“With the repositioning of my firm these past three years, I’ve opened up a whole new world of opportunity and I have all sorts of directions I can take,” says marketing and design specialist, Luke Mysse. “But I’ve been lacking that focus I once enjoyed.”
Lack of focus. It’s one of the biggest issues many business owners face on a regular basis. So, what steps can we take to successfully and purposefully reengage ourselves?
The Little Things: Know Your Distractions
Do you ever look back at the end of the day and think, “Where did all my time go today?” Well, you’re not alone! Even the most successful business owners can easily let time slip away if there is a lack of focus.
Track Your Time for a Day
Yes, this exercise takes a little dedication, but it will help you out – just try it! Keep a small notebook with you all day (or use your favorite cell phone app) and track exactly how much time you spend on your daily activities. You may be surprised to realize you spent two hours a day simply returning emails – or you may notice you spent three hours at a business lunch that was only scheduled for an hour. This exercise will help you become more aware of exactly what activities take time out of your busy day.
Create Time Blocks
Try to estimate how much time you spend on specific activities in an entire week, including your favorite time-wasters, like aimlessly surfing the web. Let’s say you estimate that you spend six hours a week returning emails. To keep your focus in check, create a time block (or two) per week, specifically set aside for emailing. When you schedule out a period of time during the week for this activity, you may find it takes less time overall. Why? Because the less time you spend shifting your focus between activities, the better your focus on the activity at hand.
The Big Things: Get Back to Basics
Three Steps Toward Better Focus
- Jot down your highs and lows from the previous month
- Read over your business plan and your short and long-term goals
- Write a quick to do list for next month
“One of my old habits was to debrief at the end of each month,” says Luke Mysse. “I would go to the beach and write a page in my moleskine about the highs and lows of the previous month (both personal and business). Then, I would read through my goals and business plan. Finally, I write a punch list of 5 things for the next month. For example, next month, I want to take an overnight trip somewhere with the family, ride my bike to San Diego and bill a certain amount…I’ve found getting back to basics really helps me find focus again.”
Take Your Whole Life into Account
I know it’s unfair to refer to family and friends as “distractions,” but we all know that our personal lives can be just that, if they interrupt day-to-day business activities. But here’s the news: your family and friends should never be treated as distractions – and they never will be if you make a point to regularly set aside time for your personal activities. It’s never easy to create a healthy work-life balance, but your awareness of your balance (or lack thereof) is often the first step toward better focus on a regular basis.
“Lack of focus is part of what makes us good at what we do – we’re not afraid to let our minds chase new ideas,” says Mysse. “However, this can also turn into a nightmare if it happens too often. It’s why we do need some systems in place in order to manage our wild selves.”
So what do YOU do to get back in focus?