Ways To Stay Focused When You Would Rather Be On Vacation

You look to your left and see the cloudless cerulean sky and your mind starts to drift. You check your watch for the twelfth time since lunch and it is moving like it has been hand-dipped in molasses.

The burning desire to be out of the office and into the welcoming warmth of summer begins to bubble up and distract you from your tasks. You cannot help wanting to enjoy the sunny season, but you can take steps to stay focused while your mind wanders to plans of vacation. Many small businesses and fresh entrepreneurs have their busiest times during the summer and it is imperative to stay attentive to your tasks.

Here are some helpful tips on how to keep yourself engaged when you least desire it.

Learn Your Productivity Time Zones

True, uninhibited focus is a rare occurrence that may not always be peaking at the office. Are you aware of when you are most productive? Is it morning, midday or night? These “Productivity Zones” are when you should be doing your most difficult and creative thinking. The emails can wait until after a morning coffee break, which of course you have used as a reward for being so productive the hour before. Once you recognize your own habits you can start to develop the all- important routine.


Not all routines are productive, i.e. opening your browser and immediately checking Facebook. That is why it is important to develop a routine based around your own abilities for continued focus. Maximize the times in the day of few distractions to accomplish the difficult tasks. Build in natural rewards, like putting the boring, rote tasks to be accomplished before lunch. Building a strong routine can help you engineer some rewards into your day and keep you fully focused. That being said – be realistic – you cannot be “on” one hundred percent of the day.

Gimme a Break

Can you lift a gallon of milk over your head? Could you hold it there for three hours? No. Didn’t think so. Just as you would need to give your shoulder muscle a break it is important to give your mental muscle some time to relax as well. Recent studies show a link between a small mental break and increased cognitive output. If you can get over the guilty feeling of “wasting” company time you will start spending it more wisely with a walk around the block or a social coffee break. Build breaks into your routines where they are most needed. Avoid working for more than ninety minutes at a time.

Time Spent Is Not Equal to Time Worked

Time can be a tricky metric of valuable productivity. We have all done more in an hour than other projects where we have done half the task in twice the time. When your mind starts to wander and you lose your focus, remember to stay focused on specific tasks, not about putting a certain amount of hours in. To help with this, create To-Do Lists.

To-Do or Not To-Do

To-Do lists are probably the most significant and effective tool for staying focused in the waning hours of work on summer Fridays. However, often times to-do list advocates get preachy about how great their system is and how you should adopt it. But that is just it – it is THEIR system. You need to develop your own. If you are a hyper-organized techno geek, there is a multitude of apps (Evernote is one of our personal favorites) to help you prioritize and create alarmed reminders to keep you organized and on task.

Still, I am reminded of the mythologized story of the US spending millions on a pen that would write in space while the Russians just used a pencil. Don’t over think it, a post-it and a pen is a great place to start your productivity.

What helps you stay focused? Let us know in the comments below.

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