You’re busy. You have obligations. You have an never-ending to-do list.
But part of making big change in your life is creating time and space to focus on your most important work.
This can be challenging. Especially when you are in a situation that you don’t want, are working to bridge the gap to a new situation that you do want. Add to the mix a full schedule, social commitments, and work obligations and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Overwhelm can lead to system breakdown, and soon enough, nothing is getting done.
The following 7 tips can help you focus on the most important, key steps so that you start making progress on on your goals.
1.Reset your expectations
Part of breaking the overwhelm is realizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day; and major changes often take more time than we’d like.
Setting your expectations is key to having the confidence to pursue your goals.
In fact, take whatever goal you have set aside for whatever time period (i.e., Have a new career by next July) and extend it out by a few months.
And remember, while assigning a date to goals a date in mind is great, keep yourself flexible and not tied to it. It’s wonderful if you do find a new career by then (or even before), but if it’s July and you aren’t thriving in your new career, don’t give up all hope.
2. Focus on the important (vs. urgent)
After getting realistic about your expectations, the next step to achieving greater productivity is to focus on the important rather than the urgent.
If you are feeling yourself caught between the urgent (demanding, deadline-driven tasks that someone else has handed you) and the important (things that contribute most to your long term goals), it’s time to take an honest assessment and make some changes.
Depending on your situation, you might have to spend 8-10 hours doing things you don’t necessarily consider important (but may pay the bills).
Even if that’s the case, you still need to find time in your schedule for tackling your most important work. That’s the only way you will truly see progress.
3. Break it down
Big changes are scary and sometimes so intimidating that we don’t know where to start. We know what outcome we want, but we don’t know how to get there.
This is why you want to is to break your big goals down into small, manageable steps.
A great way to figure out where to start is to ask yourself, What is the first step in the process that must be done before anything else?
You can also write down all the possible steps involved and then decide from that list where you want to start. Focus on each step until it’s complete, and then move on to the next step.
Starting small is more manageable, time-friendly, and builds momentum over time.
4. Get single-minded
Yes, It’s possible you can work on many big goals simultaneously, but it’s going to take a lot longer than if you were focusing on just one thing for that same time period.
In order to make progress — especially if you have other commitments that demand your time and energy — you must focus on achieving one thing at a time.
People who focus on a single task get it done more effectively and efficiently.
This is because a clear focus on a single task is easier to manage, both physically and psychologically.
When you have consciously set a goal and keep it in mind daily, it guides your decisions and your actions and helps you stay on track.
Each day, identify the one thing that you will tackle that day. Schedule time on your calendar. Honor your commitment to yourself and do the work.
5. Let go of the FOMO
In order to focus on one thing, you have to lose the FOMO. You know, all of the other things you could be doing instead.
This means that you will sometimes have to make sacrifices in other areas of your life.
Part of making a decision is closing the door on other decisions, at least for now. For that reason, when you choose a goal, make sure it is important to you.
Even when your goal is truly important, there are times you won’t feel like working on it. These are the times to keep in mind why you started, what you hope to achieve, and what it really means to you.
6. Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can actually lead to greater productivity. When you are truly mindful of how you are spending your time, you are more likely to be able to shift back to your priorities when needed.
If you start feeling off track, lost, or overwhelmed, simply stop and ask yourself, Is what I’m doing now getting me closer to where I want to be? If the answer is no, you can change that.
Simply go back to your breakdown of small, manageable tasks and choose from that list.
7. Create time for you.
When you’re scheduling your important tasks in your day, remember to schedule some down time for you: Time when you won’t be working (or thinking about work.) Time that you can spend doing activities that replenish and revitalize you.
Taking breaks is key to raising productivity. The better rested you are, the more likely it is that you will show up every day as the most energetic and focused version of yourself.
Make some time in your day for self-care on a daily basis, even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
If you start with these 7 steps and build from there, you will be on the path to seeing faster progress on your most important work.
I’d love to hear from you. What tips or tricks have helped you focus and complete your important goals?
This is the second in a series of posts focused on improving productivity and mindfulness to help you create a life and business you love. To get more posts like this, sign up here.