Has this ever happened to you? You finally have a solid hour to edit that paper, apply for that academic award, write the first draft of a blog post or edit a collection of photos. You sit down and stare at your computer. Nothing happens. You’re uninspired and slightly distracted. You try to make something happen as you want to get something done and not waste time. You decide to check your email and notice that you have 2 unread emails. They won’t take long to sort out so you dive in. After 45 minutes, you have now sorted those emails but what about the task at hand? Instead of an hour, you now have 15 minutes to complete it. In the end, you get only part of it completed or, even more frustrating, you haven’t yet started. Gasp.
It’s all too easy to get distracted these days. To get some of the little and easy things done but not some of hard and messy ones. This has happened to me many times but I have learned some lessons along the way. One way to increase concentration is to work in a library or someone else’s office. There are no distractions when you are forced to be quiet and the lack of familiar surroundings and people may reduce interruptions. But, how to combat this when you’re working from home? I have developed a routine that helps me focus instead of feeling like this.
- Write it out. Write all of your tasks using a pen and paper. Big and small. Whatever comes to mind. Get it out of your head and onto the paper.
- Prioritize. Decide what needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow or next week. Number the items. Is there an easy task that can be done when you’re less focused (like folding laundry or going for a run). Schedule the most difficult tasks for times when you’re most alert (for me, this is in the morning).
- Set the stage. It’s difficult to focus when you’re working a messy area. Give yourself 10 minutes to tidy up (no deep cleaning here just putting the dishes away, stacking the papers and prepping your workspace).
- Intention. Without knowing it, you’ve already set your intention when you wrote down and prioritized your goals. Now, sit down and get that task done! Do not open any social media. Place your phone in another room. Work. Get it done. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always go back and fix it. It is easier to edit a draft than write a whole paper.
Now, with a smile full of satisfaction, check off that item.
It is all about intention and routine. It takes practice. Don’t give up.
Moving on to the “fun” part of the blog post. Baking and baking therapy. Beet muffins may sound a bit strange but I assure they are not. I actually created this recipe with the intention of naming it something like “pink muffins”. That name, however, sounds strange and is not even accurate. Once these muffins are baked they are not pink or red. I’m not sure of the chemistry here but I can comment on the taste. Moist with some seasonal spicy notes. Chocolate chips for a bit of sweetness (if you are packing these in your child’s lunch for afternoon snack, I advise you to omit the chocolate chips). Move over, pumpkin and hello, beets.
Beet Spiced Muffins
Makes: 12 muffins
Time: Prep time: 20 minutes* + Baking time (22 minutes)
2 cups (240 g) whole spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
½ cup (100 g) brown sugar
¼ cup (75 g) maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/3 cup of unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (184 g) beet puree** (about 3 medium beets)
½ cup (85 g) mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (175°C). Line a 12-cup. Measure out the ingredients.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the sugar, maple syrup and eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in the butter then the vanilla extract and beet puree (the mixture will be red).
4. Make a well in the dry mixture and add the wet mixture. Stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Scoop into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out cleans.
Enjoy as an afternoon snack with some sliced apples on the side.
* The estimated time assumes that the beet puree has been premade.
** To make the beet puree: scrub beets in the sink. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil on low until soft (about an hour depending on the size). Remove from water and let cool. Slide the skin off. Blend in a food processor or blender.