The Motivated Millennial: The Art of Focusing

August 14 - Natalie Merola

With the beautiful weather outside, music festivals, and destination vacations beckoning, how does a gal stay focused? To stay motivated, I have some rituals for taking care of distractions. Do you need a rigid dose of discipline or a super laid-back approach? The answers sits comfortably in between, but it is only mastered with constant self-auditing and learning how to adapt on the fly.

Whether you work at home, a third space, or an office, distractions are a given. Even in a familiar setting like home, there are certain interruptions you can predict and others you need to be aware of. In an office, you have co-workers or superiors who might need your attention. How do you stay awake during meetings? How do you get everything done on a deadline? If you’re not on a daily routine or flexible schedule ticking the boxes off that checklist, how do you keep yourself accountable to get things done? Focus requires different things for each individual.

For me, I know I have to hit the priorities and create a plan for swerving those distracting habits and known shiny things in the distance. (You know the usual culprits at work, home, or your favorite coffee shop. Oh, Netflix! Is that the UPS with my order? Do I need makeup remover? OMG, did you see the latest celebrity gossip? Don’t slip! It’s easy, but you’re better than that, babe!) To conquer the distractions, I’ve put together a list of things that keep me in check.

Attention is the name of the game. In my experience, these are some things that work for me.

Here are some things you can try to help stay focused:

  1. Invest in a noise-cancelling pair of headphones or sit somewhere in silence. Maybe you get lost in Google search rabbit holes or end up shopping to your heart’s content on Amazon after looking for notepads. Ok, we get it, but snap out of it! Putting together a playlist to listen to while working is super helpful for me. When you’re zoned into your favorite playlist, allow yourself to get lost in the music and hone in on your project. If you can’t do songs with words, try a meditation playlist. Or if you need someone inspiring you, listen to your favorite podcast. We can suggest a few. :) When you’re on your own in a quiet study room or library, it allows your mind to get centered.
  2. Have an accountability buddy or notebook. Journaling your accomplished tasks gives you a visual to reflect on and give a sense of completion. Remind yourself that you didn’t just work all day. You got more done than you think! If you’re lucky enough to have someone equally as motivating as you, you can team up and work together to crush those goals. Sometimes meeting up with these life cheerleaders is a great idea. If you can balance conversation and productivity, hats off to you both. I enjoy meeting up with my co-workers at the office, instead of sometimes working remotely. It breaks it up and keeps my mind sharp. Brainstorming in person allows you to feed off of the energy and inspire each other to do better. It’s a win-win, and there can be creative sparks that wouldn’t necessarily happen over the phone or online.
  3. Know what distracts you and gift yourself the higher ground. I know sweet treats, new season releases, and chatty family or friends can distract me. After all, I want to have my own show someday. I love hearing others stories, discussing the latest trends, and getting happily lost in conversation. People are fascinating, but I could go on and on. See how easy it is to wander off? I have to hole up in my apartment nook with my water jug filled, healthy snacks nearby, and out of range from family. Of course, ensure everyone is taking care of each other beforehand, but when it is work time, I’m taking each step to complete tasks efficiently and gracefully.

It’s tough to be honest with yourself, but when the job needs to get done, you have to stick to what works best for you. Keeping the sugar, noisy people, and shows at bay, I am humming away at the computer with my playlist, notes, and checklist. If you could get more done, think of what else you can accomplish in that extra period of time. Stay hungry and focused out there!

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