kitchen timerI used to think I was a focused person. A bit of a type-A personality with a to-do list and the determination to knock off the tasks as quickly as possible. But lately I’ve found it harder and harder to get started and stick with the things that matter most.

Email messages need checking. Facebook statuses need updating (and relationships require maintenance like skimming the news feed, liking, and commenting.) The puzzles app on my iPad beckons with a dose of stress-relief and the teetering stack of books beside my bed tempts with the promise of tantalizing characters. Meanwhile, my overwhelming to-do list needs prioritizing, the phone rings with yet another automated survey, the dryer buzzes that a load is done, and my special-needs daughter who had the day off from school interrupts again with a litany of complaints.

With the reminder that working from home requires that I actually get work completed, I am re-examining the boundaries I have in place. (Especially since I’ve gotten a preview of what life will be like once the Princess graduates from high school in May!)

First, it’s time to schedule time for the various activities like email and Facebook instead of allowing myself to “quickly” check them throughout the day. Same goes for laundry, cleaning, meal preparation, exercise, and other routine tasks. With the knowledge it will get done at two o’clock, I can resist the temptation to do it now.

Second, I need to work smarter in shorter amounts of time. Identify the task. Collect the necessary tools. Turn on music to work by. Set the timer. And get busy. There’s something about that ticking dial or blinking numbers that make it a race to see how much I can get done before the time expires.

Third, I need to set aside time to plan my week and daily tasks so that I make progress toward my goals but don’t put an impossible amount on the list. That way I can feel that motivating sense of accomplishment and reward myself for a good day’s work with a puzzle or book or even a movie with the family.

What about you? what keeps you from accomplishing your to-do list? How do you manage the distractions?

No Distractions
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