Get the Life Momentum You’ve Always Wanted
In my last post, I discussed the effect information overload can have on our lives. We looked at the spectacular amount of stimuli demanding our attention from the very moment we awaken as well as the strain that can put on our mental/physical resources. We also looked at some specific things busy people can do to engage in self-care by being intentional with their environment and their time. The end result, a body and mind that is rested and able to focus where we want to be focused.
In this post, as a sort of continuation on that theme, we’re going to look at some simple ways to take our focus to the next level by streamlining how we engage in activities. We’ll take some quick looks back to information and focus but really, this is about determining how we can create momentum toward accomplishing the things that matter to us.
Distractions are an annoying fact of life
Like we discussed last time, there is an absurd amount of information being hurled at us constantly. This, in itself, can create an unlimited number of distractions. What’s more, is when we don’t have a clear idea of what it is that we are trying to do (at work, at home and in life) we can’t determine what’s important and what is not. Unless you’re truly adventurous, you would probably not drive to the airport and get on an international flight with no planned destination, length of stay, etc., leaving everything to chance. But that is exactly how many of us approach work, life and family. Nothing happens by accident. While life does have a current (like the ocean), so to speak, it behooves us to be more like large ship than a ship in a bottle.
Knowing that life has challenges and distractions at virtually every turn, what can we do to transform focus into direction?
Create lists and prioritize
Perhaps one of the most important things anyone faced with multiple tasks/activities can do is to prioritize those tasks in order of importance, impact if completed and/or impact if not completed within a specified time frame. This strategy can be applied to the workplace, the home, school and even the information we choose to consume.
In the workplace, this type of prioritization is straightforward. In the home, things can be a little less clear. When creating home priorities, work with your spouse or partner to determine what is best for your household. This should include creating a common vision as well as setting clear family and individual goals. Once you have a vision and goals, sorting tasks into things that align with that vision and your goals will help weed out unnecessary tasks or activities. You can (and perhaps should) even consider prioritizing the information you seek out or you allow to be pushed to your inbox.
If you are not familiar with how to identify your vision, values and goals, I’ll cover that in my next post.
Filtering and prioritizing go hand in hand and could even be one item on this list. Consider this: if you were writing a college term paper about the environmental impact of plastic bags, you would likely not find it valuable to spend time reading about the economic impact of tariffs. This would simply not be an effective use of your time nor would it help you to complete the tasks at hand.
Most of us have a general idea of what information we need to survive (at work and at home) as well as what information is beneficial versus that which serves little to no purpose. If the information you consume does not align with your vision and goals, is it really worth your time? Is it even important?
That’s not to say that there is no place for entertainment in one’s life; however, we must ask ourselves if that entertainment comes at a cost to our families and our work or if it fits into the framework we have established for our lives. The less superfluous (or even detrimental) information you allow to pass through your filter, the less overloaded, bogged down in minutiae and confused you will be.
Create a schedule
Some of us despise schedules because we believe they place us in boxes or routines and rob us of opportunities for spontaneity or fun. Some of us love schedules because we believe they eliminate guesswork, confusion and random distractions. The truth is probably somewhere between. In reality, for people who have goals and priorities, building a schedule helps foster focus.
When coaching new employees struggling to keep up in a fast-paced environment, creating a schedule and prioritized task list typically helped ease the frustration associated with unmet objectives. The same can work for your household. If you feel stifled by a very detailed schedule, perhaps try something a little less formal that incorporates the essentials but keeps you on target.
Creating a schedule is actually one way to create boundaries – for yourself. Once you know what is necessary to accomplish the objectives of your family and your job, you have prioritized tasks/activities and you have time allotted to do them, you will clearly see any space left over for other things. If you do not protect essential activities/tasks and the time necessary to complete them, eventually other things will encroach upon that time and interfere with you moving in the direction you initially desired.
Leave room for learning, enrichment, entertainment and leisure
I alluded to this before but whatever you decide is the right balance for you (at home and at work) leave room to grow and decompress. All work and no play makes things ugly, boring and demoralizing. For some, decompression involves time in the outdoors or interacting with friends and family. For others, this looks like reading a good book or even watching television (though I would urge you to weigh television time carefully because it can easily turn into a distraction and time waster). Regardless of what you choose to do, leaving room for these things in your life (and yes, even prioritizing them) is a useful tool to create a well-rounded life and foster balance while keeping you focused on important things when it counts.
At this point, your job is to ensure that things like social media, hundreds of satellite channels or random internet searches do not distract you from meeting your work goals, meeting the needs of your family or accomplishing whatever you have set out to do for yourself. The amount of information available and the number of commitments most of us have are not sustainable. My personal opinion is that these imbalances are a large part of what creates dissatisfaction, poor quality of life and negative family outcomes. When we can learn to filter, prioritize and plan, I believe our ability to focus and achieve better results improves measurably. If things aren’t quite going as planned and you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available and tasks to complete, consider implementing some of these ideas. There are a number of resources available for you to get started right at your fingertips.
- Finding the Sweet Spot: Achieving Work-Life Balance - August 2, 2019
- Your Roadmap to Success: Results focused goal setting - January 17, 2019
- Get the Life Momentum You’ve Always Wanted - October 27, 2018