5 Tips To Focus For Frazzled Families (Episode 160)
The school year is looming and, more than anything else, what I'm seeing are some seriously frazzled families! My heart goes out to the teachers trying to navigate their own homes, their classrooms, and now an online version as well. So how can you find any focus for frazzled families?
As we move forward with whatever this school year looks like in your home, let's address 5 tips to focus...for frazzled families, and for those who want to keep from being that way!
how in the world can you stay focused when life is constantly throwing curve balls?
When There Is no "Normal"
The constant grumblings on social media and in real life are a quick reflection on the frazzled feelings families are experiencing as they are trying to "go back to normal" in an environment that is anything but.
It may be that you're back into work or school, but it's far from normal, as you all are working remotely from home. Taking a family that is used to being on the go, flitting from one event to the next, and now stationing everyone at home to stay on task can be extremely difficult.
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Not only has "normal" become an unknown, but it's a constantly fluctuating one, as many places are using the red light-green light approach. What is working for this week may shift for the next. So how in the world can you stay focused when life is constantly throwing curve balls?
When Distractions Abound
This is becoming an increasing issue in today’s world of high-speed technology and massive change, not to mention a world-wide pandemic, an election year, protests and dissent everywhere we look.
Distractions are everywhere. Social media, phone calls, texts, television, chat tools, notifications, alarms, and in-boxes are highly active. It may be that now everyone is at home and you're just waiting for that phone to light up to break up the monotony of the same location.
Or now that you're at home so much, the house "to-do" list has grown to epic proportions and you find yourself hopping from one thing to another in distracted overwhelm.
When your flow is interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track. And when you consider also that the average person is distracted every 40 seconds, the impact is alarming.
Different personality styles react to distractions in different ways. For some, it may completely throw them off course, while for others, distractions are a way of life, as they thrive in shiny-object-syndrome mode and love to shift gears...even if they are lacking on follow through.
What personality style are you? How can knowing this really help you to find your focus? Well, the truth is, it can help a ton. Not just for you, but for your kids as well.
5 Tips To Focus For Frazzled Families
I love acronyms as an easy way to remember things. And for frazzled families lacking focus, there is no better acronym than that- FOCUS! So here you go - 5 quick tips to get your sanity back in your home, even as "normal" is changing every day.
#1 - Frame out a Schedule
I know that, for me, having too many distractions will completely fry me. I need to have some times for complete laser focus where I can dig into something with nothing else going on. A golden block of time to really get something done is 90 minutes. This allows for space to dig deeply into an issue/project and develop a plan, create content, explore solutions, etc.
So the biggie for this is to frame out a schedule that supports these time blocks. Especially at home where little to-dos will always loom, it's easy to let things go to the back burner. Even if you're staying at home all day, it's a-ok to make appointments for yourself. Block off specific times on your calendar that are your distraction-free focus times, and protect these as a sacred meeting the same you would for a client or a medical appointment.
What you don't prioritize gets lost - so prioritize your focus time with a scheduled framework that allows for the focus you need to keep from feeling frazzled.
#2 - Own The Responsibility
Yikes...are you reacting to everything around you and then mad at everyone else for not helping you stay on task?
Think about how you are approaching your family. Are you clearly laying out expectations and informing your family of what is on your plate today? Have you clearly communicated when you need distraction-free time, and created a plan for kids so you aren't "on call" during this time? Are you hitting your family up with random sidelining tasks as you go about your day? I often think of the book, "If You Give A Moose A Muffin..." - are you personally staying focused and clearly communicating that to others so they are aware?
#3 - Create The Right Environment
I am a visual person. For me, it is imperative that my setting support what I want to do. Trying to work in a cluttered, messy space is a recipe for overwhelm and disaster for me.
It may be as simple as shutting the door and clearing your desk of all visible distractions. Your mind will wander to whatever is a disruption in your periphery - so think about those things that look/feel out of place, as well as those alerts and notifications that can pop up.
