Tuesday, July 7


elf sandals How do you manage what's on your plate when you feel life pulling you in lots of different directions?  Take this post for instance.  I'm trying to write a bit about focusing and my phone is blowing up, Poesy is showing me things, and I keep glancing at my to-do list for the day.  In a busy life, how do we make our brains stop skipping from one thing to the next to the next?  Here are some things that help me stop and really pour myself into what I'm doing:

1. Make that list, but don't let that list rule you.  To-do lists are great right?  They help us remember all the things we need to accomplish on any given day, week, or month.  Lists are totally helpful, they really are...  until they rule you.  Sometimes I get so obsessed with accomplishing everything on my list, that I feel overwhelmed and can't properly focus on what I'm doing.  My brain is skipping to the next thing I need to be doing and then jumping to what's coming after that.  This goes hand-in-hand with my next suggestion...

2. One thing at a time, kid.  Yeah.  We have a ton of stuff to do in life, right?  Go here, do this, see them, pick up that... instead of constantly looking ahead, grab one thing off of your list and don't think about the rest.  Block that junk out.  You'll get to what's important, trust me.  It will be there waiting for you.  Tackle one thing at a time.  This really helps me with that "overwhelmed by the to-do list" thing I was just talking about.

3. Prioritize.  I think this can go one of two ways, depending on your personality type.  For me, putting the things I'm not that excited about at the top of my priority list ensures that my procrastinating self can't spend the last half of my day bouncing around all the things I'm not that into, and basically accomplishing nothing.  I'm always more gung-ho and geared up in the first half of the work day, and I know this about myself, so I zap through the more taxing tasks while I have my brain all pumped up to do so.

If you aren't a procrastinator, you might find the opposite to be true.  I have friends who do the more pleasurable tasks first, and find that those things help motivate them to tackle the harder jobs later.

 4. Eliminate distractions.   This one seems like a no-brainer, right?  Turn off the phone, Katie.  Close the To-Do list for the time being, Katie.  Those emails will be there when you come back for them, Katie.  For some reason, this is the easiest solution and the one I forget the most.  "Oh!  I need to answer so-and-so's email.  Oh!  I have two songs to learn for band practice tonight!  Crap!  I was supposed to finish that diy project this week!"  My brain is constantly skipping from one thing I need to do to the next.  Instead of answering that text in the middle of that business email, turn off the phone (or whatever) so you can actually pay attention to that ONE task you're actually trying to do.

5. Remind yourself that there's no such thing as absolute balance.  I think a big reason I can have a hard time focusing on what I'm doing is because of self-applied pressure to balance family, work, hobbies, friends, etc.  Most of us can find SOME type of balance for most of this, but I don't believe there's a perfect balance to be achieved.  Even if I get myself in a specific routine, life happens.  Extra things pop up.  Friends call on a whim to hang out.  My kids need extra attention one day.  Let the pressure of "finding balance" go and just do what you can!  Life is not supposed to be a well-oiled machine.  It's random and messy and full of surprises.  That's usually when the best things happen, anyway!

Anyway, these are some things that have helped me really focus lately.  Of course, I often need reminded of these points, but I've been trying hard to be very present in whatever I'm doing.

What are some things you do to help you focus when you feel scattered or overwhelmed?  Let's talk about it!  xo.

**Sandals from Bali ELF.


  1. I needed to hear these words right now. I am beyond grateful!

    Thanks for sharing this and love from Germany,



  2. I love that last point! I can be a little hard on myself sometimes, especially with work deadlines, pressing family needs, and juggling a few creative projects. It helps me to remember that I don't have to be perfect and that life isn't necessarily supposed to be a "well-oiled machine." Imperfection and a touch of chaos are a part of a full, happy life!

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post!


  3. I have to make lists to get everything done too! If not I just end up doing a little bit of each thing and getting so confused and overwhelmed. Crossing things off is always helpful.

  4. My mind tends to bounce from one thing to the next, too. There were days I'd become so overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do that I'd end up accomplishing nothing (thanks a lot, stress). Since then, I've found a system that works for me in writing to-do lists. Typically, I'll list the most important/difficult things first, especially the things I don't want to do. Knowing I can't move on unless I've completed a task I dread makes me want to cross it off the list faster. The 'just do it' mentality comes in handy in those scenarios.

  5. I'm a big list maker - whenever I feel overwhelmed I sit down with coloured pens and some paper, and sort out my life - makes me feel so much better!
    Knitting and yoga help too :-)

  6. For me, number 4 is really the hardest to do!

  7. Love me some checklists. As a resident, they're crucial- they mean you can interrupt your note-writing on a patient to put in orders for a kid to get meds or check on a crappy breather, and still know what needs to be done when you get back. I was much less organized in med school, and I've found myself to be more successful (or at least less stressed about missing or forgetting things) as a resident by making lists. Great tips, Katie :)

  8. I'm a list girl too but dangle a treat to myself to do something fun or that I enjoy after I've done a chore I don't like. I work my way through my list that way and yes I can become a slave to my list as well so I sit abc have a cup of tea, prioritise

  9. Sorry phone glitch there, I prioritize what must be done that day and then let the rest go if I'm overwhelmed. I get up early and have some quiet time everyday which does my soul good and I now concentrate most times in doing one task at a time. I find I'm much calmer and I think more clearly this way.

  10. Gah! These are all so me, ha ha ha! Must Try Harder ;) Thank you for the tips!