lost focusCreate a place for your “to-do” lists

When we have so much on our mind (projects, current client loads, family obligations) it can seem like our work is never finished.  I’ve found that clearing the mental clutter in my head by writing into the front several pages of my journal really helps.

When you’re doing writing your list, put them into categories of “1 month, 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years.  You’ll be surprised how many things are on your “current to do list” that you’d really love to work on 3 years from now instead.  Capture these thoughts and then start working towards the ones that should be done this month – first.

These are some techniques that work for me:

a.    Use a notebook or journal that’s with you all the time – set aside the first 10 pages as your “master list” and just free flow write everything that comes to mind.
b.    Use an online service like “teuxdeux.com” and separate the sections with 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years.
c.    Enter them into your google calendar or Outlook and share them with your VA
d.    Use a program like www.teamly.com.  It helps you focus on the Top 5 priorities for today, this week, next week, month and quarter.

Shut off your email

Not completely, but find some kind of solution that works for you while you’re going through this transition.  What’s working well for me right now is this:
•    I scan through my blackberry in the morning to see if there is anything that appears to be urgent, but I don’t turn on email on my computer
•    I get to work and leave my blackberry in the kitchen, and look at it only when I get up for a coffee/tea break or lunch.
•    I spend an hour or so in the afternoon replying to email, and I try very hard to stick with the time limit and not lose focus
•    I allow for free time with email and Facebook in the early evening
•    I simply tell people I’m working on a project for the next 8 weeks.  It’s not forever and most people respect that you’re focused.  It even creates some curiosity.

Remember, you don’t have to always be available by phone, email, text messages etc.


Think of ways to “Trim the fat”

How can you reduce the number of activities you do?  Look at your bank account, credit card statements, phone bills, etc.  Do you have too many ‘bells and whistles’?  Even if you don’t want to take the time to cancel these extra services now, add them to your master list and have a VA cancel them soon.

As you go about your business over the next month ask yourself which of these services are supporting you, and what you’re paying for simply because you signed up for it 3 or 4 years ago.


Action to take:

Pick one thing from the list above you can do today to help you focus.  Begin to create a strategy and plan that fits with your lifestyle.

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