How do you remain productive, when there are so many distractions in the modern office and online? How do you stay focused when there are so many things to think about in your business?
Keep your master plan and your to-do list separate
With multiple projects, tasks and jobs on the go, it can be overwhelming looking at a giant list of must do’s, should do’s and want to do’s, and paralysing to know what to do next.
Do capture your ideas and projects in some form of brain dump or business plan, but work from a simpler, shorter to-do list each day.
Make sure your to-do list is doable, impactful and short, so you can attack it with absolute focus and commitment. Completing a small number of things that matter is far more impactful than starting a thousand things and finishing none.
Do email when you choose
Turn email notifications off, and turn your email program off when you’re not using it, instead of leaving it on in the background. Choose to process your emails at times that are convenient for you, rather than whenever they happen to arrive.
Manage distractions, not time
Time without attention is useless. It may feel like you need more time, but the real battle is for more attention.
With open offices and open communication channels on the go 24/7, it’s easy to find yourself being continually interrupted and distracted. A study of Microsoft workers found that when working on something that required a significant level of focus, it took an average of 15 minutes to recover attention from a one-minute interruption.
How many times do you get interrupted in your working day? How much of your time and attention is that stealing?
Know your peak energy times and make good use of them
Match your peak energy times to the tasks that require your full focus and energy, and let the rest of the work fit in around those times.
If you’re a morning person, don’t let email or social media hijack your brain before you’ve had a chance to check in with yourself. Reserve the first hour of the day for what’s important to you, or get your most important thing done first, before you check in with the rest of the world.
Equally, if mornings are not your best time, use them to deal with the bitty things that don’t require as much brain power, leaving the afternoon clear for mental heavy lifting.
Schedule meetings for one
Give yourself thinking time. Take time out of the day-to-day to work on your business rather than just in your business. Take time to distinguish between the action that moves your business forward and activity that keeps you busy. Take stock, review where everything is up to, what’s on track, and where your business is heading. Time to be the boss.
This valuable thinking time allows you to plan your week more proactively and make clear decisions about where you spend your time and resources.
Imperfect action beats perfect inaction every time
When you are your own boss, you can be your own harshest critic. Have high standards, yes, but don’t let those standards stop you from taking action, taking risks and getting things done and delivered – because only when it’s delivered does it add value.
Invest time in you
Time away from the business isn’t a luxury. Nor is it unproductive or dead time. If it recharges your batteries, increases your capacity and gets you operating at the top of your game, it’s absolutely productive.