Let’s dive into focus and time management. Time management is NOT about getting more done in a day – it’s about being able to focus on the right things to get done each day and then staying committed and disciplined to completing them.
Watch or listen below as I share six ways to sharpen your focus when it comes to time management…
WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER
Focusing on the right things to get done in a day
How to sharpen your focus through 6 strategies
Getting clear on your priorities and the big picture to drive the right actions
FEATURED ON THE SHOW
Hello, Hello, this is Jennifer Dawn Welcome to Happy Productive episode number 17. And today we’re going to dive into focus and time management. Because here’s the deal time management is not about getting more done in a day. And I really really mean this now. In my earlier years in business, I thought time management was really truly all about how much could I possibly get done in a day and the more I crossed off my to do list, the more I thought I was so productive and efficient and really kicking butt at time management. But that was not the case at all. What I was really proficient at was burnout, running myself into the ground, and working all the hours that God gives and I was really, really good at not having time for myself or taking care of my health or spending as much time with my family as I wanted to write because I was so busy getting things crossed off my list.
So what I later learned in life and the strategy I use now is that time management is really about focusing on the right things to get done in a day, not the quality, not the quantity, right? And then when you know what those right things are, that you need to get done, staying committed and disciplined to actually completing them. That’s really what focus and time management are about. Now, if you’re running from the moment your feet hit the ground in the morning, right all day long, you’re putting out fires, you’re solving everyone else’s problems. Maybe you’re even doing some of their jobs, you’re doing all the thinking for them. Right? You’re going that extra mile, you’re never saying no to anybody. If that’s you, then you’re going to find that it’s really really difficult to have time for yourself, to grow your business to go after your own goals, both personal and professional. And you might even find that you’re not really making progress that feels real, right? Because progress is real when we see the results, we want to see the results on our calendar, meaning that we have more time and we want to see results in our bank account, meaning that we have more money, right? Time and money. And that’s a great gauge of are we really seeing the results that we want in life and in business.
So today, let’s dive into 6 ways that you can sharpen your focus when it comes to time management. All right, number 1, take a break and look at the big picture. And here’s what I mean by that. When things are starting to feel just super complicated or super overwhelming, I want you to step away, give it some room to breathe. For me when I get really really overwhelmed or I’ve got a big problem I need to solve or I’m just not quite sure what I want to do to get my focus back on I will go to the barn. So I’m a horse girl, I have a horse. And the process of just getting in the car driving out to the barn, it’s about a 20-25 minute drive, being at the barn riding the horse, you know, hanging out there and then driving back. It almost never fails, that when I take a break, and I step away, those challenges, those problems, the answers that I need, they just all seem to come to me because I’ve given it some room to breathe. It’s almost like the idea of kind of zooming out. So when you’re really in the middle of something, you’re really focused on it and you just can’t quite see all of it. You want to zoom out so that you can look at that big picture.
Sometimes I’ll just even get myself clear by asking some basic questions. One, where am I going to where am I at? Where am I now? Right? Okay, so and it’s just really simple stuff, but it just requires me to focus and get clear. Where do I want to go? Where am I now? Then I’ll ask what milestones do I need to pass? And for each of those milestones, what smaller actions get me there? And then I’ll write it down. If I haven’t already, if it’s already written down, I’ll pull it out, and I’ll see where I’m off track. Without fail, this never, never fails to get me back on track and get my focus back just by asking some very, very simple questions by taking a step back, taking a break.
And in fact, in my coaching programs, this is one of the most important things we do. We take time to actually get clear on what that big picture is. And we do this with a vision statement. We create vision boards, we can do anything like that where we’re getting clear on our big picture. Because really, if you haven’t taken the time to get clear on where you actually want to go, what outcome you’re after, where you want to end up, how will you ever focus your time on getting there? You won’t. Okay, so if you haven’t taken time to clarify what that big picture is for you, then that would be the first step. Because once you are now clear, now you know where to focus. If you do know what your big picture is, but you just find yourself really feeling it’s overwhelming, it’s complicated. Just take a step back and look at that big picture and see if that doesn’t help get your focus back.
