On Focus

10 Favors You Can Do for Yourself Every Day

by Patti Johnson

We do get in our way sometimes, don’t we? Here are some simple gifts you can give yourself every day to keep you focused on what you can do:

  1. Control the tapes in your head. You are sabotaging yourself if your first reaction is how it’s someone else’s fault, how things never go your way or why your situation is tougher than everyone else’s. Our thoughts affect how we feel, which affects our actions. Self-discipline starts with your thoughts. Pack up the blame game. Be kind to yourself and be responsible for you. No one else has that much influence over your day.
  2. Own up to your multitasking. You know you can’t do this even though you think you can. If you are multitasking on important things with important people, it’s a losing proposition. I am pretty addicted to my phone. I admit it. My husband has mentioned a discussion we had and I somehow missed just a few little important details. But I did answer the pressing email! I am trying to lessen my phone dependence for Lent. I know. I’m working on it.
  3. Change one thing in your routine. In my blog on ideas for shaking up 2013, I mentioned the dependence we have on habit. Changing just one little thing can change how you think about your life, your work or your day. Come into the office early to have some quiet time to plan your day. Go to the Bible study you have had on your list for a year. Turn off the TV and take a walk. It doesn’t have to be big. Small changes remind us that we can do more than we think.
  4. Inspire yourself. I have been reading more and listening to inspiring podcasts in the car or on walks. This is like having a personal motivational speaker or renowned expert right there in the passenger seat! Why don’t we do this more often? This is a great way to learn more, focus on gratitude, and stay centered. I’m not a Pollyanna (though some may disagree), but seriously, if you only think about what is wrong, the changes you want to make will always seem too big.
  5. Spend 30 minutes connecting and reconnecting. A mentor once told me to spend 30 minutes every day staying in touch with my network and business friends.Don’t be the “guy” who asks to meet for coffee during the job search, never to be heard from again until the next job change. Make a call on your way to the office. Send an email. Show interest and concern if you want to have good relationships. Check how the new job is going, the bumpy relationship with the boss or share helpful information. Be willing to give without expecting anything in return.
  6. Don’t make everyone’s problem your problem. Your boss is having a bad day. The supplier doesn’t like the new product you designed. Your co-worker won’t share any credit. These situations can hit your emotions and change how you feel and interact with others. This is when the “What’s in my control?” question is great to ask. This is another way of saying, “Don’t give others the power over your day.”
  7. Do one thing toward your big goals. Most of us have a fast paced career or life and everything needs (or seems to need) immediate attention. If your goal is starting a business, but you have a full-time job, do one small thing every day that moves you closer toward being an entrepreneur. Set up a lunch for some advice. Do some research online. Work on your financial plan for getting started. Don’t let the fire hose of little things overtake your big things.
  8. Use the “Will it matter in 2 weeks?” test. Last week a team member was devastated over a mistake she made in communicating with a business contact and “felt sick to her stomach.” After talking about it, we concluded that she had apologized gracefully and it wouldn’t matter in two weeks. She let it go. We all have disappointments in our careers or make mistakes because we are human. We have to regroup and move on to the next option. I use this question often because it helps separate the passing frustrations from the big issues that need more attention.
  9. Call your mother. OK, yes, I’m a mother, so I’m slightly partial here, but I mean all of the important people in your life. After some recent losses, I am reminded that family and close friends aren’t always magically there. Don’t take these relationships for granted. Enjoy them! Call often! And, to my oldest son in college, texting me first is the next best thing.
  10. Don’t sleep with your phone. Make sure you get the mental break you need to clear your head and not be in constant contact. Even the hyper-connected benefit from time to relax and think on their own. I’m working on this myself. I am convinced that it’s a part of being more intentional, thoughtful and focused.

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