Are you someone that skips from task to task at work without spending a significant amount of time on any one thing? You probably are if you’re reading this article… but that’s okay, you’re here now, and we are going to work on it. Keep reading to learn the 5 things you should be doing at work to improve your focus and productivity.
- Respond, Don’t React
Immediate reaction is something we all feel like we have to do. New email? Read, react, and hit send. New to-do pops up on your phone? STOP. First, unless something is marked “Immediate Action Needed,” it can probably wait. Stop reacting immediately and instead take time to work through, think, and respond when you’re ready.
- Hardest First
It can be hard getting everything done. A trick is to not put it off, do it now, get it done the night before. This will get it out of the way so you can enjoy the rest of your day and stay focused on your home school routine. A good motto is “Do it now.”
Learn to get work done the night before. Throw laundry in the washing machine at night so it is partly done by the next day. Get the dishes done the night before, don’t let them sit in the sink. Learn to finish a day’s work in a day, that way, when morning comes, and school is ready to start, you are ready to start with a clean slate of fresh energy.
- Stop Time-Sucks
Time-sucks come in many forms. Notifications, social media, and cleaning out your deleted email files are great examples. You are giving up your valuable time to those things that can wait, and instead, most likely creating a backlog of work for yourself. Do whatever it is you need to do to remove the temptation and get back to work.
Sometimes something like deleting emails can be done at a different time, for example, when you are on hold waiting to talk to someone on the phone. Think about some time wasters and how to reduce the work load. Unsubscribe from unnecessary email lists. Set up folders for incoming emails. For example, you probably get notifications when you pay bills. By making folders, or labels as they are sometime called, in the email provider, you can automatically or semi-automatically send emails to your folders. This will save you time.
- Make a To-Do List
A game plan for your day is possibly the most valuable tool you have at your disposal. Simply knowing what all you need to do and what other commitments you have will give you a clear view of what your day will look like. A simple piece of paper with a time ladder and checkboxes will do the trick. Or you may want to get a planner to help you. There are planners that are set up specifically for home school moms.
- Work in Chunks
Break your day up into chunks by time. Working for forty-five minutes with a ten-minute break will not only make the day go by faster but will also help you learn to gauge how long specific tasks take and where your time is being used. Learn how to adjust these chunks of time for your own home school situation.
Following these suggestions will help you train yourself to work, respond, and plan your day in a way that is most productive for you and your children. This will look different for everyone, but with time and practice, you can become more effective.
Today, we all have many demands on our time. At home, you have family, friends, and maybe even work still vying for your attention. At work, you have your personal life, coworkers, technology, and general stuff snapping fingers in hopes of gaining your attention. But you don’t have to live like that. There are small and simple changes you can start implementing that will make significant differences to your focus and productivity at home and particularly during home school.
- Use a Schedule
Do your best to create a schedule, especially for your home school time, that will give you a clear plan of your day and what is expected. This will allow you to move from one task to the next without having to stop and decide what to do next. Also, keep in mind that schedules are not the end-all-be-all, sometimes things change.
- Make a Clean Workspace
Be it your kitchen counter while you are cooking dinner or your school room area, keeping a clean and tidy workspace will help clear the mental clutter as well. There will be fewer distractions and you and your children won’t waste time cleaning . If there is continual clutter, figure out why. Do you need all that? Can you give some things away? Can you file some things? Do you need a tub for each child in which to keep their books? Figure out a system that works for you. A clean area is more inviting to get work done.
- Put Blinders On
This means all the blinders. Turn your phone on silent, stop notifications, and keep unnecessary tabs closed on your computer. Technology is fantastic, but it can also serve as a major distraction throughout the day. Stay focused on homeschool. Take into consideration how much time you spend clicking and scrolling needlessly and how it keeps you from working with your children or getting necessary housework done.
- Let Others Know That Home School is in Session
Let others know that you are serious about home-schooling and that just because you are home, you are not available 24/7 for a chat. Do what you need to do to minimize distractions from other human beings. Basically, your attitude must be, “I’m happy to help but not until later,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t have the time, our home school schedule comes first.” You must give family and friends some clues about your schedule. Particularly if you are homeschooling, let them know that during certain hours you are not available to chat. You have to set limits on how much other people can take of your time.
Friends with no children or or who have children in public school must be informed about your commitment. You have to put your children first.
- Know Your Habits
We all have habits that dictate when we are most and least productive. Pay attention to yours and use them to your advantage. Figure out how to use your strengths, and the strengths of your children, to make a more harmonious home school flow. If one child likes to read, have him or her read to a smaller child. If one likes to sharpen pencils, use that to advantage. Use all strengths, big and small, of the whole family, to get the work done. Home schooling is a family affair. Plus, know when your most productive times are for planning what you need to do. Know yourself..when to plan..when to work…when to take a break.
Finding your work groove can be challenging; however, taking the time to make small steps in the right direction will allow you to create a workday that is productive and meaningful.
