
• Set and keep deadlines for yourself. We all need accountability.
• Keep a time tracking journal. What exactly are you doing every day? Where is time being wasted?
• Stop trying to do everything well and pick one thing to do really well instead. Even if this is just temporary, focus time on accomplishing one important goal rather than working towards 10 at the same time.
In my experience, the longer I get off course, the longer it takes to get back on course. It’s like driving aimlessly for weeks versus a couple hours before remembering where you were headed in the first place. No one likes working hard with seemingly little progress. Take those couple of days off to think. Turn on your internal GPS. Remember what you like to do, how you like to do it, and what you hope to accomplish by this time next year. Then plan your course. The added benefit is that priorities will be clearer and you’ll be able to recognize distractions for what they are. We all need a distraction every now and then; it’s just nice to be able to recognize them.