How to Focus and Get Things Done

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In this busy world it is easy to get distracted and spend your days on meaningless activities without taking significant steps toward your goals. Before you know it, time has slipped by, and you are no closer to success.

Here are six tips to help you keep focused and accomplish your tasks.

Have a Warmup Routine

For things that you do regularly, like sitting down to business everyday, it can be helpful to have a warmup routine. Many times the warmup routine is built into the activity, like turning on the computer as you start the work day or putting on your running shoes before going jogging. Or checking Facebook before you start to surf the web (Just kidding! This is a bad idea!).

Your warmup activities help you get into the right frame of mind for the task ahead.   During the warmup routine your mind will be busy thinking about what you need to accomplish that day, and what you need to do first. By the time your warmup routine is finished, your mind will be brimming with ideas and you will be eager to get started.

Write Down Your Intention

Write down the specific activity that you want to accomplish. If you keep a to-do list it can be an item on your list. Otherwise, find a place on your computer or a scrap of paper to write down what you will work on right now.

Writing down your intention helps to focus your mind on what you are trying to do, and helps to keep you on track.

Do Your Research

Some activities can’t be started without first doing some research. For example, if you don’t know how to add a particular widget to your website, you can’t get started until you research how to do it.

It can help to write down the question that you need to answer before you get started, so that if you wander off topic you can remind yourself what you were looking for.

Don’t fall into the trap of over-researching. Realize that researching isn’t the same as actually getting something done. Set a limit so that you don’t spend all your time on research. Your limit can be the amount of time you spend, or the number of articles you will read or videos you will watch.

When you reach your limit, honestly assess whether you are ready to begin. Is there a specific question you still need to answer? If so, allow yourself another research session to answer that question.

But if you just feel uncertain, realize the uncertainty comes because you haven’t done the task yet, and get yourself started.

Start First, Be Ready Later

Sit down and get started. Take that first small step. Take another step. Sometimes you may take a series of steps that lead in all different directions before settling into your groove and really making progress.

Hold yourself to the task as you take those first uncertain steps. Breaking away at this point would be the same as giving up. Once things are really flowing you can let up and take breaks if necessary.

Don’t be afraid to try several approaches. For example, when writing, it can be helpful to just start getting thoughts down on paper, even if they don’t lead in the right direction. Eventually your mind settles in on a good approach, and off you go.

Take Breaks When Stuck

Once the ideas start flowing, if you find yourself to be stuck on a problem, take a break. But not just any type of break. Take a break to do something physical and mindless, like walk down the hall or get a cup of coffee. Don’t just surf the internet or read your mail.

Breaking away from your desk and doing a physical task gives your mind a chance to mull things over in the background. Often you will find yourself hurrying back to take action on an idea that you had.

Celebrate “Done”

When you have accomplished your task, take note. Stand up and stretch for a moment, and smile at your completed piece of work. Wrap it up, put it where it belongs, and briefly enjoy the moment. I find that if I stop and do this step my days have more meaning, instead of blurring together.

With this set of ideas you should have some powerful tools to help you get things done. What will you focus on today?

How to Stop Doubting and Start Doing

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Photo Credit: Brian Swanson

Ideas at the dream stage are so exciting; anything is possible. But when we set a goal and get down to work, doubts and misgivings can set in. We start to notice how much is undone, and to judge ourselves on what we have done so far.

What can we do to make the journey toward our goals more successful?  To overcome our doubts and misgivings, and gather the courage and determination to do what needs to be done?

Here are three insights to help you stick to your journey.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built in a series of many days. Each day work was done and progress was made. The progress eventually added up to the completed whole.

The same is true for us and our goals. If our goals are big and complex we won’t accomplish it them one day. But each day that we make progress brings us a little closer to the final accomplishment.

To get closer to your dream, each day make a mini-goal of one step that you can take toward your bigger goal. Find the first small step that you can take on the mini-goal, and do that. Continue until you have accomplished your goal for the day. Gradually these days will add up to major accomplishments.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Lost

There are times when you aren’t sure what to do next. There may be a few options, and you can be paralyzed trying to choose the right one.

The thing to remember is that almost any decision is better than no decision. If you pick a direction and work toward that, a couple of things might happen.

One, you might find that you chose the right direction and that you are truly proceeding toward your goal. Even if you chose a slower route you are at least moving, and may well arrive before you would if you wasted time in indecision.

The other thing that might happen is that you could choose a wrong direction. Eventually you will discover that you are not moving toward the goal that you had set. This can be valuable if you take the time to learn from what you have done.

You can learn from what you have done wrong.  Did you learn anything that can help you in the future? You may have to spend some time backtracking, which most likely you will think of as wasted time. But time is not wasted when you have taken action and learned something.

Alternatively, you might find that the wrong decision turned out to be a right decision. You may have found something so wonderful that it is actually better than the goal you had set for yourself in the first place. This may be the perfect time to rethink your goal; perhaps the direction you are now headed, although you couldn’t initially see it, better resonates with who you are and what you want to accomplish in your life.

Don’t Prejudge

You may be so afraid of not doing something good enough that you don’t do anything at all. The standards that you have for yourself, or your fear of what other people might think, can be crippling.

Here is where people who have been less successful to date have an advantage over those who have already succeeded. Those who have already succeeded have set a high bar for themselves, which can lead to paralysis as they start to prejudge themselves. People who haven’t succeeded yet have an easier time realizing that anything that they do can be a good step forward.

Keep in mind that creating something is always better than not creating. Learn to ignore the people who are happy to criticize what other people have done, without actually doing something themselves. The only critics that you should listen to are people who have ideas to help you actually get better.

Allow yourself to do things and try things without worrying about what others will think. Hide from people if necessary, as long as you can keep creating. When you have finally created enough that you have become successful you can let the doubters see what you are up to.

Be a Doer

Join the elite group of people who are actually doing something toward their goals. People who take action are the only ones who can be successful in actually achieving their goals.

Be one of the doers, not just a dreamer!

What will you do today that is a positive step toward your goal? Let me know in the comments.