My notebook is one tool I use to help me stay focused.

First of all, let me rid you of all delusions. I am easily distracted. I have had to learn to be intentional in my work. I have had to develop strategies over the years to help me stay focused.

  1. I talk to myself. When I start to get off track, I call myself back on track, I tell myself to focus. While I stay focused on my present task I know what comes next. If I lose track of where I am I refer to my daily plan or list. (My Aunt Mary who talked to herself all the time said that she couldn’t think of a nicer person to chat with—giggle!)
  2. I am intentional. I use my calendar, household notebook, timer, routines, and lists to help me stay on track.
  • Make a Master To Do List.
    • Sit down and make a list of anything and everything you need to do or THINK you need to do. The first list is a draft. Review it and group tasks by type—phone calls, cards, emails, household tasks, or errands. Also grade the tasks by A-B-C-D. Numbering is too time consuming as there is only one number one. You can and will have more than one A, B, C, or D.
      • A must be done today.
      • B must be done within the next couple of days or this week.
      • C must be done as you can
      • D is optional. If you want to do these tasks, keep them on the list. If you do not, let it go.
      • If by some miracle you get all your A’s done, start on the B’s. When you get to the C’s or D’s, you are really sailing, girl.
      • When you are working on a task and notice something else you need to do (unless it requires only seconds) put it on your list. Grade it and date it.
    • Use a calendar. Put future tasks that are tied to a date on your calendar. These tasks might include scheduling your car inspections, car maintenance, preparing and filing your taxes, or sending greeting cards. When the date draws near, add it to your To Do List
    • Use a timer. It will help you stay focused. Many times you will be amazed at what you can do in 10-15 minutes. Studies have shown that most of us can focus for 20-30 minutes at a time. After that amount of time you become less focused and less productive. Move to a different task and then come back.
    • My household notebook has lists of tasks for cleaning each rooms as well as emergency numbers, telephone lists, dates to remember, and household routines. If someone had to step into my shoes, that notebook has the information to help them function. You can also keep your cycle menus and other important home information in the notebook. The notebook is either in my office or kitchen for easy access.
    • Have routines for each part of your day.
      • Begin your day the night before by laying out clothes for the morning, setting the table for breakfast, putting anything you need to take with you near the front door, and putting the house in order before bed.
      • In the morning: make the bed, get dressed, have a Quiet Time before everyone else is up, and focus on getting everyone out the door as pleasantly as possible. After that I usually did my tasks for the day and declutter on the days that I stayed home. When I have had something to do outside our home I made it my goal to leave my home in order so I could come home to a clean and orderly home.
      • In the afternoon I always tried to welcome my children home from school when they were in conventional schooling. When we homeschooled we had a routine that included having the house in order before Dad aka my sweetie came home. Your family should feel at least as welcome as the guests that visit your home.
      • If you work outside your home, make your dinner decision before bed the night before. If you are at home make your meal decision no later than 10 a.m. This gives you time to put together a balanced meal. I like to use a cycle menu but sometimes life requires tweaks.
  1. Write a mission statement for the day either in the morning or the night before.
  • For today, Friday—I will take my car to the carwash to thoroughly vacuum it out. I will vacuum my traffic areas. I will work in my craft room (this is a major project so it take several weeks –I hope that estimate is high). I plan to fix a pork roast with sweet potato fries, applesauce and green peas. Roy plans to take his boat out of the water at the marina and to Nautical Marine for repair. (A sturgeon jumped out of the water and damaged the front panel on our pontoon so it needs to be repaired.) I will take time to renew my To Do List. One of my daughters and her family are coming for Thanksgiving so my goal is to redo the bathrooms and paint the interior of the house before Thanksgiving as well as having our home clean and orderly (organized).
  1. When life happens, make adjustments but avoid excuses. I want to hold myself accountable but I also want to allow myself the flexibility to respond. This includes building in time buffers so that I can honor the time of people I have to meet or care for. I will not race down the road, endangering the people with me in the car and everyone else on the highway. If I was routinely arriving 15 minutes late for activities, I knew I had to allow at least 15 to 20 minutes more to my timeline for getting ready. Yes, it is less convenient for me, but, you know what—that’s alright! If I arrive a couple of minutes early, I may actually have time to breathe or get to know someone else who has gotten there on time. I am the big sister in a family of seven children, and mom of four. I do know what I am talking about. I haven’t always gotten it right but I have tried to learn from my mistakes.

Again, the key to focus is being intentional. Know what you are doing. Know why you want to do it. Have goals. Plan your work and work your plan.




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