Focusing and sticking to goals is far easier said than done. We can have all these ideals for how we would like to live our lives or how we think we should organize our day. But things always get in the way. Or one thing or another will force us to change our plans entirely. Remember that projects always need to remain flexible, and sticking to your goals is a journey, not a guaranteed destination. So staying on task is more about understanding your journey forward rather than trying to remain disciplined and unwavering in your daily schedule.
Once we have figured out what path we would like to take, it is now time to find focus. According to Cambridge Dictionary, focus can mean “careful attention that is given to something such as a task, or the ability to give your full attention to something”—in other words, minimizing distractions. It can also mean “the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest”. This means finding clarity or narrowing down exactly what you need to do to accomplish your goals.
Specifically, while you are working, try to ensure that you are maintaining your focus by not having readily available distractions around you. What distracts you can be different for everyone, and inevitable distractions are unavoidable. But, if you know that something is a distraction and you can remove it from your workstation, then maybe you shouldn’t have it at your workstation. Ensure that your workspace is clear of anything irrelevant to the task, and make sure you are taking breaks.
We often treat breaks as rewards, but this mindset can be quite harmful. Taking time to rest and reset is a crucial part of focusing. Sitting and staring at a screen all day will turn your brain to mush. Instead, take time to process what you’ve worked on, and then come back with fresh eyes.
Now let’s work on the more difficult part of focus: finding clarity. What do we need to get done right now and not let ourselves get overwhelmed by future goals? This usually includes pinpointing precisely what needs to get done in a day by breaking things down into smaller chunks. For example, “I need to find a job” is a pretty lofty goal. But first, define what this means. What kind of job are you looking for? What field? Full-time, part-time? Figure all of that out first. It’s easier to stay on task when you clearly understand what you’re supposed to be doing.
Then, break down precisely what steps you need to take to reach this goal. Also, plans can take several days, weeks, months or even years. So setting a significant goal to be completed in a day will steer you off the right track very quickly.
Finally, make sure you recognize priorities, which deadlines are first, and how much effort you need to put into each task. Only some things require the same level of effort. For example, a text to your friends requires far less effort than an email to your boss. Apply this to everything. And that doesn’t mean you don’t try. It just means you only have so much to give. This is because you can’t provide the same amount of energy to everything. You’ll find yourself exhausted with very little to show for it.
With all that being said, what is one small task you can start on right now that will help you find your focus?
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”Paulo Coelho