Or: How I focus my nut-gathering squirrel brain on the big picture and get stuff done.
First on the list, is when you write a super long blog post (like this originally was), turn it into TWO blog posts! This is the first installment, and to save myself time, I will post Part 2 next week. See? Productive, Grasshopper.
And here are the first 7 tips:
- Turn off the internet. I make myself crazy. I’ll be writing an email, then think of something I want to find to attach to it, then realize that document isn’t actually finished and ready to attach, then I go, “Oh, FACEBOOK!!” (might as well be ‘SQUIRREL!’) and find a video that I then watch, and decide to share, and then blog about and, and, and. Eventually, my email blings or beeps or whatever it does and I go back there, only to find the original email, abandoned (and perhaps crying softly to itself) and waiting for an attachment. What attachment? Oh, the one that isn’t quite done yet….and ON. IT. GOES. Seriously. Yes, I admit I am easily distracted by shiny objects. By removing access to what I feel may be a drug at times, it helps.
- Plant my phone in the music dock thing, which is across the room, or leave it in my bag, by the door. See above…when my phone is on my desk, it’s just another fun way to dick around. The text about dinner next week? Probably doesn’t need to be answered right away. GAH.
- Set timers – I am a big fan of this one. If a task isn’t all that appealing to me, or I am getting particularly distracted by, well, everything, I set a timer for 45 minutes and go to town. When the timer is done, I get to screw around for a few minutes and be smug about all that I just accomplished. I use this with housework, writing, bookkeeping, email-answering, email inbox clean-outing, phone dates with old friends and anything else I really want or need to focus in on.
- Play music – the phone is in the dock, why not pump out a playlist – again, the key is that this appliance is about 12 feet away from me and I have no interaction with it beyond turning the volume down with the little remote control. I also noticed that Madame Butterfly set a certain mood, as did Yoyo Ma and my Flirty Dinner-Making playlist…I try to choose the tunes based on what I want to get done.
- Keep what I need to actually work close by – this is about my workspace, I try to keep it tidyish; I have the files for the clients I am speaking with on any given day at the front of the filey thing, I have their information in front of me before they call, and it’s easy to complete each call’s paperwork as it ends. I also just have everything I need close by. This includes the foot-warming basset hound.
- I have a file for almost everything. In theory, this is to prevent piles of papers everywhere that are related to nothing and need to be dealt with. So each client has a file (even if I will only speak with them once), I have one for things that need money thrown at them, groceries to buy, events I am going to (the file holds the tickets), projects, workshops, etc, etc. It’s super easy to grab a file and have everything I need to work on it without getting distracted.
- Take photos of things. I love me some post-it notes. I make myself crazy. Despite numerous coach-like conversations (as a client) with my super calm and patient computer guy about using my i-devices to record my random brain toots and ramblings, I still grab post-its to record many, many things. When I get tired of shuffling them across my desk or have forgotten what the note is even about, I often take a photo of it before happily recycling it. It satisfies the OCD chick in me who is a hoarder of information and is paranoid I will forget my own name and address if it isn’t recorded somewhere for me to stick on the fridge.