The Secret To Staying On Task

by Brad Isaac on April 17, 2007

You’re working at home today, and you get up for the twelfth time to wander through the kitchen, refill your coffee, and look longingly at your kid’s leftover holiday candy that you don’t need to eat another piece of. What’s wrong with you? You have work you should be doing, but it’s hard to stay focused.

Truth be told, you’re not alone. Staying on task is the number one problem people report when they work from home. Luckily, though, there are several strategies you can use to stay on top of things.

First, as silly as it may sound, make a to-do list. You can do this with a post-it note at your desk, or you can make one in an application like Outlook or Google Calendar. However you choose to do it, though, make it specific, and set clearly definable goals. Be sure to prioritize your list accordingly.

Second, divide your day or work period into blocks of time. Fifty minutes works well for most people. At the end of fifty minutes, give yourself a short break and focus on something else. Whether it’s a novel or an excerpt from a radio program, just getting your mind away from your job for a few minutes will give you better on task focus.

Finally, be aware of how you’re using your time so you can more formally evaluate what causes you to get off task and avoid those problems entirely.

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{ 5 comments }

Eric S. Mueller April 17, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Very true. Whether at home or at the office, it’s important to make a list of what must be done, and taking regular breaks is important as well.

Marie April 18, 2007 at 10:35 pm

That’s right. I believe that our minds can’t stay focus on one thing for a long time. That’s why it’s difficult to finish a long task without any breaks. To do list is also important to stay on track.

Herman April 19, 2007 at 2:07 am

Along with a to-do list, I think it’s also important to have a to-stop-doing list. The key to productivity sometimes is to stop wandering through the kitchen, stop refilling your coffee, and stop look longingly at your kid’s leftover holiday candy.

Helen April 20, 2007 at 1:19 am

I agree. People are just stressing themselves for not taking short breaks. It will be even worse if our tasks are not organized. Our minds will be confused with the arrangement of our task.

Kathy November 13, 2008 at 12:32 am

Picture the outcome of accomplishing the goal at hand. Now picture the outcome if the goal is not completed. The stronger the mental image and consequences, the more focus the project receives. And hopefully, the less appealing organizing your desk drawer becomes. Picture the key people involved in the project and their reactions. Do what it takes to be a success.There is a reason it is your goal. By the way, I really got to get back to what I was doing.

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