Have you ever found your head spinning with a to-do list longer than your 5-year old’s Christmas list? Let’s face it, for most of us, there are way too many “to do’s” in a single day. How can we stop spinning long enough to accomplish at least the most important to-do’s?

Tunnel vision, my friends. 

There are appropriate times for broadening our horizons, and using panoramic vision. Sitting at my desk today, with a to-do list that’s longer than all six of my kid’s past Christmas lists combined, is not one of those appropriate times. I need to focus. I need tunnel vision.

One of my strengths is my ability to see possibility in nearly anything; I look beyond what I’m seeing to see opportunity. I’m also very good at listening while working; I’m usually both aware of what I’m doing and what’s going on around me. This is both awesome and debilitating: I can’t truly focus if I’m also filtering in the conversations and actions around me.

Those of us who struggle with focus, excel at other things. I can create a gourmet dinner from a sparse refrigerator or turn a huge fail into a winning opportunity. I can see broadly, imagining multiple opportunities far into the future, but ask me to focus on one thing and I go nutso. I get flustered. I find a dozen other things to do. I repair broken jewelry from a decade ago. I avoid. And I rebel. Literally. I have been fired from jobs in the past because no one could ever find me at my desk. I was off working on a bigger project (I had also been assigned), one that allowed me to use all of my abilities to see, imagine, create and dream, but I wasn’t focused on the project with a deadline of that day.

Are you, like me, a master multitasker, but not so good when it comes to focus? We both know this is not good.

How do we improve our focus and increase our productivity?

Here are three changes to my daily routine that have helped me, I hope they help you too!

  1. Every decision we make in a day taxes our brain. Start working on the most important – and difficult – projects first, and save the more simple tasks for later. This will help you make the most important decisions while your brain is fresh.
  2. Figure out your most productive time, when is it easiest for you to focus, is it morning, mid-afternoon, nighttime? Do your most strenuous thinking and hardest tasks during that time. 
  3. Turn off all distractions and allow your brain to focus. We are so accustomed to multitasking, our brain literally needs to be retrained to focus on a single task. 

And now I’m off to another task. One thing at a time is today’s motto.

It’s OK to be a visionary, in fact it’s a talent, but it’s also OK to put on those tunnel vision blinders and focus.

Remember: tune out everything else and focus!  Multitasking has its merits too, but tunnel vision will help you accomplish the most important and most difficult tasks, allowing you to have quality time to work on the lighter, more creative tasks. It’s much more fun to work this way. I promise. And you might even have time to peruse those Christmas lists!

Jean Krisle is the CEO/Founder of 10,000 Beds, Inc. a 501c3 nonprofit organization with the mission of recovery. She is currently #OnTheRoad4Recovery, traveling the US to elevate awareness, change perceptions around addiction and recovery, and connect with people affected by addiction. Jean speaks to teams to inspire success after change, whether it’s recovery from addiction, a personal loss, or a new challenge. She helps you find the opportunity in your trials, challenges and failures. Her message is about capitalizing on challenges and looking for and finding opportunity in the midst of them. She also speaks to CEOs to inspire vision, collaboration and stronger leadership for greater success.You can connect with Jean at the 2017 ETHOS conferences in Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Or you can reach her at jean@10000beds.org. You can also support 10,000 Beds by making a contribution today to help provide scholarships for those without resources seeking help for addiction.