9 Pros Share Their Routines That Help Them Focus On Their True Passions
The world is full of distractions: text messages, overloaded email inboxes, pop-up ads for flash sales at your favorite stores, clickbait headlines, social media notifications, and so much more. This became all too evident when I recently started taking college classes again as I contemplate a career change. I was jarringly reminded how hard it is to ditch interruptions while attempting to study. In our always-on culture, avoiding technology is an anomaly. It’s expected that you’ll respond to messages in a timely manner — because who doesn’t have their phones on them 24/7?
During the height of finals week, even well-meaning texts from friends and family proved to be stressful, frustrating, and a huge time suck. (Did you know answering one message can lead to 30 minutes of mindless scrolling through social media?!). Finally, I realized I needed to leave my phone powered down and at the bottom of my backpack while taking advantage of the campus library. Simply placing it behind my stack of textbooks wasn’t enough, as I’d be tempted to check it every time I heard a faint buzz.
Though a simple (and really quite silly) hack, hiding my phone proved to be the uncompromising mechanism I needed to achieve peak focus—and the additional incentive of screen time post-study session provided a sweet reward that doubled as motivation to be more efficient.
To find out how other professionals fight back against interruptions, and boldly transform their individual distractions into productivity, Bustle has partnered with 1850™ Brand Coffee to talk to nine trailblazing women about the routines, hacks, and strategies that help them focus on their true passions.
I Take The Long Way Home
"I take quick 5 to 10 minute walks when I need a break during my job, or sometimes I even walk home — even though taking the subway is much faster. Walking can actually be more productive because I'm able to come up with ideas or make connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise made. Visiting a pop-up shop or taking a different route on my walk home can be exhausting, but it can also create opportunities for lightbulb moments which I can then translate into a display, or a new creative concept at work. Anything that gets me outside my comfort zone and prevents monotony helps keep me focused. I think a good way of finding those things, sometimes, is through procrastination. " —Alyson, Fashion Visual Merchandiser
I Make To-Do Lists — Then Celebrate My Wins
"For me, it's all about making that morning to-do list and being realistic about it. There's just no way that staring at 20 different action items isn't going to be overwhelming. So I write down the tasks that I know I can legitimately handle throughout the course of a work day. If the day is light in terms of immediate to-dos, then I think about what I've been putting off. Ultimately, I find that checking off those Everest-feeling tasks is the most rewarding. I celebrate those small wins, and remember to take the time to commend myself for doing the best I can with what I have — and when that involves wine, even better. —Emily, Writer, Editor & Creator of Hurdle Podcast
I Take Social Media Breaks
"To be honest, I'm a very overstimulated human being to begin with. Tack on the constant distractions brought on by text messages, Instagram notifications and my seemingly endless Facebook feed, and it's a miracle I get anything done! I do find, however, that sometimes a bit of a mental break here and there — even if that means a glance at some Instagram stories — is helpful for me. I'm the kind of person who needs that quick minute or two to recharge after hammering down deadlines for hours on end." —Jenn Sinrich, Freelance Writer
I Slow Down To Stay On Pace
"I meditate every day—once, or maybe twice if it's a stressful day. Taking time out for myself to just be is essential to my wellbeing. It helps to ground myself, and in turn helps me stay focused on what really matters." —Jasmine, Life Coach & CEO Of Coaching By Jasmine
I Use Social Media For Inspiration
"I have found many idea inspirations on social media that directly correlate with work. It's important to stay up-to-date [on what's going on in the industry, and in the world], and social media is an excellent outlet for that, especially in my industry." —Jennifer, Senior VP Of Partnerships At ModiFace
I Bookmark Everything — For Later
"By day, I'm a branded content editor. By night, I'm a pop culture critic. Recently, my friend and I launched a podcast about a very famous drag queen competition show, and it's quickly become our favorite thing to do. I make to-do lists every day, and because the days get busy, I literally make an action item on my to-do lists sometimes that affords for 'podcast planning.' In my case, that might be anything from diving deep into forums for gossip, or watching YouTube interviews. Others might call it 'procrastination,' but I call it 'research.' Also, getting that obligatory shot of caffeine before a morning recording is key to getting my energy and ~charisma~ up. " —Arielle, Writer & Co-Host Of OKURRR!
I Hack My Own Tech
"Social media is my biggest time-suck at home — when I should be with my husband and baby. I recently installed a plugin that does redirects — so whenever I mindlessly try to go to social media to procrastinate, it redirects me to a website for meditations. I also moved my social media app button to the third screen on my smartphone. It's all alone, so I really notice when I scroll to it. " —Meghan, Author
I Follow Inspirational People
"I turn social media into a place of curated inspiration on different platforms. Following professional runners and designers on social media that use the platform as a place to promote their portfolio or their tips on workouts for training helps me to turn a meaningless act of 'scrolling' into something productive. I save posts that inspire me for later, when I'm working on my freelance design projects or getting ready to go out for a run." —Claire, Graphic Designer & Recreational Runner
I Schedule Time To Do Nothing
"I spent most of my early career trying to keep an impossible schedule, leaving one thing early to be late to the next, working late and rushing out in the morning. ... I always want to take on another project: I want to raise my hand, I want to lead. But I'm learning that in order to do things well, sometimes you have to do a little less.
That means I schedule my down time: I give myself 30 minutes in the morning to drink my coffee and read, or stare out the window. I don't work through lunch. I try to have one evening a week without any commitments. I do whatever I want during that time, but I don't volunteer myself for things that would impinge on that flexibility.
When I was going 110 miles an hour all the time, I was afraid that slowing down would mean a drop in productivity, but I find that this breathing space actually makes me more creative and productive during work hours." —Rachel, Concept Engineer & Grad Student
This article is sponsored by 1850™ Brand Coffee.