You would not be reading this if you didn’t have ambition.
You would be watching Hanna Hart over on My Drunk Kitchen and learning how to make whoopie pies. Instead, you’re reading about business and “doing the right thing”. Even though I know you want to check it out …
That’s how easy it is to become unfocused. One tiny mention of something interesting (odd, strange, controversial or unexpected) sends you down YouTube’s rabbit hole for the next three hours.
Although I’m half-joking about Drunk Kitchen, it’s a good point. It’s estimated that workers lose an average of two hours per day to distractions. But the only way for you to reach your goals is to choose tools and habits that will help you get your daily tasks done faster and more effective.
#1. Start Tracking Your Faults
Let’s say your goal is to create all new sales copy and upgrade your eCommerce system by the end of the year. That’s a huge goal and will take a lot of work and focus. I mentioned distractions as an issue, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a lot that goes into a healthy and productive workday. And only you know your biggest faults. Perhaps you stay up too late watching Jimmy Fallon or you never finish reading business books on your must-read list. Achieving your goals is a balance between your personal and professional life and both matter. So take an honest look at a few of your bad habits and make a plan to improve them.
You can certainly try to wing it or you could start using an app like Strides. It’s a free app that has templates and customizable trackers. I track breaks and make sure I don’t sit at the computer for an hour without getting up. I don’t get headaches the way I used to and it helps me focus each chunk of time on one task. It’s a simple tweak that makes a big impact in the long run.
#2. Switch to All-in-One-Tools
Half the battle of reaching your goals is finding the right tool for the right job. In 10 Simple Habits to Transform Your Business in 2016, I shared the following:
“The internet is an amazing thing. It’s also challenging and overwhelming. Learning a new skill or trying something new can simply be a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be. Instead, choose tools that are easy to learn and utilize.”
Social media management would be easy if your business was only one one platform. Add a few different sites and it can be overwhelming. Plus, social media marketing only works if you post consistently and your users are engaged. That’s a ton of analytics to see and it’s time-consuming to jump from platform to platform.
Instead, use a service like Buffer, that does a lot more than schedule posts. You can also see analytics from every social media platform and see what’s working and what’s not. It’s easy, fast, and very simple to use.
#3. Choose Projects That Aren’t Time Suckers
Not all your business projects are created equal. Some are easy and don’t take much time or energy. And then there are the ones that suck up all your valuable time.
In his entrepreneur’s online course guide, marketing expert Neil Patel shares a story of how Len Smith creates (and makes crazy profits from!) his courses:
“When Smith started adding a little more time to promotion, his course income jumped to $6,500 a month. It takes Smith about 40 hours to make a course initially, but after that, he spends only ten hours a week on its maintenance and marketing.”
Some business owners tend to lose focus after a few months of time-intensive work, even if it’s something they like. If this sounds like you, start choosing projects that take a lot of time in the beginning but slow down considerably once they are launched.
#4. Turn Off Your Phone and Put It Away
Life is getting weird when a study showed that mobile separation anxiety is real and that:
“Smartphone users who were unable to answer their phones not only felt anxiety, but the ringing itself interfered with their ability to think and complete tasks.”
There’s even a new acronym called FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” Not only does FOMO create awkward dating moments, it also creates yet another unneeded distraction from your workday. It’s not even enough to turn off your phone – you have to put it where you can’t see it.
Perhaps this sounds drastic, but checking notifications all day long will certainly interfere with your goals. I’m not suggesting you ignore your phone all day. Just put it away long enough so you can get some goal-driven work done every single day.
#5. Find Quality (and cheap!) Outsourcing
One of the quickest ways to achieving your ambitious goals is to get help. And that doesn’t mean you need a partner or need to hire an entire team. Instead, figure out a way to outsource everything you’re not good at or don’t have time for.
No one has all the skills to do everything in their business. Sometimes we have to wing it because we have a DIY budget only. And that’s cool because we’re learning as we go and can use those skills in the future. But some stuff should only be outsourced because you’re never going to be good at everything.
For example, let’s say you need an infographic. There was a time when low-budget outsourcing was frowned upon. It was seen as exploitative with only low-quality work. Yet, sites like Fiverr have come a long way from the $5 gig economy. Fiverr sellers now offer premium services like this I Will Design Amazing Infographics For You option:
Ask yourself if a task is worth your time, effort (and maybe sanity!). If the answer is no, find someone else to do it for you.
Learn to Focus Or Forget It
You have a goal. There may be many paths towards achieving that goal, but it’s probably wasting time Pinning craft projects you’ll never do. Like beer bottle tiki torches.
We live in a world where everyone wants your focus. Spend five minutes online and you could be distracted by marketers, memes and must-have lists. These interruptions are not going to stop anytime soon so it’s up to you to create a plan that helps you get more work done and moves you towards your goals every single day.
Plus, creating discipline in your workday will give you more time to spend on whatever weird obsession keeps interrupting your valuable work day.