When I sat down to write this article, I was completely focused on what I wanted to accomplish. Now, here it is, just 20 minutes later, and I’m feeling scattered and unfocused.

What happened?

  • An “urgent” text pinged, saddling me with another task I must accomplish by the end of the day.
  • My cleaning crew arrived, late again, and the noise from the vacuum cleaner is making it impossible for me to concentrate.
  • Then, my next client called. She was close by; could we possibly start the session earlier?

So, now the calm I was feeling is gone, replaced by the stress of wondering how to fit everything into my day.

Do you experience days, perhaps weeks, like this? I wouldn’t be surprised if you do as we live in a culture of busyness. Too much to do, too much on your mind, too many distractions. Is it any wonder that you feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions? Thoughts are swirling in your brain. How will you ever get it all done?

So, what do you do when you are feeling scattered and agitated? Here are some answers:

  1. Most importantly, don’t panic. It may feel as if you’ll never get it all done, but you will. Maybe not in the time frame that you had hoped for. But, if you’ve made a commitment and you’re a responsible person, trust that you will get it done.
  2. Practice mindfulness. Be in touch with your thoughts and feelings, without judging yourself. I know, this is not easy to do. Still, aim to become fully aware of what’s happening now rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future
  3. Decide what’s most important for you to do RIGHT NOW. You can’t do everything at once so be mindful of your present energy level. Maybe what you need to do right now is to have lunch. Maybe it’s tackling the tough task; maybe the easy task. You be the judge.
  4. Minimize distractions by turning off your phone and other electronic devices. This means no e-mail, no texts, no social media, no TV, no Internet. Wow! Without all those potential distractions, you may find that you have plenty of time to do what needs to be done. Diversions are so much a part of our lives that we don’t appreciate how much time they gobble up.
  5. Turn big intimidating tasks into smaller, less threatening ones. Instead of overwhelming yourself by looking at the whole panorama of tasks in front of you, divide the tasks into smaller, doable bits. That way, they’ll be easier to tackle.
  6. Encourage and support yourself. Tell yourself, “I can do this.” I made this phone call; only two more to go. I wrote two paragraphs; I’m on a roll. Good for me; I am focused. I will meet my goals. I feel pride in my progress; joy in my accomplishments.

So, have I taken my own advice? You betcha! To begin to feel less scattered, I took a deep breath. I told myself not to panic; it will all get done. I became mindful about what I was thinking and feeling. I decided to tell my client to come on over; we could start early. Then I instructed my cleaning crew to move to another area, away from my office and to save the vacuuming for later. After I finished the session with my client, I had a relaxing cup of tea. I briefly scrolled through my messages and e-mails, realizing that nothing required my immediate attention; not even that “urgent” text.

Then I turned off my phone; I did not want to be distracted under any circumstances. I took another deep breath and returned to writing this article. As I became aware that my advice was not only for you, but also for myself, I rewrote the first few paragraphs. As I continued writing, I realized that I was no longer feeling scattered; my mind was on the task at hand. And now I am finished. I feel good. I did it! And I still have time to watch my favorite TV program. Good for me!