Thursday, March 3, 2016

How to Focus

It seems so easy, doesn't it? You need to write that term paper, edit the chapter of the novel you're working on, or finish your taxes. It has been on your to-do list all week. But things keep getting in the way. You get busy, someone interrupts you, or you sit down to work on it and you just get stuck. What do you do?

1. Use the timer on your phone. Tell yourself you're going to work on it with complete focus for 5 minutes. Don't allow yourself any distractions for the full five minutes. If the doorbell rings, ignore it. Turn your phone off. You can do anything for five minutes, right?

2. When the timer goes off, congratulate yourself. Getting started is by far the hardest part. You did it!

3. Do you have another five minutes in you? Yes? Reset your timer and do another five minutes.

4. You hit a point where you feel that tug that tells you to stop. You want to check your Facebook, refresh your email, get a snack. You have an unexplainable urge to google the song lyrics you've been wondering about. Take a deep breath and identify what triggered that feeling. Did you just run into a question you couldn't answer? Are you experiencing self-doubt? Once you recognize what's causing you to want to quit, it has less power over you. If you have a pen and paper nearby, write it down.

5. Keep going. Can you press through the rest of the five minutes despite the resistance you feel? Yes! And every time you overcome this resistance, you're making it a little easier to overcome the next time.

6. Do you think you can do more? Reset your timer for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, but try to keep the intervals short enough that they seem easily attainable. We want your brain to think - Pshaw! That's easy. I can do that. Not - Whoa! Let's go watch those cat videos on youtube again.

7. Keep going. You've got this.


  1. I loved this, Julie. Especially your suggestion to evaluate what makes me want to stop an activity and do something like check Facebook. Great words here!

  2. Julie, I've really been enjoying this series you've been doing about productivity and goals, etc. : )