If you’re having trouble studying and you’re thinking, “how do I stay focused on my homework?” and you can’t stay focused, here’s a trick. Get a piece of paper or a pad of paper and a pen and keep them with you when you are studying. What you are going to do is as soon as you get an idea in your head, you’re going to write it down on the pad and go back to studying. That’s the idea. Ok?
Instead of thinking about the idea or playing it through, you’ll get back to it – you can look at the pad later but just write anything that bugs you or distracts into your head; write it down on your pad and go back to studying; that’s how you stay focused on homework.
There are all kinds of reasons why we procrastinate and rather than go through them…a few of them are: feeling overwhelmed; feeling like we’re not sure what to do; feeling like we resent being sort of forced to do things we don’t want to do. There’s all kinds of reasons that we procrastinate, but it’s important to realize that procrastination is normal and we all put on a front – a show of just how much we get done because we want other people to think well of us and think highly of us and think that we’re competent but realize that there a lot of people who don’t do as much as their public persona says that they do and a lot of people struggle with procrastination and it’s a perfectly normal thing.
So if you’re having trouble at the gym and you’re being distracted by everything going on around you, try to put something in your ears, either ear plugs or ear phones and listen to something that blocks everything out so at least you’re not hearing the sounds of it you’re in your own kind of inner world a little bit more and that’s how to stay focused at the gym.
If you find that a book is just too big and overwhelming for you, then what you need to do is break it down into smaller chunks so you can look at how many days you have to red the book if it’s an assignment at school and you can break it down into how many pages you need to read each day between now and then and you just knock it off and you’re done; go have fun. Don’t, you don’t force yourself to read extra, just do your little bit and go and that’s how to stay focused on a book.
This is how to stay focused during a test. If you’re taking a test and you’re having a problem with your mind wandering, what you’re going to do is to learn one simple technique and you’re going to do this whenever a thought comes into your head that distracts you, ok?
What you’re going to do is just take a deep breath, and let go of the thought and remind yourself that you can have that thought another time; the thought will come back. Don’t worry about remembering the thought or focusing on the thought. You’re going to breath in (breathes in) and when you breathe out, the thought is going to go and you’re going to focus back on the test. This will help you stop procrastinating and start studying.
When you’re wondering, “is procrastination normal?” give yourself permission to realize that it’s normal. Everybody does it.
One thing you can do is set a timer. In a sense, you’re setting a timer on your procrastination. You’re saying look, you know what? I’m online and I’m surfing around and I’m just wandering and I’m a bit lost but I’m going to set this little timer right here, or set something on your phone; whatever it is; Set it for 15 minutes. Go procrastinate. Have fun.
When the timer comes on; or when the timer goes off; now it’s time to go back to work.
I want to say something about time management. We all think that we want to get more time in our day and find more time and we’re too busy. It’s the wrong approach because you can’t get more time. We need some perspective on time management.
Squeezing more hours into a work day doesn’t really matter because the effective part of your work day is really small. If you think about it; and I’m not talking about all the little things that you have to do to move your work forward, the little gotta be done stuff; but the real things, the this-matters-to-where-my-career-my-life-my-goals, all that stuff; the big stuff. That’s just a few hours a day, maximum.
If you can get a few great hours of writing in or a few great hours of whatever in, that’s a great day. That’s solid time management. The focus should be on making sure that we are pushing forward the things that really matter and not getting distracted by everything around us.
A friend of mine asked me about a big project that he’s got to do at work. He’s having trouble getting started. It’s just a ginormous project, and he’s wondering how to stop procrastinating on a paper. What I said is, go back to planning. Go back to thinking about what are the steps that I would go through if I was going to do this project. Stop worrying about doing it and just think about what you would do.
What you want to go for is that every step of your plan is as small as possible because smaller things are easier to start on. Starting is actually the real problem, not doing. You can do the big project, it’s just actually starting the big project that’s almost the hardest part.
An example that I like to use is taxes. If your project is “do your taxes”, that’s really hard to start. You would break that down until maybe the first step of the project, the first thing you have to do, all we have to do is find the accountants phone number. That’s all you have to do. Now you get to check something off your list and you’re feeling good.
Plan instead of doing and go for micro-steps. When you’re working on a paper and you’re procrastinating it’s hard to stop, but these steps will get you there.
I want to talk about modes. As you go through your day, you’re kind of in different modes. You might have a social mode where you’re being social with people, you’re not worried about work; or you might have a mode where you’re reacting to things; another mode where you’re driving things forward.
It’s important to know how to stop getting distracted working at home. The things that matter most in terms of where your success comes from is where you are driving things forward. The big important things that will move your business or your career forwards as opposed to just responding to everything that’s going on and everybody is emailing you and all that kinds of stuff. That’s coming inwards.
How can you work on things that matter and not get distracted by stuff coming at you? Your home is full of distractions that are hard to avoid. One of the ways that I’ve found that works is to get away from the computer. Pencil, paper; you think a lot differently when you’re using those things. One of the things I’ve found is you have a lot of ideas.
As soon as you get away from the computer, part of your brain unlocks and suddenly I’m always coming up with things I need to do. Quick! I should get this or I should think about that or I should email this person.
What you want to do is you want to have a pad of paper. It could be on your desk or it could be beside your computer and this is an inbox for your computer. In a sense, it’s just putting a barrier between you and getting back on line. You may turn off the internet or unplug it physically and you go over to the desk and any ideas you have, you just write them down so they’re out of your head and you can keep on rolling.
Then when you’re going to go back online, you just go through your list and you put it all in. The point is to stop yourself from just getting back online with the first idea that you think of.
I want to talk about the number one mistake that people make in the morning and how to start your day off right. This is number one. This is very hard to avoid, but if you could avoid this, life will be good. That is: Checking email.
It’s so hard to not check your email first thing in the morning. You pick up your phone, go to the computer; I’ll just take five minutes. The problem is two problems.
One is you get sucked into the problems of the day. All the emails that have been coming into you, they put you in a mode of reacting. You’re reacting to all of the things that are coming in via your email inbox. The second one is you don’t have the buffer of time of setting up what you want to do with the day. They’re very similar problems but what you really want to do is in the morning you want to figure out what you want to do today, get your head right, and then tackle your day. Maybe that means go check your email, but the first thing you do should not be your email.