How do you focus on what you have to do when you want to be doing something else?
I struggle with this all the time. I know the things I need to do to keep my business running; bookkeeping, mileage logging, marketing, website maintenance, SEO, on and on.
The same goes for my home, I know the things I need to do to keep my household running smoothly; cleaning, cooking, laundry, packing lunches, grocery shopping, taking care of my daughter…
I want to write books and publish articles on my blog. I want to create journals and planners. I want to design new products. I want to create digital art. I want to learn and listen to webinars. I want to read a book.
I often feel guilty when I’m not doing my “duties,” and as a mother and wife there are a lot, but I know that I need to take time for myself as well. One of the things I do for myself is writing. Whether it’s an article for my blog or just taking time to journal, it’s something that energizes me and refuels my tank. So…
How do we get the things done on our have-to-do list and so we can get to our want-to-do list?
When we’re working on our passion projects we have energy and self-motivation but what about when we’re doing the tedious, mundane, daily tasks that it takes to survive?
How do we energize ourselves to push through?
1. Look at the big picture
When you can see the big picture and look beyond the day-to-day tasks, you are no longer stuck in the drudgery of the mundane. You have a vision and purpose. You can finish what you have to do and then move on to the projects that will get you closer to your goals and dreams. Creating a vision board or having monthly mile markers in your journey can help you keep you focused on what you want to accomplish.
When I focus too much on what I have to get done, I get sidetracked from the tasks that will ultimately get me to where I want to be. If I stay focused on web design or SEO for too long, then I don’t have any new products. When I don’t have fresh and trending products, my business suffers. If I don’t look towards the future I’ll be stuck in the same place I am now.
2. Make a killer list
When you have all your tasks written down, you can easily see everything that you need to accomplish. You can then sort things by priority and necessity. Yes, sometimes there are things on your list that aren’t necessary.
Sometimes we can delegate tasks to others. Like letting our husbands do the laundry (even though they never fold the towels right) so we can spend time on our passion projects, or handing off a project at work to spend more time on the big picture tasks.
Sometimes we don’t need to do things on our list at all. Evaluate your tasks and scratch off the ones that don’t bring any value to your life.
For example reorganizing your pantry for the 5th time might not be necessary. Cleaning the grout in your bathroom tiles can probably wait. Checking your social media needs to be limited, so it doesn’t take time away from your imporant projects.
I read something recently about to-do lists that really resonated with me. It said to make three lists; have-to-do, want-to-do, and things that would make you happy-to-do. Then every day do something from each list. Do something you have to do, something you want to do and one thing that would make you happy to do.
Doing only the stuff, you have to-do can be depressing. You need to do some of the things you want to do to keep your spirits up.
3. Set up a reward system
Rewards can be a great motivator to get you through hard tasks. Like when you promise yourself a vacation after a long tiring stretch at work, or when you get yourself a little something when you reach a personal goal.
Personally, my favorite way to set up a reward system is to choose an item or reward that coincides with your goal. Give yourself something that will fuel your project and help you to build on it.
It could be new clothes when you lose the extra weight or a fresh notebook when you finish a blog series. Make it something to help you reach your ultimate goal. Fuel your passion with rewards that will spur you on to success.
You can also use your passion project as a reward itself. Make yourself a promise that once you finish your absolutely-necessary-list, you will give yourself time to be creative and focus on where your passion is.
4. Put aside good for great
After you know the big picture you’re trying to create you have to put aside somethings to make time for the great things that will get you your ultimate dreams. You may have to take some time off from your day job to work on your side hustle.
You will have to make hard decisions in order to give yourself and your family a great life. You may have to choose between going to the gym, which is good and taking night classes to earn your degree. You may have to give up a nice relaxing Saturday with your family to put the finishing touches on a product your about to launch.
If you’re familiar with the 80/20 rule you know that 80% of your results come from 20% of your work. Take a few minutes to identify what those items are that get you the most return and focus on them, letting your passion fuel you.
When you cut back to just the lean tasks that are absolutely necessary you free up your time to do other things and find more of your 20% tasks. Our businesses and lives are always changing. The activity that brought you the biggest result last year might not be the most productive this year. Continually evaluating where you’re at will only help you to be the best version of yourself.
5. Let your passions fuel you
Once when I was struggling with where to focus my mother told me, “Focus on what you are excited about right now.” I was having trouble focusing on my work because my mind kept traveling to the project I really wanted to be working on. My productivity hit an all-time low. I was having problems finishing anything. I couldn’t focus, my thoughts were continually going back to my writer’s training I was working on.
So I scheduled some time to put towards my project, and I put off some other tasks until a later date. When I was finished with that passion project, I was so energized! I was able to return to my regular work with a renewed sense of accomplishment and drive.
Use that exhilarated feeling to fuel your next project. Build off your passions and use the momentum to push you farther than you ever thought you could go. When you have your creative juices flowing you can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.
I want to know what your passion projects are. Comment below.