This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.
So you sat down to do some work and the next thing you know, it’s 3 hours later and you have accomplished nothing. Sound familiar? If you feel as though you’re spending a whole day just trying to get started, while never actually getting anything done, you can do something about it with these simple tips to stay on task.
There are some very simple ways to help you regain your focus and stay on task, no matter what the day brings. In fact, some of these strategies are so simple that you may question whether they really are effective. The truth is, the simplest of strategies often yields the greatest result.
Here are five simple tips you can use to help you stay on task:
#1: Create a task list
Create a daily task list for your whole day or week. It can be on paper or digitally, but creating the list gets the tasks out of your brain and somewhere it can be seen and organized. If you think creating a list in your mind is just as effective, think again. No matter how good your memory is, you’re likely to waste precious time just trying to remember what’s ahead and then waking up in the middle of the night remembering something that fell through the cracks.
PRO TIP: When you take the time to create a list, you’re giving yourself a visual confirmation of what’s next. When you have a list to refer to, there’s no arguing what comes next and you won’t have any excuse to stray from your plan.
#2: Get a comfy chair
Did you know that productivity and comfort go hand-in-hand? It’s true. Having a comfortable chair makes a huge difference in how you think, feel, and perform. It’s hard to get into the zone when your back, hips and legs are aching from that jankety old desk chair you’ve had since college. #nojudgement If a new chair is out of the budget, upgrade your seat with a comfy cushion. You’ll find that it’s a purchase that pays for itself.
#3: Clean your desk
When your desk is clean and organized, it’s much easier to stay focused on the task at hand. Why? Because you don’t have to wade through the stacks and clutter to find what you need. And you’re not distracted by other things (oh, here’s that receipt I was looking for, I should go ahead and start my monthly P&L).
PRO TIP: Clutter fatigue is real, even though I made it up. We become overwhelmed and stressed out from seeing piles of stuff, even if the stuff is important stuff. And when our brains feel overwhelmed, it’s that much harder to stay motivated and focused on the task at hand. Keep only what you need for your current task and put everything else in its place.
#4: Have office hours
Set specific times when the people who live in your office are not to disturb you, unless it’s an emergency (and no, where the Goldfish crackers are is not an emergency). If you have an office door, shut it and put a sign on your door that you are in a staff meeting. Because you are. You are meeting with yourself in an effort to GSD- get stuff done.
#5 Ignore the notifications
Go ahead and clutch your pearls, I’ll wait.
You are not required to read and respond to every email, text message, DM, comment, retweet immediately. If you need permission to ignore things for a hot minute, consider this your permission slip.
When you interrupt your task by responding to notifications, it’s easy to get sidetracked just as you are building momentum. Instead, use time blocking and set specific times when you check in and respond. It could be twice a day, or every few hours, but the goal is to eliminate unnecessary distractions.
PRO TIP: If maintaining a social media presence is part of your job (and honestly, if it isn’t, it should be), the lines between working and socializing can get really blurry. If you are in work-mode, don’t chit chat and don’t scroll. Log on to do what you need to do, and get off. Set a timer if you need to, to remind you that this is a swift mission and dawdling will not be permitted or the boss will be pissed.
By applying even a few of these tips to stay on task, you’ll experience a huge difference in your productivity. And a more productive you is a happier you!
Need more goodness like this in your life? Why don’t you invite me over to your place? And by place, I mean your inbox. Subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll score my free-fifty-free Crafting Your Mission worksheet, plus periodic love notes from me. See you in your inbox!
Ready to get your small business budget under control? Snag my free Cost-Cutting Checklist here.