First and foremost I need to articulate I am not an expert. I am not a doctor, nor am I a life coach. I'm a single mom, hybrid author, student, and full time desk monkey. I've devoted a considerable amount of learning in order to manage the time I have, analyze what works and what doesn't, and still make time to foster creativity in my life.
So with that warning in mind...let's jump in.
In this blog post I'm offering five fresh tips on mastering the art of focus. These posts will be geared toward indie authors, but a lot of them can be adapted to everyday life...for anyone.
1. Write It Down
Seems like a simple thing, and by write it down I mean get a pen or pencil, and an actual piece of paper. Don't add it to your 1,000 task long iPhone to-do list. Get a piece of paper, write down the things you need to accomplish, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment you feel as you scribble out each completed task.
2. Learn Your Roadblocks
Once you begin writing things down you'll notice some things stay on your to-list, week after week. In order to kill those tasks too, you need to figure out what is keeping you from simply completing them.
For example, I had a shirt that needed mending. I put it on my to-do list and kept transferring it to a new week (I make a weekly list) for almost two months. I sat down one day to try and figure out why I just didn't do it. Turns out, for me, when there are a lot of steps involved, or a large amount of initial work investment in something, I freeze up. When I freeze up...I ignore it. (To combat this particular habit see the next step.)
There are many varying reasons why you aren't just fixing your darn shirt. Sit down, think about what is involved in completing the task, and hopefully you can dissect what your roadblocks are.
3. Break Things Up
People naturally do this everyday. Sometimes, though, a little more breaking up is required to motivate you into completing a task. When you want a cup of coffee there are steps involved in doing so, correct? You fill the pitcher with water, pour it in, add grounds, turn it on...etc.
Some tasks require that level of break down to motivate you. The bigger ones can be broken down again, and again. When I worked on my latest book I made a list of every chapter, and under each chapter I put write, revise, and beta. To indicate what steps needed done for each chapter. It helped me finish the book I was stalled out on for awhile. Don't be afraid to break things into digestible chunks.
4. Clean Your Workspace
This might seem like an obvious one, but people don't do it. There are many out there lamenting their lack of focus while their desk is stacked high with books, magazines, washi tape (okay maybe that's just me.) Clutter can allow distraction. Distraction can hinder focus. I'm not saying you have to remove every single thing from your desk, but a clean workspace has been proven helpful to foster productivity and motivation.
5. Build in Excitement
I'm not going to lie. Sometimes we have to complete boring tasks. (see shirt repair example above) A good way to combat those tasks that you just can't seem to manage out of boredom...add some excitement.
Sometimes I don't want to outline. I love writing but HATE outlining. In order to motivate myself into the task I built in some excitement. I enjoy the TV show Castle. Well, I love the humor but more so I love that Richard Castle is where I want to be some day (yes, following a sexy NYC police detective around). Watching Castle create books, outline books, write book etc motivated me to do the things I need to do to reach my goals...which include outlining.
Other ways to build excitement in your daily routine...make it a game, add music, challenge yourself. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this.
Do you have any tips or tricks to improve focus? Something fun you do to build excitement around boring tasks?? Comment below.