Staying focused is more difficult than ever before. Cell phones and electronic devices vibrate incessantly with incoming mail, text messages, and alarms, all while the Internet and its Youtube, Wikipedia, and Buzzfeed rabbit holes serve as an ever-present distraction. Even the “business-related” media like Facebook and LinkedIn have endless opportunities to draw your attention away from what is truly important in your workday.
What’s a businessperson to do?
Like many others I find myself unable to avoid these diversions. However, I know that to continually satisfy customers and attend to the multiplicity of things required to keep my business going, I must stay focused.
Here are three of the ways I stay focused and maintain optimal productivity:
I shut down my technology (Gasp!)
When in the midst of a big project or a task that demands my full attention, I erase any and all avoidable distractions. That includes checking my email, trolling the Internet, or anything else that will draw my focus away from what I must accomplish. Let’s not kid ourselves: the Internet is an amazing asset in our lives; yet it can also eat away valuable time that we absolutely can’t afford to lose. My advice is to establish “sacred time” during which you eliminate these interruptions. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
I make a list and check it throughout the day
I like lists. They help me to remember exactly what I need to do so I won’t worry about forgetting something important. The tasks are numbered, and when one is completed it gets crossed off. (And what a feeling of accomplishment!) I happen to use old-fashioned paper and pen, but there are many digital apps that do the same thing. The key is to refer to the list throughout the day to ensure you are on track to finish what you have planned for the day. If something unforeseen or of higher priority comes up, push the other tasks to another day. That is what the daily To Do list is for, to see what remains to be accomplished in black and white.
I take regular breaks
I work very hard for long hours, and sometimes it is difficult to carve out time for a mental break. But when I do I find that I am all the more productive when I return to the task at hand. Breaks are important for so many reasons. They clear your head, rejuvenate and revitalize, and give you some time for creative thought. 10-15 minutes seem too long? 5 minutes will suffice so long as you spread them out during the day. A flat out work marathon can undermine your focus and productivity for the long haul.
The truth is that we will never be able to entirely eliminate distractions. What we must do is learn how to control them and mitigate their consequences. Use these tips to stay focused and productive, because your business depends on it.