5 Ways to Focus When Your To-Do List Has A Million Things On It

focus stress squirrel.png

Part of the solution to focusing better is letting go of the strongly held “anti-focus” beliefs you may not even realize you have. Here are the top 5 that make us lose valuable time and keep us feeling swamped. And what you can do instead.

5 Focus Beliefs and How to Change Them

  1. Belief: If I don’t do something as soon as I think of it, I’ll forget it. Antidote: Write it down on a running list you keep on your phone (or notebook) and do it after you finish what you’re working on. Don’t change tasks each time you remember something and don’t bog your brain down trying to remember this type of information. Write it on something and stay the course.

  2. Belief: Working on a few things at once will help me get through my to-do list faster. Antidote: To see for yourself, this may take a leap of faith. You need to actually put the blinders on, ignore the other things needing to be done, and do only one-thing-at-a-time to see for yourself. Go ahead, set your stopwatch. Science is on your side.
  3. Belief: Distractions of my choosing are okay, it’s the other ones that eat away at my time. Antidote: Micro-time losses add up over the course of the day regardless of whether we are consciously initiating them or not. Each time we stop what we’re doing to quickly zip off this email, check the notifications on our phone, or look up that one little thing, even if we are choosing to do so, we lose time transitioning back to our original task. Bottom line, fight the urges to interrupt your attention to what you’re doing. Squirrel!
  4. Belief: There’s not enough time in the day to do everything but I’ll pretend there is and waste energy on stressing about getting everything done! Antidote: Hate to get all tough love on you but you’ll truly benefit from coming to terms with reality here. Even if you have folks knocking down your door, when it’s literally not possible to get everything done, don’t get pulled into crazytown over it. Stress takes up valuable time and energy so allocate it wisely to things in your control. Take a deep breath and know your sense of what you can do is based on reality. Calmly press on forward.
  5. Belief: I don’t know what to do first and since I need to do the absolute first thing first if I don’t know what that is, what do I do? Antidote: Do the hardest thing or the part that you are least looking forward doing first. If a priority order isn’t readily apparent, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this strategy. Your plan B should be doing the thing at the top of your list. Your plan C should be doing them in alphabetical order. Plan D close your eyes and point to one and do it. Plan E…you get the point, just do something. When you continuously work on your list, prioritization becomes more apparent. It’s sorta like magic.

Huge to-do lists and distractions are here to stay. These 5 strategies will help you replace work-overwhelm with work-momentum!


If you’re the DIY, super busy, dip-your-toe-in-before-diving type and would like to overcome your anxiety in the comfort, convenience and privacy of your own home, check out my 4 week online mini-course.