Today we have the inspirational Kimberley from Dream. Delight. Inspire. with tips on how to stay focused when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Oh how I wish I were a super productive little dynamo Virgo like our dear Lady Smaggle here, but unfortunately I am a disorganised million-miles-an-hour Sagittarian mess. I usually have about a bajillion great ideas, a gaggle of to do lists, a stack-load of bookmarked websites and a bursting Google Reader account.
I constantly feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information coming from different directions and all the things I am meant to do with it. When I’m feeling like I can’t cope with the incoming whirlwind of debris, I crawl into my cocoon (read: bed) and watch insightful social documentaries (read: Gossip Girl) until I can function again.
Recently I discovered that I can’t read anymore. I skim. My brain gets bored reading full sentences! I was horrified, to say the least as I was the type of child who would lock herself in her bedroom all weekend with a book and only emerge for meals. I loved reading and now I feel this sense of shame, when I am skimming through an article.
So how can we regain some focus in a world that is barreling along like a train and throwing things at us left, right and centre? We slow down.
Switch all your devices off (no hyperventilating over this!) and go to a quiet spot. Close your eyes and focus on the sounds and how your body feels. There is no need to “meditate” as such (I’m hopeless at that anyway), but just breathe and focus on yourself and your surroundings. Forget everything you have to do that day, let go of any guilt/pain/aggravation from earlier and just sit there for 5 – 10 minutes. Do it, it feels awesome.
Get it all out.
Now that we have a clear mind, write down everything that you need to do, read, see, etc and make one huge list. Call it something motivating like Jenny’s List of Amazing or Dana’s Mountain of Do (I’m sure you’ll come up with much cooler ones, but you catch my drift, right?).
I know, I know, but this will take me forever you whine. Yeah it’ll take a while, but how good will you feel when all your tasks/commitments/desires are down in one place instead of on Post It notes, the backs of receipts, in odd note lists on your phone and voice recordings. One place = Level 1 Peace and Harmony my friends.
Now put everything into categories to give it some order. Colour code it if you like or draw pretty big clouds around everything, but get these into an order that is easier to manage and less overwhelming.
Yeah Kim, no brainer, you say. Everyone can prioritise but it’s what you do with that list of priorities that really matters. Which category do you really want to focus on and get some action on? What is the most logical first step to get that happening?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll tackle the easy things first and leave those that you dread, but that is probably not the most productive way of approaching it. Do what makes sense first, then the other tasks will follow suit.
Train yourself to focus.
Whenever you set out to do a task, set a timer for 20 minutes or so and solely concentrate on that one thing until you hear the beep. No distractions or interruptions or stalking ex boyfriends’ current girlfriends on Facebook (c’mon it’s unhealthy anyway).
When you’re reading something or listening to a podcast, give it your full attention. Skimming? Mind wandering off? Start again. Soon this will become so frustrating that you’ll automatically read every single word just to avoid going over the same sections over and over again.
Do you find it hard staying focused when you’re feeling overwhelmed? What are your tips to stay sane?