Alright, tip number 2, breathe. Now this one might sound kind of weird or kind of obvious. It’s like, yeah, duh, Jennifer. I’m totally breathing right now. But I want you to start paying attention to how many times in a day that you catch yourself, holding your breath or breathing very, very shallow, especially when you’re stressed out. You’re pressed for time, and it’s almost like you can’t focus and you can’t think right? So just at that moment, take some deep breaths in and out, in and out and just clear your head. This is scientifically proven to lower your stress level. I like to take few deep breaths before I start a brand new project, right? I want to clear out anything else that I was working on anything that might any mind clutter that might distract me from what I’m going to start working on.
And then while I’m focusing on my next project, I also do have a little notepad handy, right? So you’re working on the project and a thought pops up, I want to be able to write it down so that I don’t lose it. But I can still stay focused on my task at hand. We don’t want to then you know, the thought that pops up, you don’t want to then chase it down, you know, pick up the phone or get on the email, because that’s just going to keep you distracted, and it’s going to be super easy to lose your focus. Okay, deep breath in and out to clear your head, lower your stress level and it will absolutely help with your focus.
Tip number 3, stop trying to do so much in a day. So when you’re sitting down and you’re making your list for the day at most, you want to have 6 things on your list and in fact, the fewer the better. Now, this is not 6 things like if you have to do a group of administrative tasks, and maybe that might be, you know, replying to 10 or 15 emails, okay? That’s not what I’m talking about. When I say 6 things on the list, one of those things might be, I have to reply to emails for the day, okay? But the fewer the better that are on your list. And there are even time management strategies out there that say just focus on 1 task for the day. I’ll have to admit, I have not been good at that. Just having 1 task for the day. But I’ve been very, very good at having 2 or at most 3, and on many of the days if I’m not working on a big project, and I’m moving stuff or several smaller projects forward at most I’m going to ever have on my list for the day is 6.
Why? So that you can put your very best effort into doing fewer things better, and you almost want to get into the practice of not overwhelming yourself. I have done this and in fact, even today I still have to catch myself. Because I’ll just want to put more on my list. I just think I can accomplish more in a day than I really can. And I’ve had to get into the practice of not doing that, not overwhelming myself. And that’s where that 6 comes in. Because if I’ve got more than 6 things written down, it’s a pretty much guarantee. I’m not getting all those things done. And I know that I have to back myself off of that so that I can cross all of the most important things off my list for the day. It’s usually more than you can do in a day anyway. And then I’d much rather end the day feeling satisfied and accomplished. And look, I got everything on my list done. Then the opposite of that of feeling like, Oh, no, I’m still way far behind. I’m never going to catch up right and it kind of ends the day on a sad note, and I don’t like that. Okay, so that’s number 3 is stop trying to do so much in a day limit your list to no more than 6 things.
Number 4, get clear on your priorities. This is probably one of my most favorite and most important tip strategies that I use because before I get to work, the first thing I do is I get clear on my priorities for the day. This is why I built the ABC into my daily planner, the Best Planner Ever, because I needed the reminder when I sit down to work each day, instead of just working from a massive list, I wanted that reminder. What’s my A? What’s my B? What’s my C? So now I’m clear on my priorities. Because the truth is, who really cares if your busy work gets done or not? It doesn’t matter, what matters are those priorities. So think about it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got people like all day long trying to sell me stuff on LinkedIn. And those emails are like popping into my email inbox. Is it really important for me to respond to these people? Or is it more important if I complete that email sales campaign, right, which puts money in my bank account? Well, of course, it’s a sales campaign. That’s my priority, but it can be so easy to procrastinate that most important thing when your email inbox is blowing up all day long, and we tend to think that oh my gosh, I have to respond to my email right this second, but it just isn’t true.
