3 Practical Tips to Help You Focus on Your Most Important Work
Word for today: Focus
A New Chapter
Earlier this month, I joined the ranks of the “employed” (as opposed to “self-employed”) and accepted a full-time position as a VP of Marketing & Communications for a 180-person company. My new position comes with a lot of responsibility, but it’s also going to be a ton of fun. I’m very excited…and a little nervous.
Over the past several years I’ve been working as an independent marketing consultant. This provided me with considerable flexibility to dial my workload up and down based on family and personal commitments. So, while I’ve definitely been a “busy working Mom” juggling many balls in the air, it’s been primarily on my terms.
Now, I am what I consider to be a traditional busy working Mom, working for a company and receiving a paycheck. After more than a decade of being an entrepreneur, this “regular paycheck” thing is quite a novel concept! ☺
Drawing on Wisdom
For those who’ve heard my story, you know that I struggled to continue running my business after my son was born. As a result, I sold the business and took some time off to rest, re-group and recharge. I finally feel like I am strong enough to take on a leadership role again and vow to be much wiser about it this time around.
“Wiser?” you may be asking.
Well, you know that feeling you get when everything seems to be a priority and it all must get done RIGHT NOW? This usually leads to a feeling of overwhelm which leads to a constant state of anxiety which can eventually lead to health issues and panic attacks. Being “wiser” means that I’m determined to avoid going down THAT path again!
When it comes to most things in life, I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to UNDERestimate the amount of time that a task or project will take and OVERestimate what I’m capable of doing as a normal human being on any given day. In the past, this resulted in me working myself to death trying to make good on the many promises that I’ve made. Does this sound familiar to you??
If so, the following tips might help.
Practical Tips to Help Us focus
The good news is that the habit of overcommitting oneself is just that – a habit. And habits CAN be broken. The following are some strategies I’m starting to employ to help me prioritize and focus on my most important work:
1. Create space in my schedule. On my calendar, I’ve already blocked off three hours each week as a way to create space to just think, ponder and prioritize. This is sacred space and will be my reflection time to identify what really matters most in my work.
2. Shut down my email application for two, 2-hour stretches during the day. Repeat after me: I will NOT be bullied by my email inbox! This is really responding to other people’s agendas when I need to stay focused on my own. I find if I shut my email application down, I get more of my most important work done since I’m not constantly distracted by the increasing number of unread emails.
3. Spend the very first hour (or even 1.5 hours) of my day making significant progress on a big project. If I don’t do this right away, I have a tendency to get caught up in meetings, phone calls and responding to email and before I know it, it’s 5pm. Also, I find my creativity diminishes at the day wears on and I want my best thinking spent on my highest priority projects.
As so many busy working Moms already know, we simply can’t do everything. We MUST to find a way to prioritize and focus on our most important work. This will be an ongoing challenge for me but I’m ready to face it head on. I’ll continue to chronicle my journey here. Wish me luck.
Until next time, thanks for reading and happy ball juggling!
Question: Do you have a habit of over-committing yourself? What are your tips for prioritization and focus? Please share your comments below.