Regardless of whether it's my children or me, if we want clear focus, we first look at creating the environment that supports that. Pay attention to all the senses - what are you hearing, seeing, feeling...?
#4 - Use Your Time Strategically
Have you ever tried to conquer a major project during the mid-afternoon lull? If so, you know that it can be a painful drudge. To the degree that you can push through, it will take you longer to accomplish the task. Time really does make an impact on what it is you're doing.
Keep this in mind for your whole family. Are your kids super sluggish in the morning? Maybe allowing an extra hour of down time in the morning for reading and easing into the day makes for more receptiveness to schoolwork later.
Or maybe the flip side of this - in the morning you're re-charged and your energy is at it's highest, and what would be hard to drudge through during an afternoon lull is perfect to accomplish in those first hours of the day.
If you want your whole family functioning at their highest level, then pay attention to their natural rhythms and use it to your advantage - notice their peak energy times as great opportunities to time block for the big things you need they need to accomplish.
#5 - Schedule In Breaks
While this may seem counterintuitive, scheduling regular breaks helps to refresh the mind. It is different than distraction in that it is a purposeful break between thoughts and projects – a clearing of the mind in preparation for the next new thing.
This is especially important for parents to keep in mind right now as we're trying to play multiple roles in this modified lifestyle. If you push your family from project to project and task to task without this purposeful switch, it can lead to mental clutter, slow productivity, feelings of overwhelm, and eventual burnout.
Allow for free play opportunities! This is a hard one for me, yet so critical. While my super-driven personality style may be eager to accomplish the next big thing, it is so, so valuable to allow for some down time to recharge and recover.
Give space between areas of focus to allow yourself and others in your family to assimilate, document, and/or clear away what they were doing before. Down times to recharge may look like journaling, going for a walk or other outdoor reset, or doing something just for fun, with no major goal other than to defrag.
You are way more likely to foster an environment of continual growth if you allow not only the time to grow, but the time to sit with what you've learned and accomplished.
Some additional resources for you
- Namaste – On Truly Hearing Each Other (Episode 149)
- Tasks: Tips to Move Past Overwhelm and Make It Flow
- Tasks: They Are Taking Over My Life!
- Life Isn’t Compartmentalized…but if it were…
- The Burden of Overwhelm – Moving Forward While Always Feeling Behind
- Connecting, Screen-time, Challenges and Overwhelm (Episode 72)
- How to Nip Parenting Struggles in the Bud (Episode 76)
- True Parent Struggles: TRANSITIONS (Episode 92)
- Bathtub Boundaries with an Ocean of Love (Episode 15)
- The Steps For Emotional Resilience (Episode 150)
- Self-Love, or Self-Sabotage? (Episode 152)
- Parent Styles – Are they helpful or harmful? (Episode 102)
- How do I equip my kid to “adult”? (Episode 89)
- Learn more about DISC Personality Styles
- Life Long Learners Come In All Personality Styles
- How can I be both teacher and student? Reach for the sun yourself! (Episode 74)
Your Weekly Challenge:
Here are three great questions to ask yourself when you start feeling like a frazzled family lacking focus:
- Am I focused right now? (bring AWARENESS to your current situation)
- If not, why not? (IDENTIFY what is pulling you away)
- How do I get back on track? (work toward RECOVERY by creating a plan to reset)
Look for opportunities to reset, and try again. Know that you are not writing in concrete what will be your entire path for the future; you are simply working with what you need to do right now. It's okay to work in 2 week increments. It's okay to lay out a gameplan just for the next few days and see how it works.
Continue to go back to these three questions to keep yourself - and your family on track, and be sure to celebrate the little wins along the way. For every time you get it right, celebrate it! Give yourself some grace to play, to be, and to reflect, and do the same for your family. We'll all approach things differently and have different ways to process - and it's in allowing each of us to know, create, and set our own pace that we can really highlight how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.