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As an independent and self-directed entrepreneur, you have so many things happening at the same time that it’s hard to stay focused. Being productive entails learning how to focus on certain tasks while setting aside others. If you don’t stay focused, one small interruption can shatter your concentration and sabotage your productivity for the day.
Let’s look at some ways in which the world distracts us and what we can do to stay on track. After all, when you are your own boss, you’re the only person who can help you focus.
Learn What Your Distractions Are
Some people have to deal with distractions as an ordinary part of their working day. Most people have different obligations vying for their attention, but there are only so many hours in a day to get to everything. Most find it hard to multitask (some research even suggests that humans can’t multitask), so it’s best to find the distractions that are stealing from the finite amount of time you have in a day.
Distractions can include anything from your family to information gathering on the internet. Most of the time, distractions are little things that take you away.
One of the largest distractors is social media and news sites. We are constantly bombarded with information 24 hours a day and media streams really don’t care if your productivity suffers. The unfortunate thing is that these types of informational distractions, whether they are breaking news stories or the latest Facebook game app, always present themselves like they are the most important thing going on right now. Most people will need to get over their FOMO (“fear of missing out”) if they want to disengage and get on with their days.
Why Focus Is Paramount to Being Productive
Without focus, it’s very hard to get things done during the day. Imagine that you have a list of things you need to do. Being distracted is like inviting other people to fill your to-do list with irrelevant things. Once we get distracted, our energy is more likely to be depleted and we are less likely to finish the tasks we were supposed to be working on.
Being able to focus selectively on just one task is a learned behavior. Just as you would exercise your muscles at the gym, you’ll likely have to exercise your “focus” muscles. If you don’t practice focusing, there are just too many distractions in the modern age that will tempt you away from your tasks.
That’s not to say that you have to put your nose to the proverbial grindstone every working hour of the day. Once you get better at focusing, you’ll begin to learn that there are different ways to focus according to the task at hand.
For example, brainstorming new ideas for a project will require a more relaxed thought process than burning the midnight oil to finish a project. That’s why it’s important to have the awareness to know which kind of focused attention to deploy according to the task that you need to accomplish.
Ideas for Staying Focused in Life and in Business
Learning how to focus is key to focusing better. Here are a few ideas on how best to start exercising your “focus” muscles.
- Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Set a task that you want to complete right away and do that before checking your messages.
- Turn off your cell phone during certain periods of the day. It helps to be “unreachable” sometimes when you just need to get stuff done.
- Have a routine for getting back on track when you get distracted. Some people like to meditate, while others like to take a walk. Whatever it is, have a reliable way to get back on track when life throws you a curveball.
Focus is important in today’s distracting environment. Practice channeling your attention to what needs to be done rather than allowing the various shiny objects in your environment to dictate your attention. It takes effort to learn how to focus, but it’s definitely a practice worth cultivating. Once you get the hang of it, slipping into a state of focus becomes easier while being distracted becomes less and less of a problem.