Focus can be only a few minutes of dedication and calmness away
I’m studying, working part-time, volunteering (being the president), and writing online. People ask me:
- How are you able to do so much and not burn out?
- How do you focus on one thing if you have so much going on?
I will tell you the truth at the beginning: it depends.
It is sometimes harder and sometimes easier. Especially when I have problems that are emotionally draining (usually about people) then it’s hard for me to focus.
But what I learned in the last years is that focus can be only a few minutes of dedication and calmness away.
Here are my 3 insights to get more done by focusing:
Keep It Simple
I have a lot of different tasks to do for each role I have. But within these roles, I keep it simple.
Do you know the 80/20 principle? This is my favorite tool for time management!
Before I start a task, project, or new position, I’m analyzing it first. I figure out the 20% of important tasks which are responsible for 80% of the success. I ask questions, read, and research.
Why is this so important? Because a lot of tasks seem important but aren’t actually. You can easily delegate or delete those tasks to save you time to focus on the important ones.
I focus on the most important tasks in each of my roles and projects. If I have additional time I will do more but I try to delegate the rest. That is the convenience of being the president: delegation.
Take a look at the Eisenhower Matrix to figure out what the important tasks are.
- Write down all of them and then sort them into important, unimportant, urgent and not urgent.
- Remove or delegate everything that is unimportant.
- Do the important things
Focus On 1 Thing at A Time
Humans are not capable of multitasking focus. You are able to do more things at the same time but then neither has your focus.
To get more done and to be able to focus on one thing at a time you have to block a time of focus.
Distractions are eating your time and focus. Everytime you get distracted it takes your brain a few minutes to get back to the task. And that’s harmful in this world of vibrating phones, advertisements and noises.
To focus on one thing at a time without distractions you have to add time blocks to your week:
- Go through your current weekly schedule
- Analyze which time you already blocked for work, family, friends, or university.
- Take a look at the leftover time in your week
Now you know how much time you have left to use for your projects and other tasks. You can plan your time blocks then.
For example, I have time blocked every weekend for doing household work like cleaning and washing clothes. In a few years (when I can afford it) I’m expecting to delegate these tasks.
For every other project, I have blocked an afternoon or day to only work on this. My semester project time block is usually Saturdays without distractions and other responsibilities. I turn off my phone or put it in another room.
For my volunteering, I block time in the evenings because we usually have meetings around this time.
By not switching from one task to the other I 100% focus on the present moment. And the cool thing is: you will get into a flow state.
The flow state is the goal of blocking time. Suddenly everything is easy, you get a lot done fast and you forget time exists. It’s 3 hours later and you achieve much more than during the entire week.
Have a To-Do List
I have a to-do list because I struggle with overthinking, and if I’m overthinking, I’m losing focus.
The solution: write everything you have to do down to:
- not forget it
- to get it out of your mind
- to be able to stop thinking about it
Some tasks need to wait because they are not a priority. But to not forget them and to be able to focus on something else you should write it down.
Your brain loves distractions and thinking. Get it out of your head and you will gain focus again.
I experience the re-focus through my daily meditation routine. I’m focusing on the present moment and my breath, but if there is something stuck in my head to think then my brain will think about it.
By writing it down I let it go. My brain doesn’t have to think about it anymore and I made sure that I didn’t forget it.
Write it down and let it go!
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