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5 Habits for Focus and Productivity

Reading productivity articles has been my go-to because I’m intrigued by the people who can accomplish so much in a day or week. I guess I’m looking for the secret sauce of their success. But along the way, I created my success sauce, which keeps me on a better productivity track. Here are the top five habits I lean on the most for my productivity success.

Timed Work Sessions

I used to think I “should” work for long periods to stay in the flow and not get sidetracked. Unfortunately, my mind didn’t agree with that idea and would wander off to more exciting pastures. My time was wasted while trying to strong-arm my attention and stay on the task at hand.

Once I embraced the Pomodoro technique, my way of working became more powerful. To use this technique, I set a timer for 25 minutes and work diligently on a single task without allowing multitasking or distractions. Once the timer goes off, I take a 5-minute break and start the next 25-minute process.

After repeating this process for four or five cycles, I can take a much longer break of 30 minutes to refresh my brain.

These regular breaks incorporated with movement helped me recharge and relax so I could return to work. I was pleased because I felt more like a sprinter than a marathoner, plus I gave my brain some wandering time. Despite that, wandering time does not include phone scrolling or YouTube diving. My wandering has to incorporate boundaries so I don’t get off the pathway and head in directions that are not beneficial for the day.

 

Be Realistic about the Day

My ADHD brain starts the day with “go big or go home” plans. And it tends to end the day with “went hard and ran out of steam”.

This type of thinking made it difficult to celebrate accomplishments at the end of the day since I had created unrealistic expectations of what could be done in a typical workday (emphasis on “normal”). My idea of not celebrating until the whole task was completed kept me from feeling satisfied at the end of the day. It was a cycle of disappointment which colored the next day’s endeavors.

These days, I work to adjust my expectations and make sure my daily goals are manageable. I permit myself to lower the bar if the day is not progressing as expected and break down tasks into doable steps for the allocated time.

At the end of the day, I celebrate my achievements, no matter how small, and these motivate me to keep plugging away the next day.

 

Push Through The Discomfort

I feel discomfortable with tasks I don’t understand the need for, that I do not have the information to complete, or that seem complicated and long. When there is some associated “pain point” with a task, I want to pull away to anything else that feels better. I always intend to have a swift detour, but that rarely happens. I have struggled with this procrastination cycle for so long that it has become the default go-to when experiencing discomfort around a task.

Now, I choose to muscle through the discomfort and allow myself to push through the pain for at least five minutes to get past the wall of misery. Most times, that little bit of momentum will keep me going. I also engineer my environment more effectively by eliminating or reducing distractions, which makes finding those detours more difficult. So my phone is in another area, and having blocks installed on the browser makes diversions inconvenient.

 

When Stuck in a Hole, Quit Digging

We have all probably had those times when we know something but just can’t get access to it in our brain – the phrase “it’s on the tip of my tongue” is common in these conditions. We are stuck because we have sunk in a trench and can’t advance.

Walking away from the area and allowing my mind a break is the best tactic ever. Surprisingly, a quick walk outside unlocks my stuckness, and I am in motion again. At times, simply getting moving can grease the wheels, but the outdoors can be so calming that I will stroll outside anyway. Again, boundaries are essential, so I do not reach for my phone as a remedy. Otherwise, I will get hooked and off track for the day.

 

Evaluate and Adjust

Taking time at the end of a day and end of a week is a winning strategy and will pay off in dividends. I cannot make suitable course corrections without reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and what I will do in the future.

Folks who know where they are going don’t just come by that information naturally; they reflect,  evaluate, and adjust for the outcomes they want. And just like a roadmap, the sooner I modify when off course, the better my ability to reach my intended destination.

 

The bottom line is that I will always have days where it is tough to focus because distractions are readily available everywhere. I’m not always able to apply willpower to a situation, so specific strategies help me stay on track and get it done. Progress is being made, one day at a time!

Katherine Jahnke

Katherine Jahnke

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder