How To Stay Focused

how to stay focused

Do you know the following situation? You finally have some time to work on your project, there is a ton of things you want to get done and you are highly motivated. Then, three hours later you leave your desk and notice that you have wasted your precious time clicking through interesting facebook updates, tons of funny youtube clips and important emails (aka direct marketing advertisements). But you haven’t moved on with your project.

It happens to me as well and that´s why I try to focus on my stuff as hard as I can. In this post, I´ll share with you one of my methods of staying focused. 🙂

Your watchdog

The first thing I see when I open the door and get into my studio is a big brown cardboard with a lot of little cards on it. This is my task list, the things I have to get done. There are several tasks written onto each card. And at the left of every task there is a little square which I check off when the task has been done. Every task also has an ID-number which I write onto my “get-these-ones-done-the-following-week”-list.

staying focused on your project

There are also some other boards and papers like the ones you can see on the right in the picture above. Some of you might recognize it from this post.

staying focused on your project
Ewok figure

Who knows that little fella watching over my task lists?

Ok, so you got some cards with nice little squares glued onto your wall, but what’s that good for?

It´s simple, these boards have two functions:

  1. They show me on a single glance how much workload I have to get done within the next months. They show me where I am and where I have to get to.
  2. They scream to me every time I look at them: “Get your stuff done. Now! You have way less time left than you think you have!”
staying focused on your project
staying focused on your project

Having so many task to check off can be daunting at first, but it can protect you against getting distracted. Like the last time when I checked out one of the videos from the Brotherhood Workshop, who do stop motion Lego animations (which are just awesome by the way): I immediately wanted to get my camera and grab some lights and Legos and shoot something. We had done some Lego stop motion test shots with Claudia, a colleague, last summer and it was very promising. I just didn’t have the time to do more of it, so I forgot about it. Then, after watching some of the Brotherhood Workshop videos I was all excited to create some kind of stop motion web series. But then I checked my task-list-boards and they said: No.

At least not at this moment.

So my task-list-boards protected me against cranking up another project for which I would not have had the time at this moment.

In case you got curious about the Brotherhood Workshop – here is one of their videos (Just be sure to get your own workload done first 🙂  ).


About the look of your task-list-board (aka watchdog)

In my old office, I had a big whiteboard on which I used to organize my tasks (I loved it). This whiteboard was huge (and heavy) and I had put it in my storage room after I had moved out of the old office. I figured that it would cost me 3 1/2 hours to set up the big, shiny whiteboard in my new studio: Checking a car that was big enough to transport it, bringing the electric drill, mounting the board onto the wall, cleaning up, retourning the car… etc. Of course, it would look nicer than a cardboard thing, but setting it up would have cost me time during which I would finish two more inkings for my fairy tale book.

So what I want to say is: After you have decided where you want to get to and after you have identified (at least most of) the little steps you have to do in order to get there, you should not spend too much time on the aesthetics of your task list itself. It is just a tool.

What do you think? How do you organise your workload and stay focused? Feel free to leave a comment below!

6 responses to “How To Stay Focused

  1. Great system you have there. I tend to have a to-do list that gets a bit hectic as well sometimes, but I tend to use notebooks, and the stick on post it notes to remind me of stuff. Reviewing stuff usually involves a bit of forward planning, reading advanced review copies, going to screenings, ect, but its all good fun, and I love being busy. The white boards you mention sounds great as well, but obviously difficult to move to a new location. The internet, email, & youtube are all constant distractions, but when they are as much fun as that Ewok video its worth it! Fun to see you have the Ewok action figure watching over your list, I’ve got a Pinhead bobble head on my desk, nothing gets past him! LOL Great post, always fun to see how people use their workspace, have a good week!


    • Hellraiser! I loved the movies as a kid. I think that the first one left the biggest impression on me. The idea that Kirstie’s fahter would not be himself anymore freaked me totally out 🙂 And I can imagine that is has to be a lot of work reviewing so much material and keeping up your great blog. Have a nice weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Hellraiser is a brilliant horror film, one of my favourites as well. I like Clive Barker’s books too, a great writer. Yes, the writing / reviewing keeps me busy, but its all good fun – especially when its subjects I really enjoy. Thanks, and enjoy your weekend as well 🙂


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