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Your holiday is over and you’ve got to go back to work. You resist, don’t want to.  If  your work place is your home office, you wonder if anyone would notice if you didn’t do much for a day or so?

Of course, you could try to catch up once you feel a little more inspired. That’s exactly how I often feel after a holiday. You are so relaxed and chilled out and want the feeling to go on forever.

Even when  you have an important deadline coming up and a high workload to go with it, you figure that your work will make you the opposite of relaxed and chilled out. And perhaps you don’t really want to go there.

That happened to me too once. And then, two days later, not only had I tackled a long to-do list, including a whole long list of emails and a great number of calls, I had caught up with my social networking sites and made some important decisions in between.

After resisting on day 1, I ended up at my desk for 12 hours (not non-stop I hasten to add), enjoying my work against all the odds! I was totally focused too, got so much done and each accomplished task felt really good.

Here are a few tips you may wish to try if you feel reluctant about starting your work.

  • Make sure you write a task or to do list, and prioritise the items on it. It’s no good having jobs, projects or tasks in your head, where they can often cause more anxiety than necessary.
  • Use the timer trick to get you started. Plan to do 5 or 10 minutes on a particular task and before long, you’ll notice you don’t mind carrying on.
  • If you don’t want to use a timer, having a visible clock in your office may be OK. The best ones are the ones with an audible tick- they remind you that time doesn’t stand still.
  • After working for a couple of hours, make sure you have a break. Have a hot drink, stretch your legs, open a window, read a paper. 10-15 minutes should be fine.
  • Getting back into work mode after a break can be hard, so I do something that I enjoy – reading and updating one of my social media sites for 10-15 minutes (keeping an eye on the clock). This also makes me feel connected to the outside world. If you don’t do social networking, then why not make a call to a colleague instead?  Always keep an eye on the clock though.
  • Never ever be tempted to multitask thinking you’ll be quicker! Don’t have social media sites open in the background in order to go back to them from time to time. Single tasking is key to higher productivity – cutting out interruptions gives you higher levels of concentration. Task switching can not only be hard on the brain but will lose you time as your brain takes time to adapt to the different tasks.
  • Getting a difficult job out of the way first, will feel liberating and your work will flow much easier afterwards. Again you can use the timer method to get into the task.
  • At the end of the day, update your prioritised list for the following day, as it will help you to switch off!

What else has worked for you that you could share with our readers?

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business & blogging coach. She helps busy passionate solopreneurs build a thriving small venture by being more visible and focused on what matters to them. Sign up for her free ‘Passion to Profit’ ebook at http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

(PS the above post was first published in 2010)

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The following blog post was republished on 14 November 2013 by Huffington Post – with my permission- on their Small Business Blog pages.

Most micro business owners experience periods where there is so much to do that it can be really difficult to stay in control of your time and get everything done – fileslike the first time you take on a major contract! Suddenly you find yourself juggling all your smaller clients, perhaps struggling to look after them as well as you used to. At times the pressure to keep up with the different demands on your time can be relentless!

A workload that stays consistently high may be the first sign that you can’t avoid outsourcing any longer, especially if you don’t want to risk losing any customers! But if you know your high workload is only short-term, why not try the following tips to help you stay focused and get everything done?

  1. Work with your natural biorhythm. Whether you are a morning or evening person, do your important work tasks when you know you’re feeling alert.
  2. Always do the most important thing first; this can take the pressure off you later, and also help with concentration.
  3. Stop reacting to everything that happens. Responding appropriately may not mean having to jump straight into action just because something has landed on your desk or in your inbox, or because you ‘should’ be carrying out certain tasks at specific times.
  4. When concentrating intensely during important tasks, it pays to have a break after about 90 minutes. This allows your brain to have a rest, as you continue with some less intense tasks. These may include answering e-mail or returning calls. Having a hot drink at this point may then also help you return to more intense ‘focus time’.
  5. During your ‘focus time’, avoid distraction from browser windows that don’t need to be open. Turn email reminders off, in fact why not close your inbox and even put your mobile on silent. Reducing other external noise (if possible) can help too, since your brain may thank you for not having to deal with interruptions, and you don’t lose the adjustment time your brain needs to help you switch between tasks.
  6. Set a timer for social networking tasks, or for reading articles (whether this is part of your work or not). Decide on a length of time before you start- just 15 minutes of totally focused time can be very effective.
  7. If you are stressed by having too much to do, it helps to write everything down. Particularly at night, when people often lie awake, feeling overwhelmed and anxious, taking notes of your concerns or writing a list can relieve your brain of some of the ‘weight’ and allow you to get the sleep that you need.

So, by using the old adage of ‘more haste less speed’ you will actually be improving your effectiveness, end overwhelm and find your overall work performance increasing.

What helps you to stay focused? Please share your tips with other readers below!

Ute2010About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King provides business support for passionate fempreneurs who want to take their micro-business from good to great. Get Ute’s daily business tips on Facebook or sign up on the Success Network website to receive two free ebooks to help you grow your business and make it more profitable. http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

Copyright, 2009-2013 Ute Wieczorek-KIng

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