Wed | Jan 23, 2019

The juggling act

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMCorine La Font

I don't know which moves faster - time or the time I am wasting! Maybe you can tell me or maybe you are in the same position as I am. Not a good situation. One of us better get it right soon!

It feels familiar, right? Many days you start the day all revved up, ready to go and you think to yourself, YES, today is moving smoothly, I can see myself getting through everything I set out on my to-do list, and BAM! Something throws you for a spin and there goes all the well-laid-out plans on your to-do list. There goes that happy feeling into one of overwhelm and frustration as you see time ticks by and you are not getting closer to meeting your goals.

This article is about staying focused no matter what and knowing when to say no. It is easy to get distracted, especially when you work from home, so here we go with some discipline tips. These apply to whether you are writing a book or carrying out a job or business. Of course, if you have a few tips to add, feel free to share them with me.

1. First things first - Set out your goals the day or night before. Successful people plan at least 30-90 days before. That's called forward planning. That way, when the 15th day rolls around, you can't find or shouldn't find an excuse for not doing what is already scheduled.

2. Prepare for the unexpected - Yes, we have heard this before, but do we really do it? I think we only apply it to specific areas of our lives like preparing for that so-called 'rainy day'. It is also applicable in your daily life. You need to cater for the unexpected calls from overseas, your friend who wants to talk and doesn't respect that because you work from home, you have working hours. The time you carve out will vary from person to person as you look back to make a guesstimate of how much time was taken away from you when you accommodated these types of distractions.

3. Do a digital detox - Yes, I said it! Especially for those of you who can't figure out how to turn off your phones. It is pretty simple. Just press the power button! If you want to focus, then you have to do this. It also means turning off all - TV, radio, social networks and any other application or device except the one that you are using to do your work. Many writers often go to a hideaway or retreat to get away from all encumbrances and distractions of the modern world. You should do the same when needed, and there are some really good benefits to your mental, physical and spiritual state of being, too.

4. Time yourself - Get a timer on your computer or use a kitchen timer to set the duration for carrying out a specific task or activity. It may be writing two blogs or a chapter of your book or working on your website. Whatever it may be, approximate how long it will take and challenge yourself to meet or beat that time without compromising the quality and setting your hair on fire from brain overdrive! Timers are also good to help you know over time, how best to schedule yourself and better manage your days. If you were quoting someone for a service to be done, this is really helpful in calculating a more realistic cost for your time.

5. Saying NO - Yes, you can say NO! Saying no, especially to your friends and family, can be a challenge. Sometimes they will even pull the guilt trip out of the hat. Ignore it. Tell them you love them and say you will speak to them at another time. Of course, if it is an emergency, that's another matter, but there are emergencies, and there are emergencies. Let's get real. If you do the digital detox, you can also have a voice mail on your phone that will take messages and you can set a specific welcome voice mail that indicates your working hours and how persons can make contact or forward them to someone who may be working for you like a virtual assistant, to allow you to focus. It's called delegation!

6. Be realistic - Some of us try to do too many things and frustrate ourselves unnecessarily. Here's what I say. Of the never-ending to-do list, just pick one or two things that you want to get done each day and make sure when selecting the two activities, that you choose those that will strategically leapfrog you closer to your goals. Some of us focus on the little stuff that gets us nowhere fast.

7. Become your own project - Projects are not only found and created at the workplace. Make yourself a project, plus you can have

smaller projects you want to get done which may include writing your book, losing weight, marketing and promotions, travel or even to start a business. It doesn't matter. A quote was shared with me by a good friend and I think it is applicable here - "Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection" - Mark Twain. Projects may have an end date at the workplace but when you become a project, there is no end date. You are constantly improving. You are constantly improving your writing, marketing and promotions and your investment in your business.

8. You always get a do over - Don't beat yourself up too much if you don't get it right from the first step. No one does. You always get a do over. The sun comes out every morning no matter what happened the day before. The past is in the past, so just follow the steps above; add some more to the list if you'd like, share them with me and let's get out of the juggling act. That's for the circus!

n Corine La Font is a speaker, author, coach and self-publishing consultant. She is also an award-winning publishing resource in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards. Get a copy of her book at, Subscribe to her magazine at tune in

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