How to Stay Focused and Productive on a Project

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How to Stay Focused and Productive on a ProjectDo you find it difficult to stay focused on your projects at work or at home?

Are you looking for some positive encouragement and some practical solutions?

Staying focused while working on a project or assignment can be quite a challenge.

It’s one thing to work on a project for weeks on end, but it’s an entirely another thing to consistently keep a healthy dose of focus and attention going in the interim.

In this post, I offer a few ways to help you keep your mind on track as you work on a project, assignment, or task.

Whether you’re at the halfway point, have a handful of work sessions left, or are a little less than a third of the way through your work, these pointers will help you block out distractions and overcome personal tendencies.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Do you ever get a tiny bit curious and wonder just how your productivity stacks up against the productivity levels of other people?

Are you working more productively than Joseph in marketing on those reports?

Are you trailing behind your friend Emma when it comes to crossing off items from your to-do list?

While curiosity is commendable in other subjects and situations, you’d do well to put an end to this way of thinking. There’s absolutely no way for you to know what’s going on in the lives of others. We all have different skills, talents, challenges, and situations to deal with on any given day.

The best advice is to avoid comparing your productivity levels to other people. Focus instead on the project at hand and what you need to get done. Take note as to how your own skills and capabilities have improved over the past few days, weeks, and months. This latter method is a much more fruitful way to keep your attention on what matters.

Identify and neutralize troublesome tasks.

Do you want to easily solve several of your productivity woes and headaches? Who doesn’t! One way to do this is to figure out exactly what sets you on edge and find an appropriate solution.

What it is about your project that either annoys, bothers, disgusts, frustrates, give you the most trouble, or takes up an enormous amount of your time? Where do you procrastinate, delay, or perform less than satisfactory work?

Are you putting off vacuuming and dusting your house in order to get it ready for upcoming house guests? Have an ongoing personal feud with the office photocopier that makes it difficult to print out those glossy presentation kits?

Once you identify what’s sucking away your energy, attention, and focus, you can neutralize the situation by either delegating the work or learning a new skill. For example, you might hire a local college student to clean your home or ask a coworker to show you how to properly use that troublesome piece of office equipment.

Create a positive and fulfilling work environment.

While a well-organized desk or workstation is a nice thing to have, a work space infused with meaning, encouragement or motivation is even better. We’ve all gone through our fair share of days where we wish we could press a magical “reset” button to start the day afresh, or crawl back into bed and throw the bedspread over our head. All the more reason to have a reason (or two) to keep you focused when those difficult days pop up.

How can you transform your current workstation, office, or cubicle, to motivate you and keep you on track with your project? Try incorporating small, personal, and meaningful touches to your immediate work area. This could be anything from a list of inspirational quotes, to a favorite coffee mug, to a giant wall calendar with your project’s deadline circled in red marker. Choose those items or materials that fill you with both excitement and encouragement.

So, what are you waiting for? Your source of inspiration is just waiting to be discovered and incorporated into your daily routine…

How about you? Where does your attention wane when working on a project? What methods or steps do you take to keep on going until the project is complete? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2014.

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 3 Smart Steps to Organizing Your Home, by clicking here.