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How To Stay On Task

By Bridgette Boudreaux

I am in awe whenever I watch the performance of Drew Brees, the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, during a football game.  During a play and within a few seconds, Drew Brees must find a team mate to throw the football to with the goal of getting yards and ultimately a touchdown.  He must throw the football with precision and he must stay focused despite the many distractions around him on the field. Those distractions include the defense trying to tackle him, fans and the opposing team yelling simultaneously & all the numerous noises in the stadium.  How does he do it?   I can’t believe the close up camera shot of Brees being tackled while throwing the football; his eyes remain focused on the path of the ball as oppose to the person tackling him. His focus is awesome.  If the play didn’t go as planned, he doesn’t give up – he continues despite the challenges.  I am not an avid football fan, nor do I always follow the games but the focus of Drew Brees always motivates me to lose control & yell “Who Dat”!

There are numerous distractions & maybe a few emergencies throughout the day that can pull you away from your planned tasks.  Once distracted, it’s often difficult to return to the same activity. According to a study by Microsoft it can take up to 15 minutes to get back on track with a task after an interruption.  Imagine 4 or 5 interruptions per day, & spending up to 1hr & 15 minutes or more of wasted time trying to get back on track of your task. Even worse, you may become so distracted that you never get back on task and end another day without accomplishing anything. What a bummer? 

If you want to stay on track with your tasks and get things done, follow these 3 simple steps daily.

Control Distractions & Keep Moving

Avoid distractions, especially those that you can control. For example, send all incoming telephone calls to your voicemail, put a do not disturb sign on your office door, unplug from your computer, put your cell phone ringer on silent. You can control and stop those distractions immediately. Also, don’t stop a task because its results aren’t perfect.  Accept the fact that every action and task will bring you closer to your goal.  Movement is better than being paralyzed.  If an event occurs that is unavoidable, tend to it then return to the task until completion.  Do not start another activity until the first task is completed.

Use a Kitchen Tool

Before you began a task, determine how much time you can devote to working on the task.  Grab a kitchen timer & set if for the amount of time required to start & complete a task. If you set the timer for one hour to complete a task, do not do any other activity for one hour.  When your timer goes off indicating that your time is up, celebrate, take a break then schedule your next task and set the timer.

Set Non-Tradition Hours

You do not have to follow the traditional 9 to 5 schedule, work at your highest peak performance to reach your highest productivity. Be flexible. Get up early in the morning before anyone in the household awakens.  If you are energized in the morning, schedule your most challenging tasks during that time.  If you are a night owl, schedule tasks during those non-peak hours.

If you incorporate these simple strategies into your work day, you will began to see your productivity soar instantly.  Start today.

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