Getting back on track when you can’t seem to focus

Hacks from a mom and productive procrastinator

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” That’s a quote from author/entrepreneur Jim Rohn, but that’s not where it originated for me. 

As a new mom, I too, get to be a kid again. So where did I get that insightful piece of advice? From Dreamworks’ The Boss Baby. That’s right—an animated flick about a talking baby who’s on a secret mission to ensure that a new designer puppy doesn’t take the love away from babies. (Yes, that’s even stranger in writing). Regardless of its oddities, that pint size animated kid speaks the truth. 

With a whole new level of responsibility, I quickly learned that staying on track at work was the difference between being stressed out or serene—especially since I had a new reason to be distracted. We could all use a life hack or two, so I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far. 

  1. Get organized. Clean your desk and sort your inbox. You’ll win in two ways. Not only will you have a clean space where you can focus, you’ll already feel productive because you’re organized.  
  2. Get up. A butt in a chair doesn’t always mean productive things are happening. Stand up and take a stroll around your workplace or go outside. Before you know it, inspiration will strike.  
  3. Work somewhere else. That’s right, all hope is lost. It’s time to quit. Just kidding! I mean work in a different room, take your laptop outside, wherever. You’ll be amazed at what a change of scenery can do to get you motivated. 
  4. When you’re on a roll, stay there. Here’s a secret I probably wouldn’t have offered up in my interview—I’m a terrible multitasker. Constantly shifting from one task to another means I’m taking twice as long to do the original task. If you’re on a roll, you don’t need to answer that GChat right away. Wait until you’re at an ideal stopping point so you don’t lose any good ideas. 
  5. Make it a game. Stuck starting on a project? See how much you can get done in 20 minutes. It probably won’t be your best work, but having a little fun with it takes the pressure off perfection—and now you’ve at least started.
  6. Try some background noise. If you’re not the type that needs complete silence to concentrate, work with some background noise. For tasks that are like second nature, I’ll pick a podcast or music. For projects that require focus, YouTube offers plenty of background noise videos. I’ll even put on a show I’ve seen countless times and just listen to the audio. 
  7. Ask for help. If you feel like your brain packed up and left for the day, bounce ideas off your co-workers. They’ll be happy you asked for their opinions, and they may offer ideas that seem like they should have been in front of you all along. 

Happy working! 

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