Focusing comes in different forms for everyone. Keep reading for four tips that can help you find your focus.
- Have a Daily Plan
You should wake up every morning with a plan of what your day will look like. It is good to start thinking about this the night before and make some preparation if you need to. This doesn’t have to be a detailed schedule that outlines every minute. But having a plan in place will eliminate small decisions that can get you off track. Having a plan will also give you a clear goal for how your day should progress and end. Take time every evening to write out (not just in your head) the plan for the next day. It can include what you will have for breakfast and lunch. You may have to prep some things for the next day’s home school session. Do what you need to in your situation to make things easier for you. Every household is different.
- Moment of Enjoyment
Every day take at least a small amount of time to do something you really enjoy. Maybe give yourself a short break after school just to rest and recharge. Enjoy a few minutes simply resting, or having an afternoon cup of tea. Have a short exercise break. Having that moment of enjoyment will give you a respite from all the to-do’s that fill your day and give you time to reset and prepare for what comes next.
Sometimes just taking a moment to do something different will give you a rest even though you might still be “working” in someone else’s eyes. Simply because it is a different kind of work you can get a few minutes of enjoyment and rest from what you were doing.
- Be Persistent
If a task isn’t coming easily to you, feel free to walk away for a few minutes or even a day. Maybe you’ve been trying to set up a field trip and it just isn’t flowing. Be persistant overall and don’t give up. But see if there is a better way to do it. Sometimes when things don’t flow right away we need to step back and see if there is a message to pay attention to. Overall though, don’t allow yourself to bounce from unfinished task to unfinished task. It is best to bring a task to completion before moving on. In the long run, you will save time and energy. Don’t avoid difficult work. If tasks are half-done, ask yourself “why”? Are they commitments you have made that you really have no incentive to finish? As you find your core purpose, and arrange your tasks around that, it will eliminate extraneous tasks.
- Have a Day Off
“There’s no rest for the wicked and the righteous don’t need it” is a familiar turn of phrase that praises the busy. But we all know that it isn’t the truth. We all need a day off to rest, reset, and recuperate. We also need time with our families and friends to fill our cups and remind us why the hard days are worth it. When God created the world he made six days for work and one for rest.
To function successfully in the world today, you need to be focused. But this can be difficult. Distractions, brain fog, and too much jitter-causing caffeine, can make getting through the day a struggle. Below you will find four easy ways to cut through the fog and gain better focus for your busy and meaningful days.
1. Lower Your Stress
Stress is hard on a body, both physically and mentally. Every time your body experiences stress it produces and secretes stress hormones, giving your body the signal to fight or take flight. Lowering your stress will reduce the number of stress hormones your body produces and allow you to think clearly, responding to situations instead of reacting. Lowering your stress levels may mean saying “no” more often, asking for helping, or delegating tasks to others either at work or at home.
2. Cut Out Food Intolerances
Some foods, especially when consumed in excessive amounts, have been proved to affect brain function negatively. You do not have to give up these foods completely, but you can try cutting back or attempt an elimination diet. If you think a food may be causing you trouble, try living a day without it. See how you feel. Then test another food on another day. Food intolerances can also be an added strain on your brain function. These intolerances, similar to allergies, can cause reactions within the body that make it hard to focus. Foods to consider cutting back on can include pre-cooked meats, artificial sweeteners, bacon (especially the heavily preserved kind found in the supermarket), alcohol, and cheese/dairy. Remember, you do not have to cut out any of these foods completely, but you may want to consider how much you are consuming.
This applies to your children as well. Food definitely affects the behavior of children. Too much sugar is not good for their health or their attention span.
It may interest you to know that it has been discovered that there are different body types and each one does better on a different diet. This explains why some people do well on foods other people cannot tolerate.
Here are a couple of books that discuss the topic.
3. Increase Key Nutrients
Amp up your intake of nutrients that help your body and brain function best. Your body needs calories from fat, protein, and carbs to work properly. You may also want to consider if you are consuming enough magnesium, B vitamins, and choline.
4. Get Your Zzz’s
Getting enough quality sleep might just be one of the most significant contributors to having better focus during the day. Your body needs sleep to recuperate and clear out everything from the previous day. This includes liver function, cortisol (a stress hormone) regulation, and muscle repair. Basically, if you aren’t sleeping enough or well enough, your body can’t function at its top condition. There is a debate as to whether EMFs from electronic devices affect sleep. Try keeping yours out of the room where you rest and see what happens. Also try to keep a standard routine and bedtime and you will grow into a better sleep habit.
Of course, your children need good sleep as well. Set a regular bed time and regular routine for going to bed.
Having a clear and focused mind can seem like a tall order, one that you can’t possibly stack up to. But that isn’t the case. Take small and simple steps toward clearing the fog and cobwebs, and toward a brain that is ready for whatever the day brings.