On of the hardest parts of planning any event from beginning to end is keeping on task and ensuring that tasks are being completed in a timely manner.

Most people have trouble staying focused on the task at hand. We live in a multitasking world. The phone rings, the cell phone dings to notify that there is a new text message and you are trying to confirm the menu via email for the keynote speaker dinner. Keeping on task is a challenge for anyone, but especially with so much to complete before the event.

What do most people do? They check the cell phone, while typing the email quickly and attempting to pick up the ringing phone. This lack of focus can lead to mistakes that might seem small now but can turn out to be costly later on. On top of that, it can be difficult to know whether or not you actually completed the task when you’re distracted with other things.

Tips for Keeping on Task

  • Create a checklist. You should have a master checklist of all the tasks that must be completed, a monthly breakdown, a weekly breakdown and a daily list. Each day, check off the items that have been completed, one at a time.
  • Stay focused on the task  at hand. Although it is tempting to glance at that cell phone, resist the urge until other tasks are completed.
  • Complete the most important tasks on your daily list first. This ensures the big ticket items are completed in a timely manner.
  • Don’t put too many big tasks on your daily list. Ideally, you’ll have one or two big tasks each week and a lot of smaller ones that are quick and easy to complete.
  • If you delegate some of the tasks to others, be sure to follow up with a quick phone call or email to make sure the tasks were still completed. If you have to add the follow up on your daily task list, then do so.
  • Remove the distractions. If your cell phone is a distraction, set it to “Do Not Disturb.” This will allow calls from people you designate to come through and block the others. For example, if you want to be sure you can receive calls from your child’s school, you can put that number on a preferred list and the call would still come through.

Train Your Brain to Focus

In an article in Entrepreneur, Nadia Goodman points out that our brains are tuned in to pay attention to distractions. It is part of survival and signals to move your attention. It is an automatic response, but researchers believe you can train your brain to maintain focus even in the midst of distractions.

  • Complete tasks that require creative thinking first. In the article mentioned above, Goodman states that most people focus on menial tasks first, but this drains energy and can impact creativity. Instead, do the creative tasks first and the mindless tasks later when you have less focus.
  • Figure out what time of day you focus best. This varies widely between different people. Pay attention to when you are most productive and get the most work completed. This might be morning, afternoon, evening, or in the wee hours. Adjust accordingly.
  • Spend five minutes every day training your brain to focus on a single task. If you’re been multitasking for years, you’ve trained your brain to be distracted. Practice focusing five minutes at first and then ten and build up to as long as you can.

All that said, it is also important to take frequent breaks so you don’t get overly stressed and overloaded. Sometimes a quick walk around the block can free your thinking and let you come back to the task at hand with more focus and determination.