Here’s the scenario. . . you said you would work on a specific project for the next hour. You even set a timer!
But then the message alert dings on your phone, and you quickly answer the question someone asked about an upcoming event you have planned.
You get back to work on your project, but then you remember you need to answer an email that a potential client sent you late yesterday afternoon, so you open up your email account and quickly answer the inquiry.
After that, you go back to your project for a few minutes more and decide that the area around your desk needs to be cleaned up, so you take a few minutes to straighten it.
You return to work on your project, and your alarm rings that the hour is over. You think, “where did the time go?”
What I just described as you being busy but unproductive in your business? You sit down with the best intentions but find yourself not accomplishing things as you thought you would.
We’re going to look at three things to avoid distractions and stay focused:
- Get productive and not just stay busy.
- Keep motivated, and do not lose concentration.
- Stop distractions, stay consistent, and get more accomplished.
Prefer video? Check this out.
Busy but not productive
Focus, planning, routine. What do you feel when I say these words? Do you wish you had more focus on your business? Have you thought you need to do more planning to get more done? Do you recognize that a better routine can make you more productive?
The scenario I opened with came from an actual situation with a client. We have a co-working time each week inside a zoom room. In every session, we each ‘set our intentions’ of what we will do and say them aloud to the others in the room.
We then come back together at the end of the hour to discuss what got accomplished and celebrate progress. It is VERY motivating! This client, let’s call her Susan, complained during one session that she didn’t finish what she said she wanted to accomplish during the time frame.
I asked her what had happened. She then proceeded to list all the things she allowed to distract her. The alerts, the thoughts, the environment. (This incident is actually what inspired this blog.)
So how can you get productive and not just stay busy? Susan was busy with her business the entire hour but wasn’t productive. This is where we talk about the word FOCUS.
Focus for consistency
Where there is the focus, there is direction. Susan’s problem was that you had great intentions but allowed the ‘squirrel brain’ to take over. Focus requires that you ignore everything else that may be going on for the amount of time you have purposed.
Here are some efficient ways to avoid distractions and stay focused during work.
First, turn off or silence all the alerts, dings, and pop-ups that generally come from your phone or computer. You do not have to answer everyone the second a message comes through. Actually, it is more professional if you don’t.
Second, have a sticky note or notepad at your side. If an intrusive thought comes in, you remember something you have to do, or an idea pops into your head, write it down on the paper and let it go. You now have it recorded, and your brain doesn’t have to think about it anymore.
Third, ignore your environment. Not all your papers do not have to be filed, your pens are in the holder, or your floor needs to be vacuumed. Instead, focus on the task at hand. Write a time in your calendar when you will clean up the space and stick to doing it at that time.
These ideas are just a start. Do you have other ‘distractions’ that you need a remedy for? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see if I have a solution for you.
Respond instead of reacting
There are many moving pieces to your business. Giving yourself focused time to complete or progress on a project that you know will serve your clients, get more potential clients to know you, and lead to more sales is more critical to your business than just trying to keep up with the everyday demands. Start to be more responsive than reactive in your business. Take more control of your business by determining when you will do what needs to be done.
Planning brings motivation and consistency
That leads us to. . . how do you keep motivated and not lose concentration? Since that first session, Susan has gotten better at using her time wisely when we have co-working each week. She has done that by having a PLAN.
By creating a plan, you give yourself the best advantage of accomplishing the goal, the project, and what you said you would do. Of course, many of your projects will probably take more than one focus session. That’s okay.
You stay motivated as you complete each part of the plan. And if you find yourself not able to concentrate during your focus session, it may be the plan needs adjusting.
Suppose you’re thinking, “how will I get this done in this amount of time?” You may have bitten off more than you can chew (so to speak) for that session. It is not about working harder or faster; it is about learning how much you can actually accomplish in one session.
Slow and steady wins the race
Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Slow and steady work will get your goals accomplished, your projects completed, and your business growing.
I have found that 8-weeks of planning is a great way to break down projects into bite-sized pieces. It is not overwhelming when you know the piece you will work on. And when you finish it, you’re motivated to do the next piece.
Click HERE to see the video where I explain how to ‘Deconstruct the Hamburger’ by showing you how to break down a project into those bite-sized pieces.
We are doing the co-working for 8 weeks. No surprise there. In 8 weeks, many pieces can be checked off and completed.
Why not 12 weeks, an entire quarter? This has been my experience. . . I don’t know if it is because I am a woman, a mom, someone who has household responsibilities, or what, but when I tried to work within the framework of an entire quarter, the last four weeks were always off because of what happened in the first 8-weeks of the quarter.
I decided to work within the 8-week framework, which has proven to be my best way to stay focused, productive, and motivated.
Consistency comes with routine
The last thing I want to answer here is. . . how do you avoid distractions and stay focused to stay consistent, and get more accomplished?
We’ve looked at short-term ways to avoid distractions and stay focused, and we also talked about staying consistent and motivated with a plan. Now let’s talk about how that translates into getting more accomplished.
The word here is ROUTINE. I think this is one of my favorite words for business. All successful people have a routine! The trick is to create a routine that works for you and your lifestyle. You cannot follow someone else’s routine and expect the same results.
Let me back up a minute here, though. You need to have some of the same elements as successful people to be successful, but they do not have to be done the same way. For example, the more you can create routines for yourself, the more you train your brain to avoid distractions and stay focused and help you concentrate so you can be more productive.
Routines become automatic
Sounds like a miracle, right? In some ways, it is. When you create a routine, you know what you will do and when you will do it. It becomes almost automatic. This frees your brain for more creativity and gives it what it needs, rest.
Your brain is always looking for ways to save energy. I call it the CFO (chief financial officer) of your body. If you do not give your brain time to rest and recharge, it will shut down on you. For example, have you ever tried to work on a project, and it seems like you are pulling teeth to get it done? That’s your brain saying it has had enough.
A routine that includes breaks is only the first step. When you have a routine and plan how much you can accomplish in one day, you don’t feel guilty for not getting all the other things done. Your routine dictates what will happen on any given day.
There is power in routine.
This doesn’t mean each day looks exactly the same. It means you have dedicated work, play, relaxation, and responsibility time. These ‘times’ go with your design and your life. Your routine also changes as circumstances in your life change.
Since I no longer have children in the house, my daily routine revolves more around how I am designed. However, since I am a morning person, there are specific tasks, like writing, I always do first when my brain is at its best.
I have a tool that can help you brainstorm through everything you are doing and decide what you want your weekly and daily routine to look like. Click HERE for the Simplify Your Day download and start constructing your perfect routine.
Start with small steps to avoid distractions and stay focused
How are you feeling at this point? You may be saying, “I can’t do this,” “You just don’t know how chaotic things are,” or “I’ve never been able to work this way.”
Let’s reframe your thoughts for a minute. Say, “I have never put focus, planning, and routine into my business before, BUT I can start small by just setting a timer for one hour and working on something waiting to get done.”
Just start with something small to avoid distractions and stay focused that has been sitting on the ‘back-burner’ of your business.
I would LOVE to hear about what you are going to work on. Let me know in the comments.
P.S. Are you still feeling stuck? Not knowing how to get out of the place you are in your business? Please make an appointment to chat with me. The call is free, and there is no obligation. Let’s see if I’m the one to get you focused, motivated, and consistent in your God-centered business.
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