The Task of Staying on Task

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The Task of Staying on Task | RaisingArrows.netI have lots of ideas.  They swirl around in my brain all day long.  I’ve told you how I make lists to keep me on task and get my brain in order, but today I want to dig a little deeper.

Why Can I Not Stay on Task?

The simplified answer to this question is,

Because too many things are vying for my attention.

I tell my husband all the time that I forget things simply because there is too much in my brain, and it occasionally dumps information so as to avoid overflowing.

Not sure he buys that.

But whatever the case may be, I know as a homeschool mom and stay-at-home wife and mother, I have to stay on task or watch the chaos ensue.  Here are a few of things I do in order to stay focused throughout the day.

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Make notes

I recently purchased 3 purple notepads just for keeping by my computer to help me remember things.  So often, I have trouble keeping things straight while working on blog projects and homeschooling.  It helps to have my brain on paper.

However, the one issue I’ve found with making notes is the fact that my children really like my notepads.  It is inevitable that I will find my notepads all over the house emblazoned with lovely little doodles.  Lately, my 4 year old has been practicing his letters and writing “notes” to me and Daddy using my notepads.  I really struggle to reprimand for such cuteness.

The Voices in My Head

It is not uncommon for me to repeat over and over in my head the tasks I need to do.  I’ve done this since I was a child.  In fact, I used to sing the things I needed to do!

Switch laundry, change out toilet paper roll, check math…
Switch laundry, change out toilet paper roll, check math…

And yes, sometimes I just say the things out loud no matter the strange looks I get from my children.

The Immediate Method

Sometimes tasks are urgent, and while I despise the tyranny of the urgent, I also know that  when something needs immediate attention, you just have to suck it up and give it the attention it needs.

For instance, suppose my husband is headed out the door to work and asks me to make a certain phone call.  Chances are, if I don’t make that phone call that very moment, I’m likely to forget.  I have to take care of it immediately.


Office Hours

One thing I encourage other blogging mamas to do is create office hours.  This works for non-blogging mamas too!  There are hours we homeschool, so why not add in hours we work on “office” related things.  Set aside a couple of hours in the afternoon that are your Office Hours.  During these Office Hours, you work through your lists, work on household things, and make new lists for the next day.  This can also be the time you have the children do a 15 Minute Tidy.  This creates the relief of knowing that what you cannot get to right now will eventually get done because you have time carved out for that specific task.

Ditch the Distractions

As I mentioned earlier, there are lots of things vying for our time.  One thing you must do in order to stay on task is shut out the distractions.  For me, this means I do not get on the internet first thing in the morning.  It will suck me in and ruin my day.

Consider the things in your life that distract you from staying on task:

  • your phone
  • the internet
  • social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter)
  • too many hobbies/projects
  • poorly planned schedules/appointments/outings

Take back your life!  Don’t allow these kinds of distractions a foothold.  Put them in their proper place and at their proper time.

Be on the Inside Looking In

An online friend recently told me to never allow your eyes to stray beyond the windows of your own home.  In other words, stop comparing yourself with others.  If you spend too much time looking at someone else’s life, someone else’s curriculum, someone else’s marriage, you are very likely to eventually want to be someone else.  You will find yourself in a perpetual state of unhappiness because you can’t be like Susie-so-and-so.  You think the grass is greener, but its not.

Certainly, we can learn from others, but comparing ourselves and striving to be someone we only know from the outside looking in, will end in disaster and leave us far off course.

God gave you this family.  He has a unique purpose for your family.  He has a unique set of tasks for you to accomplish.  Staying on task is more than just making it through a checklist each day.  It is ordering your day according to His purposes.  You stay on task because everything you do is focused on glorifying God and serving Him.  If there is something in your life that is distracting you from this purpose, then it is time to get back on task!

So, what are your struggles when it comes to staying on task?  What distracts you?  Can you relate to any of the things mentioned above?

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13 Comments on The Task of Staying on Task

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13 thoughts on “The Task of Staying on Task

  1. Oh my goodness Amy! Did you read my mind this morning?! This answers so many questions and helps me tremendously! Now to just identify those too many hobbies and figure out “office hours”…

  2. Totally relate. Recently put up a second white board so I could try posting my brain so I could see it clearly, lol. I need white boards in every room of my house!!! I get so lost since having baby #4. I know I spend too much time on the internet and when I have down time that’s what I gravitate toward. I know there are a hundred other things I should be doing but even with the notes, I get lost and do nothing sometimes.

      • Both you ladies, have encouraged me :)…and I’m actually thinking there is some way to incorperate that white board idea for sure, love that, lol :)
        Most of these things I already know, but one more reminder sure helped!

  3. Great ideas!
    I get into trouble because I’ve tried to keep all my lists, calendar, etc. on my phone, but when I go to add something or cross something off I inevitably get sucked into clicking through a few notifications and emails. Before I know it, I’ve been on twitter, facebook, email all because I wanted to put “onion” on my shopping list!
    I think I’ll try to reincorporate paper into my productivity attempts :)

  4. Your point on comparison is something I *really* struggle with and the main reason I shy away from Pinterest. I am a recovering perfectionist so I often struggle with the feeling that I should be doing more and being more because other people are doing them. I have a similar struggle with reading blogs, but I get so many good tips and inspiration from blogs that I can’t quite give that up yet – I just cut back to the ones I truly love.

    Thanks (as always) for the thoughtful post!

    • I can understand how Pinterest would be a difficult place to be. We have to just keep telling ourselves God does not expect perfection from us, but rather a willing heart that listens to His leading.

  5. I found the idea of office hours interesting coming from a job where “office hours” were the time set aside to be available to students. I know I function better if I have a little of this time at the start of the day and short moments throughout the day to make/check my lists.

    I like to use hard-bound notebooks (These are my favorites so far: I found them at the ASU bookstore when I was there.) for planning purposes. I haven’t used them as much since leaving the workforce, but I have one set aside for blogging and am still using one for some academic writing. They come with tabs and an index to fill in. They may be less tempting for little ones to take off with. (I know my mom would likely have no chance of keeping purple paper out of my hands, perhaps even now!) :)

  6. Wow this was just what I needed- i stummbled accross this and BAM
    Esp about God and his purpose- WOW HE really knows what he is doing. THANKS!