Staying on Task When Life Threatens to Derail You.

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Spinning your wheels trying to get everything done in your day? Decrease frustration and increase productivity with these simple tips.

We all have those days that we planned to accomplish a lot only to discover the time got hoovered away by some unforeseen event. It isn’t your fault if a water pipe bursts, your kids get sick or your long lost niece shows up for a day visit, that turns into three. But if time is always running away from you and you still haven’t made a dent in your to-do list, you may need strategies to help you make the most of your 24 hours.

Find Your Time Wasters

For me, it was television. I would sit down to watch one show and then next thing I knew the whole evening had passed me by. Day after day, week after week. Until I took the TV by the antennas and tossed it. Yes, really. I have been living TV free for over five years. What could you do with an extra 20 hours a week?
Your time waster might be Facebook, or YouTube or talking on the phone. I used to write long emails until I read the Tim Ferris answers most of his in 4 lines. What parts of your day take the most of your time?

frank-okay-109313.jpgMake a List

At the end of each day: Review what you’ve accomplished and feel good about it! Then consider what needs to be done the next day and write it down.
If what didn’t get finished today is still a priority tomorrow, put it at the top of the list and do it first thing.
Write down small and large tasks. Getting a few quick jobs completed can boost your morale and your motivation to keep going. Maybe you’re like me and you love crossing an item off your list. Even if you get distracted and lose an entire day, when you see your list, you can get back on track.

Monster Projects

Got a giant overwhelming project looming? I try to keep monster jobs to one a week. Whether painting a room or writing a book, break it down into manageable chunks. It will help you feel less overwhelmed if you can tame the task and complete one part each day.

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Write down everything you want to accomplish in a week, from writing an epic novel to the piled-high laundry and cooking meals.
•If you’re able to prioritize your list by difficulty, do the hardest job first. The rest of the list will be a breeze!
•By varying your tasks, you’ll feel good about your progress and get other smaller tasks done as well.be more likely to stay interested in them
•Consider knocking out smaller tasks to give yourself a sense of completion which helps motivate you to knock out even more. It is possible on even your most challenging day to accomplish at least one minor task, like paying the bills or pre-packing snacks for school lunches.
•I’m the type that works on something for a while and then moves to something else for a while and then something else. These “first passes” at my tasks lets me get them started. When I come back to them, they’re less daunting and closer to finished. When I finally get to cross it off the list, it spurs me on.

Reward Yourself

Certainly, with all that you’ll be accomplishing, you deserve a little something! You might set up smaller rewards along the way. It could be a chocolate, a decadent coffee or a 15- minute walk in the fresh air. Decide how you will treat yourself and then follow through. The important thing is to keep yourself motivated so you can finish with a smile.
•Were you able to get the hardest thing off your list for the day? Kudos to you!
•You completed that unpalatable gigantic task? Reward!
•You finished your entire list for the day? Reward!
jonathan-pielmayer-61902.jpgWhether you choose an adult beverage when the kids go to bed, an hour of reading that juicy novel, it’s your reward. What rewards motivate you?

Be Kind to Yourself

On the (hopefully rare) days that you fail completely, practice good self-care. That means not beating yourself up. Take time to reflect on what derailed you and script an action plan for the next time. Keep in mind your goal to finish strong. If staying on task is new for you, know that it takes time to develop a good habit. Wake up tomorrow and just keep going forward.

I encourage you to keep your lists in a binder or a box. Every once in a while it does the soul good to pull them out and read through them and see all that you have managed to finish over weeks and months. You’re seeing proof that whatever you put your mind to, you can accomplish.
Have some ideas that work for you? Please share them in comments.

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