Small Business Articles from Make-it-Fly®
to Help You Stay Focused
Part Two of a Three-Part Series
Key #2: Steer Clear of Distractions
By Victoria Munro
to distractions will divert your focus and steal your
time. In order to steer clear of distractions,
we must be aware of our weaknesses in this area—those
temptations that easily sabotage
our focus. Distractions can be harmless—even
noble—activities. They come in many forms and
may be different for everyone.
Sandra has a kind heart and wants to help everyone. Friends, colleagues and even strangers often turn to her when they have a need. As a talented copywriter building her own business, she often struggles to balance her desire to do pro bono work for others with building her own company.
Distraction: If you’re inclined to want to help
everyone or have difficulty saying “no” to requests
for your time, you’re not alone. Many business owners
deal with this dilemma.
Possible Solution: Evaluate
how much time you can, or feel you should, give each
week or month, and don’t exceed those limits.
Distraction: You can’t run a business without
a phone, but it can be hard to break a reactive habit
of picking up the phone whenever it rings.
Possible Solution: Try designating “phone-free” periods during the day when you allow calls to go into voicemail and return them later. This allows productive blocks of time to focus on important tasks.
Potential Distraction: Email is efficient, but many now find it’s out of control, consuming too much time.
Possible Solution: Close your email program and set two or three times a day to read and respond to email. Then schedule these times into your daily plan.
Distraction: It’s easy to get bogged down with
busywork—the myriad of tasks that need to be done,
but certainly aren’t high priorities.
Possible Solution: Start
each day by clearly defining the one or two most important
tasks you must accomplish. Write them out, post them
in a prominent place and focus on completing these first.
Don’t confuse busyness with productivity!
Distraction: You can probably do most things
in your business very well, but don’t be tempted to
try and do it all yourself.
Possible Solution: Learn to let go and delegate in areas where you are weak. Know your strengths and build on them. Spend the majority of your time working in these areas.
Potential Distraction: Office clutter is a distraction that can fog your focus, divert your attention and waste your time.
Possible Solution: Create an efficient filing system, keep it up to date and then make a habit of putting everything in its place at the end of each day. If necessary, hire someone to help you with this vital task.
Entrepreneurs working from a home
office face additional distractions.
Distraction: TV can become a time-consuming addiction.
Possible Solution: Decide
before watching when you’ll turn it off—and do
Potential Distraction: Family interruptions can cause frustrating distractions that prevent concentration.
Possible Solution: Plan special time with family, but set and keep clear boundaries when you’re working. Share your frustrations with family members and ask for their help and suggestions. Post a sign that indicates when you are working, or close your office door.
Potential Distraction: Working all the time can result in burnout that erodes energy, motivation and focus.
Possible Solution: Post hours of business on your website and announce them in your voicemail message. Don’t answer the phone after hours. Set regular business hours. Get up and dressed early, take care of morning chores, and go to the office (even if it’s across the hall) on time each morning. Take your coffee and morning snack with you to save distracting trips to the kitchen later.
There is Enough Time for What’s Important
We all have a finite number of hours in each day, and
we choose how we spend those hours. When we decide to
do something, by default we are choosing to sacrifice
something else. We must
be selective to stay focused. We must know what’s
important to us, and then recognize and avoid distractions
that get in the way.
© 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
their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,”
and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get
More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics
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