How to Stay Focused Without Burning Out

May 28, 2014


Being ambitious and goal-oriented is a good thing. It means you’re living with a purpose and you do what you do for a reason. The problem is that just because you are working towards something doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself feeling lost from time to time. It’s natural that after a point your creativity doesn’t feel like it’s flowing, you begin to second-guess yourself more than usual, and it just seems like you’re having trouble concentrating. When this happens, all is not lost. In my experience, the moments where you feel like you’re hitting a wall can be compared to the quiet before the storm and it’s really important to break out of that state of feeling like your brain is just not cooperating. Here are some of my tips for how to stay focused + creative without burning out!

1. Quiet Time –  It’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed these days. With technology and social media, we’re all more accessible than we’ve ever been. There’s tons of information to keep up with, people to respond to, things to check up on, etc. (and I’m not even talking about your personal relationships, although those are not dismissed either.) Making time in the morning and at night to just sit and do nothing, and I mean nothing, just sitting up straight with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing, can be the most freeing experience and can make a world of a difference in how you approach your day and handle stress. In some ways, simply experiencing that not engaging with anything or anyone for 20 minutes first thing in the morning or 20 minutes later in the day will not ruin anything can be very calming. Trying meditation (a lot of the most successful people swear by TM or Transcendental Meditation) is shown to greatly improve the quality of life by decreasing stress which in turn helps you focus and work more effectively.

2. Schedule Breaks – This is especially important if you’re self-employed/entrepreneur/work-for-yourself (however you describe yourself) as it’s easy to get distracted. Simply scheduling time for when you are going to eat, check out some articles you really wanted to look at online, etc. can be really helpful at keeping you focused throughout the day. Often times, just knowing that there is a time set aside for allowing yourself to indulge in these activities will keep you from straying off course.

3. Find Ways to Make Things Fun – When we first jump into a new project, we’re really excited and have all of these ideas. Then when we really get to work, that excitement tends to dwindle and fade away. This is where a lot of people give up. A simple thing to do is to remind yourself why you set out to do this thing in the first place, what would it mean to you to see this through? And ask yourself how you can make the work part more fun. Are there any activities that you can start to treat as a kind of game? Are there parts of the day where you can add some music? Any moments where you can get away with being a little silly?

4. Make Up For Lost Sleep & Time – Sundays are sleep in days for me. I’m a one-woman show and most nights I don’t get more than about 5-6 hours of sleep. But sleep is really important for your brain. So on Sundays, I allow myself to stay in bed for as long as I want to. If I don’t get to do this on Sunday, I’ll pick another day. But my point is, I give myself one day a week to not do much of anything and to use it to catch up on sleep and/or strengthen + maintain my personal relationships. Often times, your best ideas will come to you in your down time and you won’t be able to wait to get to take advantage of them and get to work.

5. Bye, Bye Screens – These days, most of us not only work on our computers, laptops, phones, iPads and tablets, etc. but we also practically live off of them. Keeping distractions to a minimum is essential during “work hours” but also stepping away from these things and engaging with the real non-digital world can give you the mental recharge you need.

6. A Body in Motion Stays in Motion – Working out and getting some physical activity is really important. I read an article a while ago that said sitting for too long can pretty much kill you and so I’ve been routinely forcing myself to stand whenever I can. Besides that, exercise boosts endorphins which help you feel better and give you energy. For most people, incorporating even 20 minutes of exercise into your day 3-4 times a week can do more good for you and your mental health and stamina than any antidepressant.

In the past month or two, I’ve been working on some projects that have been far outside of my comfort zone and what I’ve been used to. Learning to take on these new responsibilities and keep focused has been a challenge but these are some of the things I like to keep in mind whenever I feel like “my batteries” are draining. If you have any questions or things that you like to do to keep focused, send me a tweet @jessicaharlow! I’d love to hear from you. xx

Who Is Kyle Moon is my own jewelry line with pieces that are designed and handmade by me! Some items are one-of-a-kind and some are made with vintage pieces. Anyone that has ordered from my line knows that it's a very personal experience & that it brings me great joy to bring you sparkly things.

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