How to Stay Focused When You're a World Class Daydreamer // Biz Blog
FILED IN: Education
Posted By: Jamie
I'm definitely not a doctor but I admit, I've diagnosed myself with some level of ADD. Truthfully, I kinda prefer the term 'daydreamer' instead even though we all know this condition usually involves a whole lot more than the occasional bout of daydreaming. Let's face it. Attention deficit disorder is a term that's tossed around in society a ton these days, especially as it relates to children. But there's also a lot written on adult ADD and I, my friends, strongly believe that I have the tendencies. I've developed some tricks to help me keep my always-wandering mind focused and on-track where it belongs designing wedding and corporate welcome gifts. It doesn't leave me 100% cured but it keeps the tendencies under control and allows me to successfully run both my business and personal life. So listen up all my sweet fellow daydreamers, here we go...
I can't emphasize this one enough. I make lists morning, noon and night. There have been times when I lie awake at night with my mind spinning about all the tasks I need to do the next day. I drag myself out of bed and make a list, and suddenly I'm able to sleep. There's something about visually seeing what's in front of me that prevents the work load from crowding my brain and causing stress. I continuously check things off the list as I go through the day (sense of accomplishment!) and re-do the list as needed. And yes, when I say "make lists", I'm referring to pen and paper. I tried going electronic for a short time but old-fashioned pen and paper just feels right. So, I do it.
I used to think that having everything on one calendar made most sense. After all, isn't looking at one place the most efficient? The answer is NO. Definitely NO. For me, I started noticing a pattern in the types of things I'd add to my schedule. Some were meetings and appointments. And others were more deadline-oriented like welcome gift orders or design work for styled shoots. Having everything in one place left me feeling scattered and fearful that's I'd somehow miss a deadline. I now keep two concurrent calendars plastered to the wall in my office, one called "Meetings" and one called "Projects". This allows me to visually see the pre-planning that needs to take place in order to meet deadlines for upcoming projects. By having my meetings completely separate, it keeps the "projects" calendar clean and simple so I never run the risk of missing anything. The calendars I use are the Pop Art Dry Erase Calendars from Container Store ($19.99/pack of 4) and I happen to think they're genius. They're wipeable and each month adheres separately to the wall. You can easily remove them without any adhesive left behind. I keep two 120-day sets up at a time representing both "Meetings" and "Projects", which means eight panels total. Okay, I admit. The whole pop art thing doesn't exactly go with my office decor but what I'm sacrificing in style, I'm making up for in peace of mind.
Social Media Limits
I am SO easily distracted. There are times where I literally get lost in the social media vacuum for hours and come out of the fog not even remembering what I was supposed to be doing in the first place. The key here is to make social media an actual task on your daily to-do list rather than something you have access to at all times. Close out the windows on your desktop and turn off the notification on your phone during certain windows of the day. You'll be amazed at how much better you're able to focus and stay on task when you don't have notifications popping up every few minutes, or even seconds! Decide how many times in a day you'll post, pre-plan what they'll be as much as you can, and stick to the schedule.
Similar to the calendar situation above, I used to think that having my personal and work emails all in the same inbox was most efficient. WRONG. I'd be on track with work and see a personal email come in and feel the need to respond to it immediately, even if it wasn't even remotely time sensitive. And once I did that, because of my daydreamer tendencies, I'd often lose track of my original focus and have a terrible time going back to whatever it was I was working hard on. These days, even on my smartphone, I keep my personal and work accounts totally separate and manually toggle back and forth between them. This way, it's intentional when I check each one instead being fed everything all at once.
Sometimes when a to-do list gets too long, I get overwhelmed and have that "I don't know where to start" feeling. I end up procrastinating and backing myself into a corner. To avoid this, I basically prioritize the to-do list. I add a star to each item I consider to be a "must do" for the day. If I end up getting more done, then great. But if not, then it's still considered a productive day.
Break Projects Down into Smaller Tasks
It's amazing how one project can seem daunting while if you simply break it down into smaller tasks and add those smaller tasks to a to-do list, they're way more manageable. Hey, sometimes I've even added something to my to-do list even if I've already completed it, just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. Baby steps, people! It really works and tricks your mind into staying on task.
This is something I think we all struggle with and that is fighting the urge to overcommit. Sometimes it's okay to say no to four or five meetings in one day. It's okay to allow yourself some latitude in-between meetings if you know that having back-to-back meetings is going to crowd your brain and leave you scattered. It's better to have a few very focused and productive meetings than five or six where your thoughts are all jumbled at the end because you've taken on way too much. This is the same for projects. If you know for a fact that saying 'yes' to that additional project means you're going to be frazzled and more likely to forget important details, then it's better to say 'no' and try to move it to a better time. This is really tough, especially when you're an entrepreneur and you want to grow, grow, grow! But trust me, people understand and would much rather you deliver quality than overcommit and let them down.
This isn't just true for business, it's also very true with your personal life. There have been times when I've been hesitant to say no to dinner plans even though I had a gazillion other things going on in the day. I committed to going and then, at the last minute, was forced to cancel. Moral of the story...be smart about your scheduling and allow yourself some grace. Learn much more about Marigold & Grey and the team here!
Top: ADD Crusher™ Blog / Middle: Container Store