Focusing

I was in a funk at work.  Didn’t know what my priorities were, too many pressing crises, undone tasks, despair.  I decided I needed to get myself better organized so that I could get something done.  I feel I have made huge strides in this area within the past few months – I’m very proud of myself. 

 These are some of the techniques I am using:

  • Focus – Keep my mind on what I am doing.  Don’t get distracted with e-mail, the Internet, or haranguing myself about what an imperfect job I am doing.  Keep working through it.
  • Goals – I have been reviewing my list of personal goals on a daily basis, thinking:  How is it going?  Am I meeting these goals? How can I better meet these goals?  Do these goals need to be revised?
  • Writing – Writing turns my idle musing into concrete thoughts.  For example, I keep a Goals journal.  At the top of the page is my list of goals (about 5 items).  Every day, I list each goal and some commentary about what specific action I took to work towards that goal on that day.  I’m not just talking about journal writing, either.  I try to write up my work tasks as better way to plan them ahead of time and a way to finalize their completion when I am done.
  • Outlook Task List – I have always hated To Do lists, because it always turns into an ever expanding Not Done list.  Lately, I have started using the Outlook Task List, viewing it as a dynamic list of items with shifting priorities.  I accept from the beginning that many of the items on this list will never be “Done”.  I regularly review the list and rearrange the priorities, separating the list into critical “Must Do Now” items, “Should do within a week or two” items, and “Wishful Thinking”.  This is particularly helpful for those days when I start out working on something, then get interrupted 10 times, then need to get back to the original task.  Or even harder – I get interrupted 10 times, then I need to reprioritize and complete some other tasks, then days later I get back to the origina task.
  • Running – I have been running since May.  I run regularly, even when I don’t feel like it, even when it is hot outside, even when I have a million other things to do.  If I miss one of my scheduled runs, I try to make it up another time or with another form of exercise.  The discipline has been great for my self-confidence, and the exercise and being outdoors has been great for my mood in the afternoon.  This attitude has carried over into the way I attack my work.

And my motto?  “Keep going!”

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