It was one of my strengths. Something I prided myself on. I could make a cup of tea, hold a conversation, clear a paper and have one eye on the news. I could multitask. I have been told before (more than once) I am super-efficient. I “just get stuff done”.
Then COVID hit. I had a few slower months, like every other small business I know. I had one or two projects on the go, not eight or ten. I could spend time writing and researching or pottering in the garden (or watching TV).
Now life is slowing returning to normal in Canberra and work has picked back up. I have found my brain has not. I spent last week feeling a bit overwhelmed at all of the tasks I had to do and some days unsure about even where to start.
I am sure many people feel this way. If not now, sometime in the past. Whether it is when you work from home or the days you are back in the office, staying on top of what you have to deliver can be harder some days than others.
I thought I would share what I have been doing to refocus my brain and kick back into gear.
Write a list
Or many lists. I have a list for every project I am working on. Last week, I stopped what I was doing a spent an hour writing down every single thing I needed to do – calls, emails, research. Everything. Lists make me feel back in control. I always have a to-do list, but this was a new level. It was detailed and specific with dates I needed to complete tasks by—a mini-project plan for every project.
Plan your time
During this planning session, I also spent time organising my calendar. I have time booked in for writing, reading, administration as well as social time and exercise time. Making sure I had time booked into achieving everything I needed to do. I colour code my calendar as well so that I can easily see what I can move and what is non-negotiable.
I know, I know everyone says this but often when I am busy exercise is the first thing that I let go of. This time I have changed my approach and made it a priority. Every day at 4, I stop and do at least 30 minutes of exercise. I find that it is making me more creative and giving me clarity on solutions to problems. It’s just time away from my computer that allows me to think while burning off some energy.
Stop now and then
While I could work late into the night and all weekend, I know that won’t help my brain to remain focused and working at its best. Especially while working at home, I like to set limits I stop work at six to start planning dinner and spend time with my dogs. I work on the weekend, but only for two hours at a time. I know being tired won’t help me!
Change your scenery
Finally, I find the thing to keep me focused and motivated is to get a change of scenery, every now and then. If I find myself drifting, I head outside to read. I grab my laptop and head to a local café, not leaving until I have achieved a set task. I move to the kitchen for a new outlook. It doesn’t have to be far. Sometimes just a new room is enough to give me a kick start.
I am starting this week but on track. On top of all of my projects (maybe not my life admin) and ready to start another week.
Everyone has times when they struggle to focus or manage their priorities! I would love to hear some of your ideas about how to refocus and get stuff done.