Many entrepreneurs and small business owners will tell you that staying focused is one of the biggest hurdles they face. Many will also tell you that focus is the key to success.
Working on your own or as part of a small team, which many entrepreneurs do, especially when starting out, takes a real dedication, self-motivation and steely focus. We all have so much to do, so many tasks to juggle that it’s difficult at times to remain focused on the job in hand.
Do you flit from job to job, never really focusing on one thing at a time?
If I allow myself, I will easily take another look at my emails, or quickly check social media (this is a little bit more allowed for me, as it is my business to keep an eye on social media) and get distracted by what’s going on around you?
Yet, when I make a conscious effort with a clear focus, I make more progress and feel better about the list of tasks I have set.
We can get caught in the trap of wanting to do too much, and if you are anything like me, your head is full of new ideas and things that you want to do. The problem is when you try to do everything, you put less focus into any one task, and your brain is always thinking back to what else you have to do. You often move from one task to another without finishing the first task. Achieving less than you’d like and taking longer.
Here are some tips to help you stay as focused as you can, and helping you achieve more!
- One task at a time.
Concentrate and focus on one task or project at a time. Allow yourself time to finish this task, but don’t move on to something else until this is completed. This way you are focused on one task and will progress a lot faster. Don’t get distracted by emails or social media and be firm with yourself.
- Energy times
Get familiar with when you have the most energy during the day. If you are full of energy first thing after your morning coffee, then now is the time to tackle those large, difficult tasks that need the most effort. The thing you are dreading or putting off- this is the time to get your teeth into it. You can deal with smaller, less taxing tasks like emails or admin at times when you may have an energy slump, so for me, early afternoon. Find what works best for you.
- Chunk your tasks
If you have a really big project or task that you are finding daunting, then break it down into more manageable chunks. So for me, I spend a lot of my days creating content, posting in Facebook groups, scheduling on social media tools, interacting with people on social media. This could all come under the same area, but instead of looking at this as one big task to get done, break it down. So allow an hour for creation, an hour for scheduling and so on. Don’t forget to write it down.
Scheduling your tasks or mini tasks makes you more focused on that particular item, it makes you more accountable if you have written it down somewhere or added it to your planner. If I have scheduled in tasks or even written down what I want to get done today, I am much more likely to get them all done, than if I don’t write them down. With my client work, I have to schedule my diary, to ensure I have left enough time for all my clients. So I work in chunks of time. I know for the week ahead, which client I’ll be working with for each chunk of each day. And when I’ll be working on my own business.
- Accountability Partner
I’m hearing lots about getting an accountability partner lately, and it works really well for so many people. Lots of groups that I’m part of on FB tend to do this too. It works by telling your accountability partner (or group if you prefer), often on a Monday, what you want to achieve for that week, what your goals are and how you plan on achieving them. You then check back in later in the week, to see if you have each reached your goals. You then look at why you have reached them, or why you haven’t. Making yourself more accountable and having to think about your plan, helps keep you focused on what you need to do to get there.
- Go gadget free!
So for many of us, this is impossible. I know I can’t be without my phone, laptop, iMac etc, but again, these are tools for my business, so I’m using them all constantly. If however, you are doing something offline, give yourself some gadget-free time- allowing yourself to concentrate on that task alone, without emails popping up, or your phone going off. You’ll be surprised how much more you can actually fit in and how much more focused you are when you aren’t getting distracted every few minutes!
- Close extra tabs & windows
This one really helps me stay focused on the tasks at hand. I often use the same programs each day, but if I’m not using them for the task at hand, I can be tempted to quickly take a look at my web traffic today or how many new opt-in’s I’ve had in my MailChimp account etc. Just leave the tabs or windows open that you need open for your task or project and close the rest!
- Exercise or get outside
A lot can be said for a brisk walk outside to clear your mind and get you in the right frame of mind for focusing back down on your task in hand. Take some deep breaths, take a few minutes and come back refreshed, ready to get started on the task!
- Stay motivated & inspired
Again this one really helps me stay focused. When I am feeling inspired and motivated, I feel like I can do anything. I know what I need to do, like write a blog post, and if I am feeling motivated, then I’m more likely to start, stay focused and finish the blog post. In turn, this makes me feel more motivated as I’m pleased I’ve achieved what I said I would. What makes you feel motivated & inspired? Reading inspirational books or blogs? Keeping Inspirational quotes and affirmations around you? Remembering your why? Whatever works for you!
- Keep two to-do lists
This is something I am definitely going to try.
You know when you are busy working away and something pops into your head….
’I must pick up something for dinner’,
‘don’t forget to pack the kids football stuff’,
‘did I wash that dress I need for the weekend, oh and I need to book the restaurant’.
Write them down on one big to-do list. Your actual work related tasks can go on the list too- but instead of trying to do all these things at the same time, stay focused on the one task you are doing now- or keep a second list- with just the next 3 tasks you are going to achieve written on them. Keep the first, full list out of sight, so you don’t get distracted by it. When you have completed your big task or the 3 mini-tasks that you have added to your 2nd list, now you can add something else. This will help keep you focused, without you forgetting all the other little things that as a busy person (and often parent!) we need to do too!
I hope you like these tips to help keep you focused. Let me know what your favourite tips are to keep you focused.