It’s right about this time that your resolution starts to take a back seat—crowded out by the buzzing and relentless demands of your every day. It is what it is; life takes over. The problem isn’t that you can’t achieve what you want, but that your lack of focus is making you so stressed you can’t get done what matters most to you. The key to follow through is maintaining focus.
Experience Life magazine (a solid publication, and one of my faves) is doing a five-part series inspired by David Allen’s organizational system Getting Things Done. Senior editor Laine Bergeson writes,
“The creative process requires focus and freedom from distraction. Whether you want to launch a new work initiative or write a novel in your free time, you need to tame chaotic thinking (ideally, achieving a state Allen calls ‘mind like water’) and carve out enough mental space and focus to do high-level thinking.”
Here’s how to make it happen:
- Do a “mind sweep.” In order to get anything, let alone everything, done, Allen says you need to free up all the nagging thoughts and to-dos floating around your brain, taking up space and energy. Write down what’s on your mind: What has to get done? What do you keep trying not to forget to do? Do a stream-of-consciousness session and dump everything out on paper.
- Clear your space. Good luck with that high-level thinking when there’s unopened mile and stacks of unsorted papers, cords, what have you cluttering up your workspace. One thing I do when it’s time for an overhaul is remove every item from the desk, wipe it down and only put back my notebook, computer, and whatever item I’m working on. That’s it. Everything else must find a home elsewhere. Ask yourself: What is on my desk right now…and why?
- Brainstorm. Allen describes this process as a kind of mind sweep on a particular project or theme. When you train your brain on one issue and write down all the thoughts associated with it, you’re sorting through and gaining control over disjointed ideas so that you can become more mentally organized and gain momentum on that project. What is the most pressing project—what do you know about it, what insights do you have, what actions need to be taken to get the resources you need to follow through? Now you have an action plan.
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Terri Trespicio is a media personality, lifestyle expert, and coach. Visit her at territrespicio.com