Research shows that on a normal day, people are typically interrupted four times each hour. More importantly, when they are interrupted they usually do not go back to the work they were doing before, more so if the work was challenging. In other words, interruptions can keep you from focusing and completing your most important tasks.
If you often wonder ‘where the day has gone’, you are in good company. A majority of solo entrepreneurs feel that there isn’t enough time to complete all their targets for the day.
Distractions are certainly a major time suck even when they seem as though they are important. Here is how you can minimize interferences and stay focused for greater productivity:
According to Peter Bregman, author of In 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done, solopreneurs often suffer from FOMO or Fear of Missing Opportunities. As a result, they end up taking on more projects than they can possibly handle.
Conventional wisdom is that the more work you take on, the more money you will make. But here’s the problem with biting more than you can swallow: you will fail to meet deadlines, you will feel overwhelmed and ultimately, you will make less money.
Learn to say no especially to clients who ask you to complete tasks that are beyond your scope. Just because you turn down a specific opportunity does not mean that you will never find another one that fits your schedule.
Are you doing work that does not appeal to your strengths and passions? You could be wasting precious time and energy and this could take a toll on the performance of your business.
A major reason why people procrastinate is that they want to put off certain tasks as long as possible. But procrastinating does not make the work go away.
It is important to take a good look at your business to determine those tasks that are absolutely necessary and those that are not. If you are spending too much time on non-essentials, get rid of these.
If there are important tasks that need to be completed but they do not appeal to your strengths and passions, delegate or outsource so you can focus on those aspects of the business that you are really good at.
Frequently switching from one task to another causes you to spend more time on completing these tasks compared to focusing on one task at a time. So, what’s the solution?
The only way to keep distraction at bay and to avoid mindless task switching is to identify 20% of your most important tasks. Then, one by one, give them 80 % of your undivided attention.
The key lesson here is to prioritize and then set aside time to focus on just one priority. ‘Single tasking’ will certainly leave you feeling less overwhelmed and ironically, it allows you to accomplish more.
If you are running a business then you need to value your time. If your aim is to be profitable and to grow your business you are not going to achieve that if you are constantly giving advice, guidance, help and 24/7 support to clients for free (unless that is part of an agreed package).
Am I saying that you should not provide an excellent customer or client service? Not at all. Is it important to keep your client’s happy? Of course! But if you don’t value your time then neither will your client’s and you are likely to get more interruptions.
The best way to address this is to have in place a clear set of fees for your business so people know what aspects of your time is payable whether this be for coaching, support, strategy advice or anything else. In addition, this time should be scheduled in, so as not to disrupt the flow of your day. Client’s will respect your time more, you’ll work more effectively, give better advice and assistance and feel better about how you are running your day
How do you choose what is most important to you? After all, as a busy soloprenuer, everything about your business is important.
Peter Bregman suggests that you determine just five things you would like to spend your time on this year. This will force you to set long term and short terms goals, which will act as every day guideposts.
So, set your five long-term goals for the year; these should be the most important things you want to accomplish. This makes it easier for you to create your own daily, weekly and even monthly to do lists around the most important tasks.
Soloprenuership can be a blessing and a curse. Often, it is the former, especially if you learn how to make the most of your time. As Steve Jobs aptly put it, people think focus mean saying yes to everything you have to focus on. However, focus actually means saying no to the hundred other good ideas out there.
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