In the 21st century, it’s easier than ever before to become focused on anything and everything, except for your career.
For those who would like to excel and grow at work, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Which parts of your personal life should you minimize if you want your professional life to expand? How do you find that balance between the two? Is there a way to better use the time you have, so that you build momentum for the long-term?
The good news is that there are several things you can stop focusing on, so you can focus more on your career. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Social Media
It will likely come as no surprise, but social media is one of the biggest time-drains out there.
Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media, many of us wind up falling down a rabbit hole of mindless scrolling, using valuable time that could be spent somewhere else—namely, completing work tasks or getting ahead on upcoming projects.
While it’s not necessary to cut social media out of your life entirely, it may be helpful to set aside a specific amount of time each week as designated social media time.
Set an alarm specifically for when you’re on Twitter or scrolling through Instagram—once that session is up, it’s time to put down the phone or step away from the laptop.
Exhaustion is fairly common in our go-go-go lifestyles, and many of us struggle to show up fully at work when we’re running on too few hours of rest and too many cups of caffeine. Instead of dragging yourself through each day, make a point to get enough sleep each night.
Going to bed at a normal time and sleeping a full seven to eight hours may sound counter-productive to your work goals.
However, when you arrive at work well-rested, you’ll be in a better mood, be better able to handle challenging situations, and may just accomplish more than you would, had you not gotten enough rest.
Another common complaint is that it’s difficult to get work done, let alone excel at it because there’s no pre-existing organization structure in place.
Regardless of how your company has set things up, you likely have the power to at least keep your work and your desk space in order.
When you have a set process for getting things done and a clear system for doing so, you’ll spend less time focusing on how disorganized everything is. This will give you more time to do your job, or decide if it’s time to take a step in a new professional direction.
4. Home Repairs
With so much going on at work, a mounting list of home repairs could add stress and take away from the time you have to hone in on your skillset and level up your career.
According to House Method, outsourcing home maintenance and home improvement tasks to professionals who can dedicate the time and energy into completing them. Often, these tasks take an overwhelming amount of effort and precision, which can be hard to balance with your job.
Essentially, if you’re not a master electrician, don’t feel bad about hiring someone who is! It will be a win-win in the long-run.
5. Non-Essential Notifications
In a world of constant alerts, breaking news, social media updates, emails, work pings, and more, there’s a high chance you receive countless notifications on your devices throughout the day. While some of these can be helpful, there’s a fine line between what is essential and what is distracting.
As much as you can, make an effort to turn off non-essential notifications. Social media alerts are a good first option to silence if you aren’t sure where to begin. You may even decide to silence personal email or non-emergency contacts on your phone.
One good strategy is to put your phone on “Night Mode” when you fall asleep, so you aren’t awakened by any news notifications, texts, or calls. By following these recommendations, you’ll create fewer opportunities for distraction, so that you can continue to stay focused on the work tasks at hand.
6. Unrealistic Expectations
Every day when you wake up, do you already have a mile-long to-do list running through your head? You’re not alone in this.
However, creating an endless list of tasks you should accomplish may actually be distracting you more than helping you. Instead of maintaining unrealistic expectations, commit yourself to accomplish the three most important things on that list. Anything extra will feel like a bonus.
7. People Who Bring You Down
While it’s nice to imagine that our personal lives and our professional lives will never overlap, the truth is that what’s going on at work is going to affect what’s going on at home, and vice versa. Because of this, if you’re dealing with relationships in either sphere that are making you feel less confident, focused, and successful than you would like, it’s important to pay attention.
If possible, consider approaching the individual in a non-confrontational way to work out any issues that they may not be aware of.
However, there are some situations when a relationship is best ended and left in the past. Only you know what will help you find peace of mind so that you can move forward. Evaluate the relationships in your life and make a choice about what stays and what goes.
8. Activities You Don’t Enjoy
We’ve all been there: you receive an invitation to a party, a trivia night, a book club—something you don’t want to attend, but feel obligated to do so. While it’s great to support friends and family with their passions, if these activities are keeping you from spending time working on your career, it’s time to learn how to say no.
It may feel uncomfortable at first in your career, but as you get into the habit of turning down invitations to things you personally don’t enjoy, you’ll feel more confident in establishing your boundaries. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a “no” every time.
Maybe this month you’re not into the potluck, but next month, you are! Give yourself permission to set your terms with kindness and those who care about you will understand.
9. The Unknown
One of the biggest fears that many of us experience is a fear of the unknown. Wondering about a new promotion, a new company, a new life choice—all of these questions can keep our minds wandering for hours, even days on end.
While it can feel good to think through a potential situation in advance, the truth is that all of the thinking, worrying, analyzing, and hoping will not do anything to make you more successful in the present.
So, when thought about the unknown pops up, acknowledge that this is something that matters to you. Then, decide if there is something you can actively do about it and take action. If not, bring yourself back into the present so you can continue taking tangible steps in the direction of your goals.
If you are overrun with distractions, obligations, and responsibilities, the idea of focusing on your career and truly excelling in your chosen profession may feel impossible.
Fortunately, it’s much easier than you may have thought. By implementing just a few of these tips in your career, you can begin to streamline your life, so that you have time and space to give your work 100% of your attention.