Small Business Articles from Make-it-Fly®
Tips to Keep You Focused
In a World of Distractions
By Victoria Munro
“The person attempting to travel
two roads at once will get nowhere. The superior person
is committed to focus.” – Mencius (Chinese
Your Focus Fitness
Our ability to concentrate and focus is like a muscle
that is strengthened through exercise. Jumping from
one task to the next is less productive. In their book
TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home
@Play, co-authors Drs. Rosen and Weil note that
“Multitasking diminishes your productivity and
makes you work harder just to feel like you are barely
keeping up with all your work.”
2. Beware of Subtle Focus
Worrying thoughts, unrelated to the task at hand, can
creep in and rob your concentration. Suddenly remembering
something you need to do or tell someone can send your
thoughts off at a tangent. Always keep a Conference
Planner or notepad close by. Make a note of your concern
and return promptly to what you were doing.
3. Be Present – It’s
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, develop
a habit of being very present. Notice the details, think
about them – whether in a document you must study
or a visit to a client’s office. Relish the moment
and resist the temptation to let your thoughts wander.
4. Put on the Blinders
The leather flaps attached to a horse's bridle limit
side vision and help him look forward, keeping potential
distractions to a minimum. When you need to concentrate,
eliminate distractions and background noise such as
the radio or TV. Experts tell us that a part of our
brain stays centered on these and lessens our capacity
5. Build in Bonuses
Give yourself rewards when you finish a project –
something you will look forward to and enjoy. Make the
reward equal to the difficulty and length of the task
– it could be your favorite iced latte, an hour
off to stroll around the park or a week’s vacation.
6. Make the Most of Your Prime
Know what time of day or night you’re most productive
and creative. Plan to block out hours during this time
to focus on those tough projects that need your best
7. You’re Not Superman!
Running a small business requires you to wear many different
hats and keep many balls in the air – it can feel
overwhelming. Accept the fact that you simply can’t
do it all. Be willing to let some things go and extend
deadlines when needed. Take time first thing in the
morning or at the end of the day to review your situation
– see it from 30,000 feet. Make note of and prioritize
your top three tasks for the day ahead, keep the list
where you’ll see it, then work through the tasks
8. Limit Interruptions
Constant interruptions will kill any hope of clear focus.
If interruptions are a normal part of your workday,
become proactive and plan ahead to avoid them. Identify
and make plans to eliminate them.
9. Make the Most of Meetings
When planning a meeting, define and focus on the reason
for the event and stick to it. Start and finish on time.
Don’t allow meetings to last longer than necessary
– your time and that of other attendees is valuable.
10. Keep Your Eye on the Carrot
What is your ultimate goal? What does it look like?
How clearly have you defined it? How badly do you want
to achieve it? A crystal-clear long-range goal is like
the proverbial carrot on a stick – the incentive
that keeps the horse trotting forward. Without it, you
can easily become distracted and wander off course,
and waste precious time and resources exploring unnecessary
side trails or lose your focus completely. Keep a laser
focus on your ultimate goal.
© 2005-2007 Victoria Munro.
for printable version.
About the Author: Victoria Munro is
co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly®
LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for
small-business owners through creatively designed programs
and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different
businesses. To receive FREE business success articles
with tips to help you with your business, sign up for
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