Focus on What's Really Important

In today’s fast paced world, it is easy to spend an entire day answering emails, reading reports, juggling phone calls, and still feeling like you didn't get anything done the entire day.

No doubt at all you were busy the entire day. But you didn't really get anything important done that day.

To make progress toward your goals, prioritize your tasks and minimize the distractions that slow you down. Here are a few tips to help you in this process.

1. Slow down before you start up.

Take 5 minutes to get centered before starting your workday. This can actually improve your productivity by at least 30%. Set a timer, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Once your time is up, focus only on the important tasks at hand.

2. Refocus on your TRUE goals.

It is easy to get caught up with all the expectations placed on you by others. Take a few moments to write down what you would like to accomplish this year, this month, this week and today. Structure your day’s tasks around that, and your work will feel meaningful.

3. Remove distractions.

Remove or turn off all the things that will create distractions for you. Common distractions are the phone, email, TV, or even a small child who needs your constant attention (especially for work-at-home moms). Either remove the distraction or remove yourself from the location, so you can focus on the tasks at hand.

4. Email can wait.

Opening your inbox can feel like stepping into a firefight. You are instantly faced with action items, and "urgent" communication from co-workers. Schedule time to respond to your emails and voicemails, after spending 2 or 3 hours on the important tasks of the day. Most email and voicemail are not truly urgent.

5. Keep your commitments.

We seem to be very good at keeping our commitments to others. But we quickly break our commitments to ourselves. We all do this - we made a commitment to eat healthier (but settle for fast food) or to exercise (but there's a work deadline) or even get a massage (but a work emergency came up) or that much-needed vacation (but the office will fall apart without you!).

Breaking commitments to ourselves sends a message that other things are more important than our goals and desires. Set small goals and complete them so you can get into the habit of honoring your commitments to yourself, and sending the message that your goals do matter.

What can YOU do that is really important TODAY?