According to Marriam-Webster's Dictionary hocus-pocus is defined as: 1.) Sleight of hand or 2.) Nonsense or sham used especially to cloak deception. I coined the phrase "Hocus -pocus focus" to describe the magical way my focus would appear and reappear. The words so easily fit into our lives when we can't seem to stop scrolling social media feeds, pinning away endlessly on Pinterest or my personal temptation, getting lost in a Netflix original series.
There is nothing wrong with a brain fart here or there and I am not in the business of ever cancelling a necessary life pause. Trust me! I believe in life pauses more than I believe in the power of a warm bowl of rice pudding (and if you know me, you know that there is nothing I don't believe rice pudding can't fix). Nonetheless, just as life happens, so does hocus-pocus focus. In fact, it can be harder to stay productive when you work your own hours, so it's imperative for you to set boundaries that allow you to do your best work.
That sounded simple enough right! The statements in bold are always so easy to relate to when reading, but our actions have this relentless gift of doing the exact opposite. I mean honestly, there is something beautifully significant about working from home and being able to hit a mad scientist laugh at the clean floor where there was once a pile of dirty laundry right?
This just might be one of those mixed brews of blessings. According to the National Workplace Flexibility Study, 98% of managers who implement a flexible work schedule see no negative drawbacks. In fact, they see results like better communication, interaction and productivity. So, it's not that simple- managing a flexible schedule requires balance of managerial trust and personal accountability.
What I had to work on was defining what the latter looked like for me? How can I manage to get things done with the boundaries that we've become so accustomed to before we had this kind of freedom?
As is turns out, it's not only possible, it's magically practical and I've got a few tips that I hope will help you!
1. Change The Definition!
As a creative director, brand strategist and wanna-be rapper (I consider myself a wordsmith of sorts.) More times than ideally necessary I come up with funky words, songs, and sounds that help me to remember things that seem mundane to my memory bank. Hocus-pocus focus meant something to me. I remember looking up what the word "Hocus-Pocus" meant when I came up with the phrase.
What I left out within the grasp of the definition was that hocus-pocus was a word often used by magicians to cement a magical moment into the minds of the spectator. I thought, why not re-frame how I feel about the word to stimulate a different connection with what I want to take place.
It sounds a bit silly, but we all know that perspective changes things!
Taking the very things that show up as obstacles and distractions for you can be used as tools to help you.
2. Maintain A Routine
As a creative, I hated the word routine because I associated it with patterns of constant repetition and that screamed boring, blehh, and ewww all at once. The truth I had to learn (and trust me it didn't come overnight) was routines are my friend. Daily routines allow us to find the patterns of behavior that allow us to reach our goals. We need that foundation to get work done. Don't be afraid to create your own routines!
Hold yourself accountable so that you can ensure you get your tasks done without a schedule dictated by an employer.
3. Add Yourself To Your Calendar
This one is for people like me who have this innate capacity for putting other people's tasks ahead of their own. It's great to pour your efforts into others, but you won't have a thing to pour into yourself if you're holding onto an empty cup. If you are working on tasks that relate to a personal project, add yourself to your calendar the same way you would include a client, customer, or prospect. You can even have some fun with it and use that alter-ego name you've been secretly channeling when you are singing in the shower (Okay maybe I'm the only one who does this).
Make yourself a priority and you will witness as they come to fruition, all of the goals you've written down and written off.
4. Treat Your Day Like A "Real" Work Day
I know I've said this already, but let me say it again, working from home guarantees distractions and autonomy. Yes, it may feel like pure bliss as you sip that glass of wine in the early evening or applaud your finally getting all the lyrics and dance moves right to Beyonce's Lemonade album, but you will be deeply wounded when you realize that years have gone by and that domain you've been paying for hasn't been put to use. Trust me, I am speaking from personal experience.
Why hurt your feelings, abandon your skills and leave the world waiting for your gifts?
Treat your day like a real work day. Clock in at a certain time, turn off those notifications that you know you wouldn't address if your boss was looking over your shoulder.
Use your calendar as your to-do list and don't take your day for granted.
5. Don't Be Afraid Of The Stop Sign
I don't know what it is about us goal-getters that makes us believe that taking a life pause means the end of our purpose. We fight tooth and nail to keep pushing ourselves over the brink. As a personal victim of my saying yes to loads of perpetuated mess, I am here to challenge you to pump the breaks.
When you are working on building something of purpose you want, you need and deserve moments where you break away.
Grab a hard stop mentality! Just like brushing your teeth sends an internal message that the day is either beginning or ending, you need something to let you know that the workday is over. I know it can be tempting to get bogged down with email replies, or to pick back up on that game of phone-tag you were having with that potential client, but simply put...STOP. Set the alarm, slowly shut down the laptop, and wrap it up. Your day will flow better, you will function as a purposed champion better and your brain and body will thank you!
Psssss. Before you head on out, I am working on something that has always helped me stay focused. It is one of those things I love and have become a bit of a snob about as I've journeyed on into entrepreneurville. It is a planner. Yes! I am creating an amazing and fun planner and I'd love to get your input in the comments about what you feel is missing in the planners that you've used in the past!
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you take these tips into consideration when you are dealing with issues related to focusing on the tasks and projects you are working on.