Staying focused and blocking out distractions is easier said than done. In addition to the myriad of requests, messages and tasks that have to be handled each day, you also have to fight against your own bad habits and tendencies. Figuring out what works for you can be a process of trial and error, OR you can adopt strategies that are tried and true.
Following are 3 valuable tips on how to replace time-wasting activities with new habits that will empower you to be more productive, more focused and more effective during your work day:
1. Find your most productive time of day.
Many small business owners fail to know their most productive time of day. That is the time when you think clearly and sharply. You’re in a "zone" that enables you get twice as much work done. You really need to honor such moments instead filling that time with non-revenue generating tasks such as:
Updating social media websites
Mindlessly surfing the Internet
Be sure to avoid all time-stealing activities. Find that sweet spot in your day and make it sacred. Cut out everything that will distract you. Get into your zone each day and pulverize the important tasks that will help you to strengthen your business. (You already know what these tasks are. Just do them!) Use your "in the zone" time or sweet spot for things that must get completed.
2. Trick yourself into working when you don't want to.
Another name for not working when you know you should is "procrastination." A few reasons for this are:
You feel overwhelmed by an intimidating task
You’re about to tackle the "boring" part of your project
You really, really hate what you’re doing
These are manageable if you address them. For example, attack those intimidating tasks head on when you have a good amount of energy. If you find a part of every project boring, then outsource it to someone who finds it to be her favorite part. If you really hate what you are doing, find your passion and pursue it!
A good strategy for dealing with procrastination is to trick yourself. Try this out…
If you don’t want to write that article for your blog, tell yourself, "I'll just write five hundred words." Just start writing, you’ll get into your stride and soar past five hundred words easily.
Plan unpleasant tasks the night before, and get everything you need ready so you can dive in first thing in the morning. Tell yourself, "This morning I’m going to knock out this article! Then I’ll reward myself with a great cup of coffee."
If you feel intimidated by a task, break it down into small components. Focus on completing one step at a time. For example, instead of trying to complete your whole marketing plan in one sitting, just make a list of the strategies that you want to implement. Later, you can focus on another piece of your plan until you complete it.
3. Set realistic expectations.
Many busy entrepreneurs want to do too much in one day. We adopt the custom of miscounting the time that is involved with answering the phone, responding to emails, finding "lost" information and other small things that adds hours to a project. That can cause you to beat yourself up when your tasks are incomplete.
Pre-planning will reduce these mountainous expectations to a normal level – particularly if you combine that with time tracking. (Use a simple time clock program such as Toggl to do this easily.) Try to focus on completing one major priority for work each day.
The three strategies mentioned above will empower you to focus and stay the course with income generating activities. They will also train you to minimize time-wasting activities that lead to procrastination and incomplete tasks.
Be sure to find your most productive work time during the day and honor that time. Trick yourself to eliminate procrastination and set realistic expectations for yourself. Then you will be able to save time, save effort and work less.
Your Action Steps:
- Analyze your day and determine which hours allow you to be "in the zone" for productivity.
- Mark that time on your calendar and make it a special time of day where you do your most important (especially income generating) activities.
- Find rewards for overcoming procrastination and use them!
- Plan your work schedule the day before, so that you can wake up energized to tackle what you need to accomplish.
Sydni Craig-Hart, The Smart Simple Marketing Mentor, is founder of SmartSimpleMarketing.com. Known for her easy, strategic and results-focused approach to marketing, she also has the unique ability to find untapped profit centers in her client's businesses so they can create money NOW.
Visit www.SmartSimpleMarketing.com for your FREE kit, "5 Simple Steps to More Clients, More Visibility and More Freedom" and schedule your FREE "Profit Breakthrough" session with Sydni!