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…

Photo source:  http://www.subliminalmessagecds.com/html/subliminal_message_cds/focus_concentration.htm

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

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December 19: Holiday Blues


I am reunited with the kids after a weekend of being away from them. I returned late last night and looked at each child sleeping – kissed them and covered them up and then went to sleep myself.

Highlights of the Morning and Commute:

  • This morning, Twin Crazy and Twin Husky came in – Twin Crazy was smiling and she ran over to me and gave me a hug; I said how I missed her and hugged her and how I wanted to see her face. She leaned back so I could see her face and she gave me a HUGE smile. Twin Husky was being coy. Red walked into the room and she smiled and sat in my lap. She showed me her new things that she got over the weekend. So sweet.
  • All kids downstairs were great; ate well. Talked about what they wanted. Got dressed/ready without a problem. It was a breeze….. until….
  • Red’s breakdown as we were leaving. She had a problem with her shoes…. which led to a problem with her jacket….. which led me to forget her lunch….. and we were running late. I dropped off Red and Big Bro at Red’s school (Big Bro’s public school is closed for 2 weeks so we are taking him to “camp” at Red’s school for several days each of the weeks). I had to pay for a hot lunch for Red today. I hope Big Bro packed his lunch in his backpack or else we will have to pay for him as well…..
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    Now on the ferry, it is quiet. I am wearing jeans. I will be busy today and am hoping the office is empty/quiet as well so I can get some work done. I’m looking forward to seeing my dad again at the end of the week. I needed a dose of family and feel lucky that I am getting a double-dose between my trip to celebrate his birthday and his trip out here to spend time with our family for Christmas. We will also need to celebrate his birthday again, since he is a Christmas Eve baby (and a twin, but that’s a separate point).

    Highlights of My Working Day:

  • I led our weekly staff meeting at lunch where we normally talk about workloads and what opportunities we need help proposing on or work we need help to execute – but because we are so close to the holidays, this was really time for us to shoot the shit. We talked about plans for the holidays, skiing, baby milestones, my kids holiday performances, etc.
  • I followed up on some admin-related items and billing for the forums I am managing.
  • I attempted to get the meeting minutes finished, and also my client deliverable finished, but I just did not have the initiative. I’m feeling down. I just couldn’t get myself started.
  • I talked with a Director about some non-work related stuff – things going on with me and things going on with another colleague – not the kinds of things that are uplifting. But it’s good to talk to people and gain others perspective. It also makes you realize that we all have issues that people are dealing with. Some of them quite heavy. It upsets me when I know that someone is hurting but I can’t really reach out to them – if it is inappropriate or they are just not ready to talk or the problem is too recent, too raw for them. So that is what is happening with a colleague. And that brought me down a bit further today.
  • Don’t tell anybody (laugh), but I spent the rest of the day on personal items. I helped a friend (actually, an ex-Boss of mine from the past) who is about to publish a survey and I took the survey and gave him feedback on the structure/content. I made doctor and dentist appointments for the kids. I did some Christmas shopping via Amazon.com for the kids. Can you believe this???? I score a reduced work-week and I had the audacity to use the time today to do non-work related things???!?!? I feel guilty now. A bit. But just knowing that the kids are shopped for makes me feel good. A bit. A tiny bit.
  • I worked on my calendar for the rest of this short week and blocked out time for me to actually do work. I have three deliverables I must finish by Wednesday night. So hopefully tomorrow I will have the fire back and will get my shit done.
  • Now I’m on a train, headed to my weekly appointment. I have a lot to discuss tonight. I have a headache, I am tired from my travel weekend, and I am not feeling like me. For the first time I am feeling the “holiday blues”. I don’t like it. Not at all. Note to my friends: It will be a miracle if you get a holiday card from me this year. And if you get anything, it will be digital and sent through email/facebook/etc. 🙂

    Hopefully 2012 will bring a better set of opportunities and circumstances.

    Tonight when I get back I will miss the Twins’ bedtime routine entirely. This is hard for me since I didn’t see them this weekend. I will steal some time with Big Bro and Red. I will hold them close. I will smell their hair. And then I will retreat. Will then check on them while they are sleeping and then slumber myself.

    I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow!!
    Til tomorrow,
    – Mama K

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