Five tips to stay focused!

I was thinking the other day how easy it is for one to be distracted. So many people, activities, tasks, businesses are vying for our attention (and our hard earned money!) If like me you exist on various platforms of social media, you need a level of discipline in order to maintain balance in your life. I use social media to network with family, friends and acquaintances as well as promote my blog. I frequent on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. I am joined to twitter and Periscope but for some reason they did not “work” for me. Perhaps I needed to increase my “fanbase” first – who knows.

Anyway back to the point, I try to minimise the amount of time I spend generally surfing the internet.  If I do not caution myself, I can lose an hour or two just looking at photographs on Instagram. As great as some of them are, it is not a good use of my time. Rather unproductive and does nothing to enhance my blog or other projects I am working on.

It is good to remind ourselves of the importance of keeping our eye on the prize; remembering what we are aiming for and working towards it.  This will mean sacrificing your time and perhaps your money. Only you know the goals you are working towards and only you are responsible for ensuring you meet them.

There will always be distractions and we need to acknowledge them for what they are, choose to say no and place our focus where it needs to be. Taking time out to reflect and plan ahead is essential yet how many of us can put our hands up and confirm we do this?  I read that Bill Gates, co founder of Microsoft Corporation travels for at least one week every year to a remote location in order to plan.  His time out is clearly paying off (and then some!)

My five tips below will better equip you to remaining focused;

1. Refrain from logging onto social media the minute you wake up – easy trap to fall into. Instead pray or speak affirmations over your life and then do some light exercise.

2. Assign 15 minute time slots during the day in which to log onto social media.

3. Do not allow others to monopolise or plan your time whether they be family or friends.

4. Plan your time around work/running your business. Be productive and honour it.

5. Write a daily “to do” list noting the most basic of tasks to the more complex tasks. Any tasks you do not complete that day, simply carry over to the following day.

I hope my five tips will help to steer you in the right direction.

Perhaps you can share your experience of not yielding to the many distractions in life;

What worked for you?
In which area did you/do you struggle in?

Advertisements

Get some order in your life!

The majority of people I meet all seem to have one thing in common – there are simply not enough hours in the day.  We can underestimate just how much responsibility we have on a day to day basis; running a home, working, running your own business, raising children, being a carer, church ministry, voluntary work, administration and so on. In all of this you really can lose yourself and feel utterly exhausted too.

I have woken on many a Saturday mornings and felt completely overwhelmed with the number of tasks I have to do. Generally I use my Saturday mornings to clean and bulk cook. If my Saturday is full on, I will clean on a Friday night and bulk cook on a Sunday.  Working full-time with a long commute means I have little time to do more than a quick tidy up each evening. The same goes for my husband who regularly falls asleep holding his work laptop in the late evening. He knows he is tired but is over optimistic about logging on to finish up on a few tasks!

One could suggest you cut down on the number of activities you do which will work for some and not so much for others. Those who cannot “drop” any area of responsibility may feel trapped, lose hope and accept they will be run ragged for years to come. 

My suggestions for keeping everything in order are;

1. Hire a cleaner
2. Hire someone to iron your clothes
3. Hire a gardener

I am totally serious! Whatever you can offload to save you time – do it! I have considered it and when childcare commitments are no more (cannot bear to calculate the years we have left), I will be onto it without hesitation. I have spoken to several friends who outsource household tasks and they cannot recommend it enough.

If the above is not feasible, there is no need to lose hope. I have listed nine tips;

1. Identify a day/time in which to thoroughly clean your home
2. Identify a day/time to iron
3. Bulk cook your meat and fish for the week and place into separate containers.  Prepare rice/pasta salad/vegetables on the day
4.Tidy up as you go along – never ever leave mess to mount up
5. Have a place for every single item in your home
6. Do at least one load of washing a day
7. Declutter every month
8. Read letters and invitations as they arrive then;
A. File
B. Take photograph and bin
C. Note in your diary and bin
9. Ensure you note all appointments in your phone/diary and your spouse or partner has the exact same information

(This list is in no way exhaustive)

How do you maintain order in your home and work life?
What are your views on outsourcing tasks?

 

Do you self-blame?

Recently I drafted an itinerary for an event. I checked it several times before confirming it was finalised. On the day of the event there was a little confusion with which session would take place next as the timings were slightly out of sync.  I felt a little embarrassed and took a long look at the itinerary to identify if I had indeed made an error. I had not but it brought something to light. I have a strong tendency to assume I am to blame if something does not go to plan. Without knowing why, where, how or who I quickly point the finger at myself and leave it there until I can gather substantial evidence to prove I was not in the wrong. It does not matter how many people are involved, I instantly volunteer to take some of the blame. I feel responsible and have the desire to find a solution.

