Gig Tips: Focus and Concentrate!!

Do you sometimes feel like you are running in all directions and not getting anywhere?   Think of the roles that we play:  mother, spouse, co-worker, boss, subordinate, sister, daughter, friend….   and all the things that we are meant to do to be successful at each.

But this post is about being able to focus and concentrate at work…

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Do you find that you can’t help but let these kinds of thoughts creep into your head:

  • What are we going to have for dinner tonight?
  • Shit… I forgot to defrost something
  • What about my kids’ hives the other day?  Is this some sort of food allergy?
  • What do I need to do to get that promotion at work?
  • How am I going to get this stuff done by 5:00 PM when I have to rush out of here?
  • I wonder what is on TV tonight?
  • Will husband help me with the laundry?
  • This daydreaming has got to stop…. his body, his hands… his smell…  I want to get sweaty right now.   Wait a minute, are those kegels that I’m doing right now?
  • Let’s check my personal email again.   I know it’s been 15 minutes, but still…
  • I still need to order things for the kids for Halloween….
  • Shit we have 3 birthday parties this weekend….
  • ….
  • ….
  • ….

If you’ve come here thinking that I’m going to share my wisdom on how I focus at work, this is the wrong post for you baby.   I have been distracted lately with big work meetings, ramping up and ramping down, my personal love life heating up (think FIRE, think “talent”), the divorce process wearing on my patience, sick kids, and a draining bank account…. Work has been good for me at this time since these meetings are keeping me on track, a bit.  But still….

How to focus?  How to concentrate in the midst of all of this?   Maybe I’ll start a list and then lose my focus and come back to it (HA).    Sound like a plan?    Here it goes:

  • Write out a do-able list at the beginning of the day.  It has to be realistic, it has to be manageable.
  • Schedule meetings that need to be done that day and the next that will help you to push your work along.  My work is always dependent upon someone else at some point in time, so it’s important for me to carve out appointments in advance to give me a deadline to shoot for.
  • Turn off your personal email.
  • If really pressed, and if you can actually do this, turn off your work email too.
  • Get your desk organized.  Clear away clutter.
  • Get a big glass of water to refresh yourself.
  • Every 30 minutes or so, get up and stretch.  Walk away and take a break.  Then come back to what you are doing.
  • If something enters your mind that is distracting like a to-do item, write it down, or email it to yourself, etc. so that you feel like you’ve captured the thought but you can move on away from it.
  • Think about why it is that you are doing this particular task.  What is the end result?  What will be the impact?   How important is this?
  • Just get started.  Sometimes starting the effort is the hardest part.  Just dive in.

OK, I’m losing focus now and doing my kegels again (stop it!!!!).     I’ll turn back to this topic again, I promise.

In the meantime, what do you do at work to focus and concentrate on the work things that you need to do????  Please share!

Thanks for listening, and humoring me.  Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!

– Mama K

Gig Tips: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I came across the article below that summarizes the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Steven Covey who died today.   

I’ve added my commentary about the implications to working mothers.   After reading through the 7 Habits, and thinking about the Working Mother, I honestly believe that Working Mothers have it harder at first, but over time, the fact that we work and have kids sharpens these skills and actually puts us at an advantage.    Perhaps being a seasoned Working Mother by definition means that you are “highly effective”.

Please add to this and let us know your thoughts…


RIP Stephen Covey: Here Are His Famous ‘7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’

Shlomo Sprung|Jul. 16, 2012


“In honor of renowned author Stephen Covey, who died this morning at age 79, we’ve decided to succinctly break down the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” from his all-time best-selling book, which sold 20 million copies.

Here’s the short version… “

“1) Be Proactive

As human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. We have the independent will to make our own choices and decisions, and the responsibility (“the ability to respond”) to make the right choices. You have the freedom to choose your own fate and path, so having the independent will, imagination and self-awareness to make the right move makes you a proactive, and not a reactive, person.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • Sometimes this is difficult to believe in when you feel that you need to provide the best for your family.  I’ve written a lot recently about the tradeoffs between Money and More Quality Time with Your Family.   You may FEEL like you do not have a choice, but in many cases you actually DO have that choice.  Take charge of your life.  You only get one of them.   Believe in the choices that you have in front of you.  See the choices.   Believe that they are within reach.  Do not fear change.  Go for it.  Whether it be the decision to scale back work to spend more time with your children, or go for that promotion at work, or decide to change jobs/careers… you get it.   Don’t get stuck.  Believe in yourself and KNOW that you DO have choices in front of you.   You need the courage to SEE them.

