Seven ways to focus and get yourself to the finish line

“Much of stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

— David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done”

There are many opportunities to set goals for ourselves throughout the year. A common time is right before the start of a New Year, most commonly with New Year’s Resolutions.

The beginning of each new quarter of the business year is also a good time. Many people start each month with specific goals for the current month. And then there are the projects and ideas that pop up throughout the year that create new goals. With all of those goals, how do you see them through to the finish line? Goals are great to have, but if we don’t meet them, then they really aren’t that valuable. If you want to see your goals to fruition, then you have to back them with both action and focus.

Follow these tactics to help you reach your daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals.

Know where you’re going. To get where you intend to go, you need to know where your starting and ending points are. Picture running in a 5k race. Before the run you can study the course map, you can see the starting point and the finish line. You know ahead of time exactly where you’re going and you can feel confident that the finish line isn’t going to keep moving.

You too can map out your starting point along with the steps you need to take to get to the finish line. If you realize you want to go further than you originally thought with a goal, then you can always create a new goal after you reach the first milestone.

Create quiet time to work. If you want to be serious about working on your goals, you have to treat them seriously with dedicated, quiet time to work on them. Ideally, you have a door that you can close and the people around you know what a closed door means: do not disturb.

Post your schedule on your door with the times that you are available for questions to reduce people’s impulse to interrupt you. If you don’t have the luxury of a door, get creative with the space you do have so you can communicate when you are and are not available.

If you work from home and keep getting interruptions, consider working early in the morning before your family is up or take some time during the day to leave and work at the library or at a local coworking space.

Allow yourself enough time to work on your goals. Be kind to yourself and really consider how long each step of your goal is going to take. It’s easy to underestimate how long goals and projects will take, which can leave us frustrated when we don’t meet our deadlines. Be sure to give yourself some extra time for the unexpected.

Evaluate where you’re wasting time. If you find you’re regularly not meeting deadlines and you’re postponing goal completion celebrations, then you may have to take a close look at whether or not you’re wasting time. Wasted time is valuable time that can make or break getting to the finish line.

Are you getting sucked into common time wasters like constantly checking your phone, checking social media or processing email? These are all activities that most likely do need attention each day, but not during the focused time you’ve carved out to work on your goal achieving activities.

Set a timer. Setting a timer can be a magical way to jump start your motivation to work on your goals. I know it works for me every time I’m tempted to procrastinate. It also creates a specific time frame with an end point to work on your goals. This way it won’t feel like you have to work all day on your project, you just have to keep going for the amount of time you set the timer for. Stop the distractions, set the timer and get into the zone for a productive work session.

Organize your office. As a professional organizer, I can vouch that a messy office is usually not a productive office. I know a lot of people think that creative folks thrive in a messy space, so my advice to you is this: if you are meeting deadlines, can find what you need in 30 seconds or less, feel no stress in your space and can easily focus, then don’t fix it if it’s not broken. For the rest of us, an organized desk is crucial for working productively without distractions.

Fuel yourself. Just like when you’re running a 5k, you’re going to need to fuel your body properly to reach the finish line. Make sure you have healthy meals, snacks and proper hydration to keep you going. We cannot live on coffee alone, even in Seattle.

Chances are good that your goals are connected to things that you are good at and they will bring you a sense of joy and accomplishment when you reach them. So get focused and reach that finish line.

As author Robin Sharma says, “Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”

Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer and productivity consultant who owns Efficient Organization NW in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or monika@efficientorganizationnw.com.

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