Focus Where It Counts
What to do with all the time at home
For the past few weeks, I’ve woken up each morning with a list of things to do running through my head. Clean out closets, sort through files in my office, trim the bushes, clean out the garage, etc.
Of course, this is on top of my usual day-to-day “normal” duties, which have truly expanded with my whole family home, all day, every day.
My initial thought, like many of you, when we were first ordered to stay at home was, “finally I’ll get to complete some tasks around the house that I’ve been wanting to, especially with the boys home to help!”
So, how many projects have I completed? Truth is, not very many!
I’m having a very difficult time consistently staying focused and on task.
Certainly, I’m beyond thankful to have my teens/young adults at home and more importantly, we are all healthy. But I’ll be honest, having my kids home all day, every day is messing with my mojo!
Some of you may have realized (or maybe not 😉), I didn’t send out a newsletter last week. I’ve been having a hard time focusing long enough to write! And, when I do finally sit at my desk and start to work on the newsletter, I find I’m easily distracted, either by my kids, dogs, or my own lack of attention.
I know this will pass. So, I’m not overly concerned. But for those of you who may be thrown for a loop at your own lack of focus, I’m here to tell you, It’s OK!
For many, this is the first time you’re working from home.
Sure, you’ve helped your kids throughout the years with schoolwork, but have you had them schooled at home, all day, every day?
Many changes have occurred to disrupt our “normal” way of life and while I applaud those who have created goals and achieved them, I want others to know, you’re not alone. Inability to focus, especially for long periods of time, is to be expected.
To offer some levity, I’d like to share what a typical day in my house looks like right now and how easily I’ve been distracted.
After making sure everyone is out of bed, fed and on track to start their schoolwork I head to my office at home and sit at my desk to check emails, pay bills, update spreadsheets, or write. Pre- virus, I can get the job done in a few hours, today… as I go through emails…
Wow, Sur La Table has a really good sale. I’ve been wanting to get the oval breadbasket; I wonder if that’s on sale?
I spend about 30 minutes googling proofing baskets just to make sure the one at Sur La Table is the best and at a reasonable price. Conclusion, I don’t remember, I got sidetracked at a picture of a tortilla press and now I really want one of those!
Stay focused, do some paperwork.
“Mom! What’s for dinner?” This could be any one of my kids asking this question. Clearly, having an inability to focus is contagious.
Seriously?! We haven’t even had lunch yet and I’m being asked what’s for dinner. I shout back, “don’t worry about dinner, focus on your schoolwork.”
A few minutes later…
Hmm, what I should make for dinner? Another 30 minutes is spent searching recipes online, which takes me to Instagram and Pinterest. Wow! There are so many recipes! Unfortunately, I’m lacking one or more ingredients for each recipe I like.
C’mon, focus on the bills that need to be paid. As I scroll through my email to see which bills I need to pay, I realize that the deadline to register George for the next school year is that day. Crap! Other bills get pushed aside, for now, while I go through the registration process.
Meanwhile, one of the boys comes in my office and says, “mom, I’m done with this assignment, can you proofread it before I submit it?”
“Sure, leave it on my desk and I’ll proof it in a little bit.” I respond without even looking up from my computer.
“No, I need it now, it’s due this afternoon.”
Ugh… another 30 minutes, spent proofing and reviewing the changes.
Ok, I resign. I’ll go take a bath with some Epsom salt and hopefully that will clear my head and then I’ll tackle my work again.
Just as I sink into the water, I hear one of my sons calling from my bedroom door, “Mom, are you making lunch today or are we on our own?”
“Can you give me a few minutes please, it’s only 11:00,” I shout back.
“Well, I’m just wondering because if we’re making it ourselves, I just want to know what there is to make.”
“Yes! You’re on your own for lunch, please look in the fridge!”
As I’m taking in the aroma of eucalyptus I’m struck with terror. I better get out of the tub because I just remembered there was only a few slices of pastrami left and if one kid eats it all without letting the other two know, all hell will break loose.
Ok, after some negotiating, and me promising the one kid who got shortchanged on the pastrami, to get him something special the net time I go to the store, everyone is happy. Now, back to work.
My dog Star comes in my office looking for some attention. As I pet her, I can’t help but think, she’s looking a little disheveled. She sure could use some grooming.
Since the groomer is closed, I do the next best thing and spend another 30 minutes looking online for a grinder to trim her nails. After reading all the reviews, I choose one, order it online for pick up that day.
Boy, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment all at once. I saw a problem, Star needs her nails trimmed and I found a solution, I bought a nail grinder online. I’m pretty proud of myself and feel like I can finally finish some paperwork.
After some concentrated time spent (about 30 minutes) on paperwork, I figure I better check my emails, again. Oh look, the nail grinder is ready for pick up! No time like the present to get it, I mean, what else am I doing? (Note: as I write this, the nail grinder is still its box!)
At this point I know I’m done for the day trying to get any work done. I turn my attention to, you guessed it, making dinner!
Oh, what am I going to cook?!
How to stay focused
I’ve worked from home for many years and I know what it takes to be focused and stay on task.
Here is a list of some of the tools I follow while working from home:
- Follow a routine
- Create a to-do-list
- Tackle priority items first
- Set dedicated times to review emails and phone messages
- Remove distractions (close office door, turn off TV, etc.)
- Set and communicate boundaries
- Close apps when not using, and turn off notifications on phone
- Allow for breaks and set a time to end working
The tools I’ve relaxed the most is removing distractions and setting boundaries with respect to my kids. Right now, my kids are my biggest distraction with overseeing their schooling, making more meals at home and being available to talk, play a game or watch a reality show with.
Yet, with the current environment we’re living under, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Providing a safe haven for my family is my top priority. Letting my kids know that they are loved and I’m here to help them is not losing focus, it’s shifting the focus.
To all you parents/grandparents out there wondering where the time has gone each day, remind yourselves, its right where it needs to be: on your family.