“2) Begin With The End In Mind

Mental visualization is extremely important. Covey says that all things are created twice: first, the mental conceptualization and visualization and a second physical, actual creation. Becoming your own creator means to plan and visualize what you’re going to do and what you’re setting out to accomplish and then go out and creating it. Identifying your personal statement and your principles will help.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • This is also difficult for working mothers to do at first.  Sometimes our time horizon is just getting through the week, or even getting through the day unscathed.   It is difficult to raise your head above the day-to-day craziness and  juggling of work and home to see that longer-term path.   But I’ve heard that it gets easier.   And as the kids grow your time becomes more of your own.  And your focus can be realigned more with your career.   But even if it is not, even if you want that long-term horizon to be you as a mom being the best mom you can be, you can still chart your course.  Imagine, visualize, and then make happen.  
  • For me, I’ve always envisioned being the one to drop off the kids at school and being there for them for pick up and to help with homework while food is cooking; that vision is still in my mind.  And I am still working hard to make that happen.

“3) Put First Things First

With your power of independent will, you can create the ending you want to have. Part of that comes with effective time management, which is divided into what is urgent and what is not urgent. If you deal with crises, pressing problems and deadline-driven projects first, your life will be a lot easier.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • We have a leg-up here ladies.  If ANYONE can multi-task, resolve problems, prioritize, and effectively use our time, WE can.  We can do this in our sleep.  Being a mom has trained us.  Applying these skills professionally becomes more natural to us.   Think of whack-a-mole.   Working mothers, I believe, are simply trained personally and professionally to excel here.

“4) Think Win/Win

If you believe in a better way to accomplish goals that’s mutually beneficial to all sides, that’s a win/win situation. “All parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan,” Covey wrote. “One person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.” If you have integrity and maturity, there’s no reason win/win situations can’t happen all the time.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • Think about how you negotiate with your children.  Think about how you position things/plans/activities/responsibilities with your kids to get them motivated to do the things you want them to do.  For example, giving them a CHOICE between something (e.g., carrots, or string beans?) and packaging it in a way that makes it seem like they are in control.  They feel independent, and you get them to eat their veggies.  Win / Win.   We know how to do this and we do it daily with our kids.  All of the time.  This is a skill that we have perfected.

“5) Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

If you’re a good listener and you take the time to understand a concept, it will help you convey your opinions, plans and goals to others. It starts with communication and strong listening skills, followed by diagnosing the situation and then communicating your solution to others.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • Again – being a mom has surely helped you to go beyond your own needs to think about the needs of someone else.  As your babies grow, they communicate to you.   We’ve learned that to stop the tantrums from happening, we proactively LISTEN to our children and we let them know that WE HEAR them and that we UNDERSTAND.   We REPEAT the issue to the child (my goodness that IS a big owie.  You must have been scared when you fell down.  That must have hurt you!).   Providing a solution afterwards is always easier after the person/child knows that you’ve heard them, see them, and understand.

“6) Synergize

Synergistic communication, according to Covey, is “opening your mind and heart to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.” This applies to the classroom, the business world and wherever you could apply openness and communication. It’s all about building cooperation and trust.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • The wonder of our children help us here.  Their minds are unlimited.  They don’t have strict biases.   They are possibly the most creative that they will be – over time our creativity becomes stiffled for some reason.  I believe that working mothers can learn from our children here and apply how children think to the working world.  Keep an open mind – break down your barriers of thought.   Working moms are lucky to have their kids serve as role models for them.

“7) Sharpen The Saw

Sometimes you’re working so hard on the other six habits that you forget about re-energizing and renewing yourself to sharpen yourself for the tasks in front of you. Some sharpening techniques include exercise and nutrition, reading, planning and writing, service and empathy and commitment, study and meditation.”

Mama K’s thoughts on the Implications to Working Mothers:

  • This is commonly understood.  “A happy mommy is a happy family”.   You need to take care of yourself.   Working mothers become aware of this need almost immediately – almost the first day back from maternity leave.  The question of “how the hell am I going to be able to DO all of this???” and then short-changing yourself.  It is not sustainable.  Hopefully the working mother learns this early and makes choices early on so as not to lose herself.

What do you think????   What else resonates with you???  Please share your thoughts!

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

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