Lately I find myself more easily distracted than ever before.
I start one project and then remember something else and my attention is diverted.
Focusing on one thing at a time has become a challenge.
Those other plates I’m trying to keep spinning need a bit of attention. Or at least that’s what I tell myself…
I recently read an article about how multitasking is not helping us to be more productive.
While I’d like to believe my crazy multitasking skills are paying off, I’ve got to admit all this starting and stopping and re-starting can’t be good for my aging brain…
So lately I’ve been stepping up my game to focus on one thing at a time.
I’ve found a few ways to more successfully manage those incoming distractions and thought I’d share them with you.
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1. Shut down Facebook and any other application that begs for attention. Turn off the notifications on your device if necessary.
2. Set a time limit. I like to browse Facebook in the morning as I eat my breakfast. If I keep browsing past that time it eats into my productivity.
3. Don’t waste time when you have to wait. Doctor’s office, guitar lessons, the pick-up line. I keep my Kindle handy and then I can read while I sit and wait.
He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:8 ESV
4. Collect your thoughts, ideas, and lists in one place. I’ve recently started using Evernote (I use the free version). I love that I can sync it to the Evernote App on my phone. When I’m in the midst of another task and I remember something or have an idea I don’t want to lose, I just quickly open up Evernote, jot it down, and then return to the task at hand. I’ve got scraps of paper in every room that aren’t doing me a bit of good – this makes a difference!
5. Set timers. I splurged on an Echo Show for my birthday (but an Echo Dot would do the same) and am constantly having Alexa set timers for me. Once the timer goes off it’s time to switch gears. While I need to spend some time on social media each day for this ministry, I get sucked in easily and time slips away from me.
6. Give yourself permission to respond later. Text messages and emails disrupt my progress constantly. While I can’t ignore them completely (an immediate family member may need an immediate response), I can put off my response until later so I can focus and finish on the task at hand.
Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6 ESV
7. Utilize helpers. A maid service. A lawn company. Your kids. A grocery shopping service. A scheduling app. A volunteer reminder such as Sign-up Genius. Use the list and reminders on your Echo device. If there’s a more inefficient way to complete the task find it and use it.
8. Pair a podcast or video with a menial task. I cannot successfully work on a blog post while I listen to a Podcast. My focus is always on one or the other. Inevitably I back up what I’m listening to, losing even more time that I’m trying to save. Sweeping, doing the dishes, and other tasks that require little brain power pair much better with those that require attention and comprehension. I take my Kindle to the Y and read while I’m on the elliptical and treadmill. It feels much more productive than watching TV.
9. Limit your availability. Consider limiting the hours you’re on or respond to social media, texts, and phone calls. We leave our phones downstairs at night. Honor the Sabbath by taking a break from all things ministry related one day a week. Protect your time with your spouse/family by being unavailable to the rest of the world.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things…” Luke 10:41 ESV
10. Find or create a system that works for you and stick with it. I try to plan our meals one week at a time and record them on the fridge calendar. Keep all of your important ministry materials in a file box. Print out necessary ministry forms, meeting minutes, etc. and keep them in a ministry binder. Assign household chores a day of the week. Run a load of laundry first thing every morning. Put what you can on auto-pilot and it will free up your time to focus on other things.
Lord, help us to run the race set before us. Help us not to get swept away and distracted by all the tasks that beckon to us. Lord, keep us focused on the things you desire for us to do.
I’d love to hear from you! What are your best productivity tips?
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