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Personal Development

How to Stay on Your Game When Your Day Goes Off Track

You’ve made it halfway through the day, and nothing has gone according to plan.

You had it all mapped out – when to do what. You were going to get it all done. You even gave yourself meals and left room for evening reading!

When things don’t go as planned, it’s difficult to refocus our thoughts. Uncertainty and dissatisfaction might cause us to stray even further from our intended path. But if we concentrate on what we can do right now, consider why it isn’t an issue, and do everything we can. It can help you get your day back on track. Even if it’s not flawless.

What next?

This depends on whether you have a deadline. If you do, you will blow right through your self-care time and scheduled bedtime and straight into all-nighter-land. Or at least late-night-land. Which makes us very, very cranky. (Please tell me it’s not just me!)

If you don’t have a deadline, you may be tempted to take the rest of the day off, giving up on your plan altogether. There are plenty of emergencies to keep you busy.

In all likelihood you will fall into the bottomless Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram pit and emerge out of there at the end of the day, covered in guilt because you eventually gave up on the emergencies but forgot to tell yourself to go take a real break.

But what if you want to avoid the dark pit of procrastination?

First off, there is no saving grace for the overstuffed schedule – it’s doomed to make you feel as overwhelmed as ever.

But even if you did try to reasonably divide your time and anticipate interruptions, it’s pretty impossible to be exact even with the best intentions.

Some days will go right as planned. Others will derail to a state of flow where getting shit done becomes your middle name (how do you know the G in my name doesn’t stand for that? Hehe)

And then there are those where half the day just seems to get sucked into Facebookville or someone else’s burning problem.

Let’s strip it back to the basics!

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. How much time do you have right now?

There are 3 types of answers here, and that will determine what you will work on:

  • more than half an hour (can make some headway on important creative projects)
  • less than half an hour (time to do admin or prep work, brainstorming, write a list…)
  • 10 minutes or less (just take a breath and meditate! Or finish something – anything you’ve left undone: pick up stuff lying around, do the dishes…)

Step by step

It’s important to  not let the “more than half an hour” turn into “half the day”. Unless you’re doing something that easily turns into flow and requires days to complete, like coding or design, you’re looking at 2-4 hour max stretches of uninterrupted focus.

Even when our day is completely free, there are always other things pulling us away. Adjust your expectations accordingly. Unless you have a huge deadline and are ordering delivery, you need to leave plenty of time for dinner, errands, e-mails, even engaging in Facebook groups!

Read also: How I Work With Limited Energy as a Solopreneur

2. What’s the most important task I should be working on right now?

If you have less than 30 minutes, focus on something that’s more urgent, or knock out some quick tasks on a project – e-mails, names, etc.

If you have more than 30 minutes, focus on the big task that would move your forward. Make progress on a guest post, prepare a course, write a chapter.

But don’t let it take all day.

After 3-4 hours max, you’re done with that task (unless it’s something you can easily focus on for such extended periods of time). It’s time to switch up!

If you’re working on a big project be sure to record the ideas that come to mind when you’re not working on it – but don’t spend more time than you have to! You don’t want it to become an interruption.

Tip: Set an alarm to ring when you need to be done! That way you can focus without constantly checking the clock.

3. What’s the next step I need to take?

Once you’re clear on what you’re doing for the next while, it’s time to leave all perspective of time aside and focus only on the task in front of you.

If you need to write a draft, close out of anything else or use a distraction-free writer. If you need to send e-mails, be sure not to get sucked in by the internet when looking for that link someone asked for.

Until your time is up, you are “on”.

The only thing you are allowed to engage with is your work. Have your beverage and some snacks (if you need them and it helps you think). Take bathroom breaks when you need to. Play with the cat for 2 minutes. Otherwise, no distractions.

Let calls go to voicemail, or pretend you are in a meeting and call back later (during a designated calling and e-mailing time). Close out your e-mail and social media tabs. Put away your phone! (Am I asking for too much?)

When you finish a step, keep going if you still have time and brain matter left. If you need a change, try taking a (real, guilt-free) break, or changing what you’re working on. Doing the dishes seems to always jumpstart my ideas when I’m stumped!

Read also: Power of Self Discovery & How It Can Lead to Lasting Change

4. How can I remove all distractions?

It’s not tough to keep yourself going once you’ve gotten started. Inertia is powerful, that’s exactly why this simple reset technique works so well.

But the really hard part is getting started.

That’s because it takes about 15-20 minutes to really get “into” something. It’s during those (painful and extremely distraction-prone) minutes that your brain finally adapts to the task you’re working on and gets the right wheels turning.

If it’s a particularly tough task your wheels may be on strike, so it may take longer to get started.

Procrastination gets 10 times worse if you’re concerned about your work being good. You should be concerned with working, and giving it your all – not just getting it done to get it done.

You are trying to put your best wisdom into a blog post – stop obsessing over whether or not it sounds “expert” enough.

5. What needs to change?

You will get more done during those 2-3 hours than in an entire day of dragging it on. And after those 2-3 hours of intense work (or even just half an hour), you may be on fire or you may be pooped.

Read also: Excuses, Obstacles, and the Myth of the Overnight Success

Listen to your instinct.

Do you need to take a break? Do you want to keep going?

Tweak as you go to make sure you stay focused on the most important thing.

The magic of this technique lies in the simplicity of choosing a simple thing to think about or do. It doesn’t work nearly as well once you start mapping out the entire day all over again, knowing you’re probably too tired to keep up with it.

When you need a break, take a break – but make it count!

When I need a break I normally go “check our Facebook real quick” and, next thing I know, it’s an hour later and I’m not even feeling any less exhausted. I feel like a zombie who woke up from a coma. Not fun!

Before opening your procrastination weapon of choice, take a moment and ask yourself, What single thing would make me feel like a million bucks right now?

Listen to the answer and do what it says.

It’s that simple!

Read also: How To Change Your Life For Better In 6 Simple Steps

Conclusion

We’ve all made mistakes and fallen behind on our goals. And this is true even for individuals you admire and desire to be like have made mistakes and fallen behind on their goals. Getting back on track isn’t always easy, but it is achievable if you make a commitment to do so.

When life seems to be spinning out of control, it’s a warning that we need to take a step back and reevaluate our situation.
When everything start to fall apart all at once, it’s usually an indication that we’ve lost our sense of equilibrium. Instead of viewing the circumstance as a setback, consider it a learning opportunity. When you’ve gotten off track, have a glance around to see what you can learn.

Your turn to share.

Are you procrastinating or taking a break? What’s the task you should be working on?

I’ll keep you accountable

AboutKara

I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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