And this is why you want to spend time getting super clear on what your priorities are before you launch into work. And then when those distractions pop up, you can handle them so much easier, which actually leads to strategy number 5, which is eliminate those distractions. So if you want to improve your focus when it comes to your time, you’ve got to get really good at eliminating those distractions. Now, it doesn’t mean that you eliminate them forever, but you eliminate them when you are trying to focus on a project. So this means turning your email off, turning your cell phone off, closing the door. It might even mean just going somewhere else and working where you won’t be bothered. I’ve done this before I just take my laptop and go to a coffee shop or I know nobody’s gonna bother me and I can just sit there and crank, you know, on something for an hour or 2 hours or whatever. And I know that that is a surefire way for me to get super focused and super productive.
Now you know yourself better than anyone else. So just set yourself up for better focus and time management. If you know that the moment you open your email inbox, as soon as you get in there, you’re going to be distracted and like 2 hours are just going to disappear, then just don’t do that right until you’ve completed your top priority for the day. You can even use, alright, if you really are dying to get into that email, use the emails, the reward. So I’ve completed my priority for the day, whatever that is. And now I can open my email inbox, right, use it to reward yourself. I know for me, not turning on my email was a huge factor in improving my focus and my productivity because as soon as that email goes on, I want to get in there. I want to start helping people I want to start responding and my big projects for the day just won’t get done. And so that’s one of the things I do is like, Jennifer, I know you’re dying to get into that email inbox. But nope, you’ve got to do these top priorities first, and then you can get in there. And that’s worked really, really well.
All right, strategy number 6, smaller time chunks, I find that it can be really hard to focus on a big project over a long amount of time, right, we might think that, hey, I’m going to work on this for 6 hours straight. But that can be a really difficult thing to actually do. And even when I’ve been cranking and I’m really in the groove on a big project, and I’ve been going for about an hour or more, I do kind of need a little mental break. And I find that when I’m doing my training classes after about 45 minutes, you really start to lose people’s attention, because it just gets really difficult to concentrate for longer periods of time. So there’s no difference here between this and your time management. You want to break down your projects into those smaller chunks of time so that it is easier to stay focused on them.
And if you’re worrying about your email anyway, right, it’s going to be a whole lot easier to set it aside for one hour than maybe like 4 right? Just going to be a lot easier to know okay, you know, for one hour I can sit here I can focus on my project and then I’ll check my email versus trying to put it off for 4, 6, or 8 hours. If you also struggle to get going and just really feeling like you just don’t know where to even start then just start small. Take it one small task at a time and just build up your momentum from there.
And these are the 6 strategies you guys to help improve your focus and help improve your time management. I really hope that these ideas help you and I hope that you actually take them and make them work for you. We are all not the same and what works for me may not work for you. I do of course time management because I have my Best Planner Ever but I like to call it gentle structure. I don’t like the whole rigid, you know, this is the time management system. You absolutely have to use because I’ve found so many different you know, time management practices haven’t worked for me I need some flexibility in there. But you do have permission to like, pull out of this what will work for you what applies for you. Hopefully it gets your creative juices flowing and you can come up with some ideas that will also help you improve your focus.
Again, this is all not so that you can get more stuff done in a day. But you so you can get the right things done in a day so you can see real progress on your goals and have time left over for the things in life that really, really matter. Things like seeing your friends are spending time with your loved ones, pursuing your hobbies, your interests, your health, your fitness, right, you get the idea. That’s what I want for myself and that’s what I want for you too. It’s time management for those right reasons.
Now if you need help with this, absolutely consider joining one of my coaching programs. So many high performing and such successful CEOs and entrepreneurs, they all know that getting a coach is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of strength. And so many studies have found that when you invest in coaching, it provides an almost 600% return on your investment. Wherever you are right now, if you could be 600x better by working with a coach, wouldn’t you want some of that for yourself, I know that I always have a coach and this is why and I want that for you as well.
Now if you need to learn more, you can visit either of my websites bestplannerever.com, that’s where you can find information on the Best Planner Ever, and the Best Journal Ever. And for coaching, you can visit jenniferdawncoaching.com. Two of my coaching programs, one in Goal Achievers, we tackle one life topic per month. And in the Inner Circle, which is for business owners, we take you by the hand and we help you eliminate the frustration from your business so that you can relax and you can really enjoy that life that I know you’ve been dreaming about. Okay, you guys, that’s it for today. Thank you so much for listening now go out there and have a Happy Productive day.