When you set yourself any kind of challenge, the trick (or is it track?) for successful completion is making sure that you do little things every day that are in pursuit of your ultimate goal. Keeping track by writing the steps down are a powerful reminder of your purpose, especially when your willpower is lacking.
Sometimes, though, we need extra ideas to get over daily obstacles that stop us getting stuff done. If you are like me, you can find your time taken up with that "busy work" that hasn't really got any connection to the "important stuff" you need to be doing. Or the distractions that seem to come my way when I am doing difficult, mind stretching tasks, not to mention those "out of sorts" days when most everything seems to be a challenge in itself.
A technique I read about recently, encourages using meditative skills to help understand and work WITH the obstacles as they appear.
Start with an important or urgent task that you must get done today, which is likely to fall prey to procrastination and distraction. If you are in the zone and unlikely to be distracted, then great - just crack on and do it!
Otherwise, sit down at your workspace of choice and clear away the clutter that might face you - that includes numerous tabs open on your browser allowing notifications to pop up willy nilly. (You are allowed the time to go to your settings and disable those annoying notification boxes - think of them like chocolate bars or crisps being waved in front if you. So hard to resist.)
Switch off phones and email, shut your door to people and FOCUS on your task.
Sit there and just do it!
If at this point, you now find yourself focussed and working like a demon - great, carry on and finish the task. (Taking appropriate breaks to replenish energy, if it is a long task - see Pomodoro Technique below)
If, on the other hand, you find your mind wandering, this is the time to try the 'pause training' technique. Instead of trying to run and hide from the 'wandering' - pause, breathe and actually notice what is happening in your head. Think about what it is that is causing your lack of focus. Is it frustration, self-doubt, lack of confidence, fear or tiredness?
Start to notice how it feels on a physical level, where is this feeling located? What qualities does it have? If you are used to meditation techniques, this may be easier for you to do.The more you concentrate on this feeling, the more you will realise that it is not a true fear, but energy, just a feeling in your body that you normally want to hide or run from. Instead, breathe into the feeling, notice it, smile and be gentle to yourself. This new approach allows you to recognise and work with these feelings instead of running and finding pleasurable distractions. This recognition then allows you to relax when it appears again and start to pause and breathe through it.
Try these steps as you start your important tasks each day:
- Clear your space, close down the distractions and focus.
- Do some pause training. Notice when the feeling comes that makes you want to step away from the task.
- Relax into the feeling and recognise that it isn't a big problem - think about the motivation behind why you are doing this task. Will it make a difference to others? Are you doing it to improve your own life? Tell yourself the reason you are doing this task - if you can face it, say the words out loud!
- Each time you find yourself wanting to wander away from the task - pause, breathe and recognise the cause of this feeling.
- Take regular breaks. Practice the Pomodoro Technique to improve your mental agility. Work for 20-25 minutes, then take a 3-5 minute break. After 4 pomodoros take a longer 15 minute break.
Like all techniques, this will get better with practice and should also help with any feelings of overwhelm that creep into your head on those ultra busy days.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.