Distractions come in all shapes and sizes and can ruin even the best laid of plans and intentions. Some distractions cannot be helped or ignored (fire alarms or crying babies), but many of our daily interruptions can be. Keep reading for five simple steps to minimizing and eliminating disturbances that are keeping you from focusing on what matters most.
- Turn Off Notifications
We love notifications. From our phone, from our computers, from everything. Turn them off. You do not need to know every time you get a like or a retweet. You can also turn off notifications from other apps (health, email, news, coupons), and do the same with notifications that come from your computer for emails and ads. This will significantly lower the number of distractions you will have throughout a day.
- Put Away Your Phone
If at all possible, put your phone on silent or away for a set amount of time. You will no longer be tempted to check-in needlessly every few moments, and when it does go off, you won’t know it. The vast majority of messages received throughout the day do not need immediate responses anyways. If you still worry about missing important calls or texts, change your settings to allow messages and calls from specific people.
- Only Necessary Programs
If you are working on your computer, be sure only to have open the programs that are necessary for your project. Are you working on a spreadsheet? Close your email and internet browser. Closing the unneeded programs will limit distractions and having the programs you need already opened will save you time and energy.
- Clear All the Clutter
Clutter comes in many forms. Physical clutter on your desk, visual clutter (notes stuck to your monitors), or mental clutter. Get everything put up, cleaned up, and out of your head so you can focus on your task at hand and not worry about distractions.
Keep your house clean and picked up. Keep your home school area clean and organized. Enlist the children in these tasks. It will much easier for you to homeschool in an orderly environment, than a disorderly one.
- Prepare Your Home School Area
Decide where you will home school and prepare a dedicated area accordingly. Purchase the supplies you need and keep them handy in an organized way. Make sure your room is the right temperature. Have the children get a drink of water or use the bathroom before school begins. Set a standard that school time is school time and needs to be respected accordingly. Having everything and everyone ready for school means the children (or you) will not be leaving the home school area frequently.
Taking a few moments to prepare yourself, your children and your home school area can go a long way in helping all of you maintain focus and complete projects promptly.
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.