How I Regain my Focus…and Keep My To-Do List in Check

Daniela Reeve
Oct 12, 2017 · 3 min read

We’ve all had those days — the days that no matter how much coffee you drink, you simply can’t get going. The days when all you can think of are your flannel pajama pants and pink bunny slippers. You know those days, we all do.

We’re pushed to our limits everyday, a plethora of distractions awaits us at every corner. Work at the office, work at home and business calls throughout the day blend in with soccer practices, PTO meetings and the beloved Zulily emails that you simply can’t ignore ($9.99 for a floral tunic?! Score!)!

Alas, facts are facts. If you can’t focus effectively, you can’t think effectively. When we are unable to focus, tasks take longer. When tasks take longer, they build up. When tasks build up, we have to multitask. When we multitask, we lose focus and get stressed. Once this cycle starts, it’s hard to stop. Sound familiar? So, how do we stop and take a breath, and why is it so important to do so?

The Importance of Being Focused

Rather than simply taking in information, focus allows us to absorb it. With this absorption our brains can process, interpret and create. The more distracted we are, the longer it takes to complete one task which will prolong the rest. So says Parkinson’s Law — work expands to fill the time available for it’s completion. When your plate is full of things to accomplish, it’s easy for them to bleed into each other. More importantly, when you’re focused, you perform better. It’s that simple.

How Do We Find That Focus and Stay There?

Breathe and relax. Easier said than done, I know, but the American Institute of Stress recommends 20–30 minutes of abdominal breathing to reduce anxiety and stress. Don’t have that time (who does?), taking just a few deep breaths can bring you back to center and allow you to focus better.

Find Some Space. While not everyone can have their own office, or even their own cubicle, it’s important to create a space, or find an area that allows you to be alone for a few minutes to close your eyes and collect your thoughts. I don’t mean find a couch and take a nap, but simply going around the corner, leaning against the wall and separating yourself from all of the dreaded distractions will help.

Get up! Move around - staying seated all day will harm your mind and body. Take the stairs if you can, go for a walk during lunch, do the Hokey Pokey, just make sure you’re not sitting all day long! And when you do sit, take your mom’s advice and SIT UP STRAIGHT! Your back will thank you.

Make a To-Do List. While this might seem silly and mundane, every task you can cross off your list is like getting a sticker from your teacher on your first grade spelling test. Heck, go buy a pack of stickers and slap one on each completed list. Your mom might even put one on the fridge.

Most importantly, know your limits and know your worth. Don’t ever feel guilty about taking a moment for yourself, or you may find that you relate to Office Space more than ever!