by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh-President Word Branch Media
The last week has been hectic: I’ve ended a semester, and a five-year teaching job; we traveled three hundred miles to find a new house, and we have been rushing to sell our current house. On top of that, I have been keeping up with CRT Writing Services. I feel as unfocused as my slightly hyper Australian Sheppard who thinks he’s a large Jack Russell Terrier.
However, I have to focus. I don’t have the luxury, as Ozzie does, to let it go until after I take a nap. I have deadlines to meet and responsibilities to other people (see previous blog!). And through my own trial and error process, I’ve found that helplessly staring at the keyboard really doesn’t get the job done. So what’s a frazzled writer/teacher/new-home owner to do?
As you may have gathered, I am a list maker. Technologically sophisticated or shockingly simple, making a list gives me guidance. You may feel that lists confine you; you simply can’t be helped by anything as mundane as a list! I beseech you to give it a try; listing can make the most intimidating set of tasks look manageable. And don’t forget to prioritize. Watching all the recorded TiVo sit-coms may be at the top of your list, and possibly the more appealing option, but it probably won’t get your more pressing tasks done.
Once you lay out your plan of attack, stay calm. I find that if I have a clear head, I am more able stay on task. This part is very individual. Some people need absolute quiet while others work best with heavy metal blaring through an MP3 player. I need a window close by with natural sunlight for my work area, but other people find a window too distracting.
Ask yourself honest questions about your own behaviors and create a workspace that makes you comfortable and at ease with the least amount of distractions. I’m a yoga person. I find even just twenty minutes of yoga puts everything into perspective, evens out my breathing, and unkinks tight muscles. I feel focused and refreshed. There are even many yoga workouts that you can do at a desk, and at work, without attracting too much attention. My favorite online yoga workout source is www.yogadownload.com. You, however, may not be a yoga person, but there are a number of yoga-like techniques that can help your focus. The GYGO Breathing Ball add-on for the Windows’ sidebar is one of my favorite quick fixes. This is a graphic of an expanding and deflating ball to which you match your breathing. I find that even a few breaths clear my head and enable me to focus better. There are dozens of free, or nearly free, gadgets that can give you the same affect.
If there is that one nagging chore that is preventing you from focusing on all of the other chores, then get it out of the way. Chances are that you are focusing on it because it is either unpleasant or seems too trivial to bother with. If it is the latter, get it out of the way. It’s not trivial if it is preventing you from doing other tasks. If it the former, consider why it is unpleasant. Often, mildly disagreeable jobs become monsters in our minds. The longer they are not dealt with, the bigger they grow. If you’re able to do it immediately, get it over with so you can move on. If it has to wait for whatever reason, get it into perspective. It probably isn’t as bad as you think it will be.
And never underestimate the power of rewards. Even a short walk or a small treat can help you focus on the next project.
Although you may use this advice freely, the writing is copyrighted and may not be used without the express permission of Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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