Do you ever lose hours? I don’t mean you’ve lost hours because you have blacked out, I simply mean have you ever zoned out for awhile without realizing it? Have you looked up at the clock and thought, “Whoa! How is it noon already?”
There are times when daydreaming is a good idea, like when you’re on vacation and your mind deserves a break. It’s also important to pack some variety into your work day by alternating between mindful and mindless work. (Doing so will increase your creativity.)
Zoning out isn’t helpful, however, when you need to get work done. Staring off into space and losing time kill your productivity. If you need to get stuff done but are having a tough time of it, try one or more of these techniques to help regain your focus:
- Set an alarm for 10 minutes, and keep hitting snooze. When the alarm sounds, make a mental note of all the work you completed and then hit snooze. Do the same thing when the alarm sounds again in 10 minutes. The alarm helps to keep you on track when you mind is eager to wander elsewhere.
- Pretend to be a lawyer, and log your work in 15 minute billing intervals. You can download basic free time-tracking software from numerous companies to help get you started. Programs that automatically prompt you to input your progress are similar to an alarm that reminds you to stay on track.
- Identify very specific action items each hour. At the top of every hour, take two minutes to write out exactly what you plan to accomplish that hour. Then, work as diligently as possible to finish those action items. It’s a lot easier to get where you want to go when you know where you’re headed.
- Make yourself accountable to someone else. If you have a colleague or buddy who is game, tell her you want to be finished with a task by a specific time. Then, when that time rolls around, the person checks in with you to see how it went. Be kind and return the favor when the other person needs your assistance.
- Race a colleague to see how much work you can both get done in 30 minutes or an hour. Set an alarm, and go. Make the prize something small and fun, like the loser is responsible for refilling both of your coffee mugs.