Whilst it may be seen as commendable not to run away when you may have a part to play, there is also something quite damaging about self-blame.   People who self-blame tend to live with guilt. They feel guilty even when everything is running smoothly. They tend to assume the worst whether there is any evidence of wrong doing or not.

I have in the past attended ad-hoc meetings with my managers and wondered what on earth they needed to speak to me about. I would wrack my brain trying to recall any incidences or exchange of words that may have taken place. Did I speak to someone out of tone, did I display an attitude without realising, am I underperforming? Nine times out of ten, they wanted to discuss a matter the  complete opposite of the thoughts running around in my head.

Where did these thoughts come from?
Why was I so open to thinking the worst?
Why do I self-blame?

There is always a root and it is our responsibility to find it.  Until we find this root, we will be unable to deal with the problem.

As a child I had a constant feeling of guilt. Guilty for being born to a young mother of 20, guilty for being raised in a single parent household, guilty for my mother’s struggles – both financially and emotionally.  I also felt I was a burden and was to blame for everything that did not go according to plan.

So, how can we work on minimising self-blame?

1. Accept that you will make mistakes and it is okay to do so as long as we do not consistently repeat them.

2. Avoid taking responsibility when it is not yours to take

3. Setting boundaries for yourself – at work and with friends and family

4. Arrange to speak to a counsellor or therapist to talk through your feelings and explore where the self-blame started

Have you battled with self-blame or do you know someone who has?
What advice would you offer?

Do it scared!

ĺ

The presentation to 50 colleagues, a job interview, holidaying alone for the first time, sitting an exam – all of these can be daunting. It is perfectly okay to feel nervous about stepping into unknown territory. I would have thought each of us become a little wobbly at times – it may not appear so to outsiders but the feelings are certainly there!  Personally I believe a little nervousness helps to keep us on our toes. How easy it would be for one to grow arrogant if they did not experience fear or apprehension from time to time.

I remember watching a film in which the storyline focused on a publisher and speaker. Just before he entered the doors to the large conference room, he took a deep breath, got his thoughts together all with a rather fixed and worried face. As he entered the conference room he instantly beamed from ear to ear whilst looking left to right at his audience – I expect this gave him an element of confidence. Looking directly at your audience, connecting with them even before you present.

The first time I was due to give an exhortation at church, I felt nervous.  I prepared beforehand and read through my notes again and again. On the morning I led praise and worship with my fellow worship team as usual but felt anxious about giving the exhortation. As I was called forward my stomach did somersaults – actual somersaults.  The exhortation was not as painful as I first thought – sure I could have looked at my audience a little more as well as slowed down my speech but I survived.  I have improved on my public speaking since then by taking up opportunities that come my way. 

I tell myself what is the worst that could happen?  It helps to put life into perspective. Choosing NOT to step out would have a far more detrimental effect on my life, my progression and the way in which I view myself.   I refuse to allow my insecurities and sometimes irrational thoughts to hinder me from doing what I know I should be. 

Will you?

Do you put yourself forward for opportunities?
Do you allow your fears to hold you back?
What advice would you offer someone who struggles to step out of the boat?

Wait joyfully or miserably- it is your choice!

Nobody likes to wait, not really. I certainly do not! Everything moves quickly these days and is available at our request. People send emails and expect a response within minutes, people shop online as it is faster (and more convenient).  When food shopping with my husband we stand in two separate queues to identify who is likely to be served first. One of us then gravitates towards that queue.  I do not enjoy food shopping at the best of times so try where possible to go first thing in the morning or in the evening when it is so empty you could do cartwheels down the aisles!

Waiting for ten minutes or an hour just cannot be compared with waiting for days, months or even years. We all have wants and needs that cannot be met in a short space of time perhaps because of circumstances or timing. We can allow this to consume our lives and fail to see the areas in our lives we should be thankful for.  It is interesting that we tend to focus on what we do not have and completely overlook what we do have. 

Choosing to be miserable whilst waiting will suck the joy out of your life.  You will struggle to be happy for others when they have good news, you are likely to isolate yourself from family and friends and you will not feel good about yourself.  My view point is you may as well wait with joy because either way you will be waiting.  You cannot claim back the time you have wasted being miserable and it is unfair to the people who have to be in your company.

I recall allowing my circumstances to dictate my mood. When I desired a thing, it consumed me. I questioned why I was unable to receive it now as oppose to waiting. I actually questioned whether I deserved to have it – that perhaps I was punching well above my weight.  It was a self destructive way of living and was slowly destroying me. I cannot recall the point at which I decided to be thankful for the many blessings in my life. Of course, I still have my moments from time to time but am quickly brought back to reality.

Have you mastered the art of waiting patiently?  Is this a learned behaviour?
What advice would you give to others who struggle to maintain good character whilst waiting?