For the last few weeks I have been working with four siblings who are downsizing their parent’s possessions in the family home they lived in for 50 years. One parent has passed and the other is no longer able to live alone. In the next few months, the family home will be listed for sale hence the need to clear it out.
It is quite fascinating to have four clients instead of one or two. Many hands on a project of this size do make light work, but lack of focus has caused the train to derail somewhat. It almost seems as though more hands on the job has caused more confusion. After day one they were telling me how helpful it was to have me there to keep them focused. Which, naturally, got me interested in how we get and stay focused.
Have a Plan – as always a step-by-step plan is absolutely essential with estimated timelines attached.
Don’t Get Distracted – when you’re clearing years and years of family memories, it is very easy to get distracted. Try your very best to stick to the task in front of you. Don’t look around at all the other things you could be doing. I like to start on one side of the room and move around section by section. Or start at the front and move to the back if the room is very full, and then go around the sides.
Take Breaks – we all know that taking breaks is a key to productivity no matter what you’re working on. Get lots of fluids and eat regularly. Word of warning – be sure to go back to the place you left off. Whatever you do, don’t start something new after a break.
Review and Reset – after each work session, take a step back and review your progress. Even if it’s only small, celebrating any progress at all will help you keep going. If something took longer than expected, revise your timeline. Make a plan for exactly what you will tackle next time and so on.
Be Realistic – lack of focus can be detrimental on all fronts, both work and personal. And staying focused is becoming more and more difficult with the myriad of distractions from technology. Staying focused may mean that you have to take on fewer things. I see so many people with a dozen balls in the air at one time and nothing gets completed. Please be realistic.
Like anything, developing skill takes practice. Practice increasing your focus muscles by using them. What’s been your experience? Were you able to stay focused on a particularly difficult project? How did you do it? What would you do differently next time?
Get more done in less time! Get organized!