Stay Focused & Stop ‘Chasing Squirrels’!
6 tips to drive your productivity through the roof.
“What I’ve learned is you just got to stay focused and believe in yourself and trust your own ability and judgment.”
- Mark Cuban
A while back I wrote an article about how to maximize your time, and one of the tips was to “stop chasing squirrels.” I received lots of comments & likes over that tip, so I decided to follow-up to dive a little deeper… apparently I’m not alone with the “squirrel-chasing” issue.
If you, or anybody you know, has difficulties keeping focused, or as I like to put it “chasing squirrels,” I feel your pain! I’m not sure how or when my “squirrel-chasing” developed, however, I do know I can be easily distracted throughout my day. I’d like to think this can be good at times, as I am usually astute to things going on around me, but there are times my lack of focus can be a serious problem. My goal with this article is to help you minimize your “squirrel-chasing” so you and your people can stay better focused and become more productive!
I must admit, over time I’m getting better at fighting off the “squirrels” in my daily routine. I hope these 6 tips will help you too:
1. Make a Detailed Schedule! I know this sounds easy, but when I say “detailed schedule,” I mean every hour of your day. This has been my best “squirrel-repellent” tool to date. The key is to ensure every hour of every day is full on your schedule, from the time you wake up, till the time you go to bed. I usually try to write out my schedule on Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning. Pick a time that works well for you and plan out your entire week.
Important Note: If you’re an extreme “squirrel-chaser” (like me), be sure to schedule in some “squirrel-chasing time” or you will simply go nuts (pun intended). It’s unrealistic to expect people who are extreme “squirrel-chasers” to go “cold-turkey.” Besides that, some people use distractions to their advantage. Flex time in the schedule will allow you to roam a bit.
2. Stick to your Schedule! A well-written schedule is only the first step… sticking to it is the challenging part. It does absolutely no good if you deviate or alter the schedule as you go. Of course, if there’s an emergency, that’s a no-brainer; however, you need to do your part and stick to the schedule you developed. The great thing is if you spent quality time developing the schedule, you’ll be more prone to want to stick to it.
3. Get an Accountability Partner! This may sound corny, but believe me, it works! Share your schedule with somebody who works with you or is around you at various times of your day, and ask them to help you keep on track. Tell them you have a tight schedule and you want to stick to it to boost your productivity. You can even encourage them to develop their own schedule and return the favor as an accountability partner for them. This can be a win-win situation for many people around you.
4. Forgive Yourself! Yep, many of us struggle with this — especially when we set out to accomplish something and we fall short. If you find yourself loosing focus and getting off track, be sure to forgive yourself. You were designed a specific way, and some of us simply have a difficult time staying focused, no matter what we do. If you are trying to improve, celebrate the small wins, and enjoy the “squirrel-chasing time” in your schedule.
5. Keep Score! At the beginning of the week, set a few goals you want to accomplish during the week. Merge these goals into your daily schedule, and by the end of the week you can evaluate your performance in regards to whether or not you reached your goals. Consider this a personal competition against yourself! This will help you stay focused on specific results.
6. ‘Lose’ the Phone! O.K., what I mean is to purposely put it in a spot away from you so you can get some work done! Your cell phone may be the biggest culprit that gets you chasing many squirrels. It’s never one text or one phone call… it’s about 15 minutes of your productivity! As a minimum, schedule ‘phone-time’ into your schedule — 30 minutes in the a.m., and 30 minutes in the p.m. seem to work for me. Other times, simply put it away!
Regardless if you struggle with keeping focused or not, these “6 tips” should improve your productivity if you follow them. In today’s ultra-busy world, “squirrel-chasing” can easily distract us from our primary tasks and kill our productivity. The key is to be purposeful and committed to eliminating the non-essential “squirrels” in your life in order to complete the most important things. Good luck attacking your “squirrels”!
“Run to Your Challenges… to Achieve Greatness & Stand Out Among Leaders!”
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*A similar version of this article was originally published on CurrentLeadershipCoaching.com