Productivity Losing Steam? How to Get Your Focus Back
If you live in the northern part of the country, it’s been a long winter of polar blasts and regular blizzards. But even in warmer climes, it’s pretty hard to sustain the clear-eyed determination that led you to make ambitious New Year’s resolutions or set optimistic goals for your business at the end of the year.
After nearly two months of shoveling through day-to-day tasks (and maybe mounds and mounds of snow), it’s easy to get distracted from what you hoped to accomplish.
With more slogging ahead, perhaps now is a good time revisit some tricks to help you keep your eye on your goal. Back at the end of the year, essayist Robert Morris offered 10 tips to help you stay focused throughout the coming year. They were helpful then, but they may be even more relevant now when you’re in the dreaded middle of your journey towards your goals -- a region that’s renowned for being a motivation suck. Here are a few of the best.
Create Daily Rituals
Accomplishing big things is often less about setting ambitious goals and firm deadlines and more about getting the day-today process right. Rather than spend all your energy looking ahead in hopes that the distant promise of success with pull you forward, devote some time to crafting daily rituals that will bring you, step by step, closer to the end line.
"You cannot have high levels of focus if you don’t follow a routine that will keep you within the boundaries of productiveness," writes Morris. Successful blogger James Clear agrees. "For top performers," he has written, "it’s not about the performance, it’s about the continual practice. The focus is on doing the action, not on achieving X goal by a certain date."
Connect With Your Inner Monk
Focus takes discipline, and discipline is an internal resource you need to replenish with regular alone time. "No matter how active a life you have, you won’t get anywhere without spending some time with yourself and your thoughts," writes Morris. "If you are overly active, it’s only a matter of time when your body or/and mind will give up. Spend some time doing things you love-- take long walks, listen to good music, read great books, meditate, do yoga, or whatever else that pleases and relaxes you."
This alone time can be short periods sprinkled throughout your schedule. For a more serious recharge, spend larger blocks of time working in "monk mode."
Being alone is essential, but as with many things, balance is key. Finding social support for your goals in also important. "When you have people with similar goals, you will support and motivate each other to stay focused on their achievement. Your ‘goal buddies’ will remind you about the things you promised to achieve, and their success will push you to keep up," Morris explains.
What are you doing to stay focused on your goals through the long journey to success?
JESSICA STILLMAN | Columnist
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.