A thriving small business is most often a buzzing hive of things and people. It can take a lot of focus and careful management of your time and tasks just to stay on top of the obligations you need to meet – and that’s before you take some of the most common distractions that pull your attention away one item at a time. Improve your focus with these tips on how to beat the distractions that bedevil you!
If you know you have a few things that need doing, or if newly “urgent” items keep popping up in the middle of an existing task, it can be all too easy to begin wandering between them, never quite focusing on finishing one off entirely and with the focus it deserves. Structuring your time ahead of time can help with this common time-waster. Block the time off in writing, on your calendar, for each specific task – and commit to it. Tell others that you’re unavailable [save for emergencies, of course] during any given block, until you’ve completed the task at hand. This will keep you focused and prevent outside inquiries from distracting you away from what you really need to prioritize.
Find Chances to Delegate
It’s not always the case that you have to take everything on to your own task list in order to get it done right. By delegating tasks effectively to those you work with or employ, you can effectively clear up more space in your own schedule, removing items that may distract you from the most important things in your queue. Delegating effectively will allow you to evaluate others, and will create opportunities to build mutual trust within your business.
Eliminate Digital Anxiety
Digital tools have revolutionized our ability to be productive, to be informed, and to reach customers in novel ways. However, as anyone who’s heard a phone go off in the middle of a film can attest, they can be a huge distraction. Updates from your website, marketing, social, e-commerce, and other online tools may continuously intrude on your time. Fortunately, you can choose to disable or unsubscribe from many of the alerts and/or spam messages that otherwise valuable services send to you on an all too regular basis. Monitoring the success of your digital strategies is important to know how to improve your business, but don’t let digital anxiety compel you to check and re-check a social media post, advertisement, or comment thread for changes just because you have access to that information from your pocket. Rely on weekly, or monthly, digests of information that you can download and review at a scheduled time.
Manage Your Bills Automatically
One of the major impediments to cash flow for a small business is being late on bills, or having customers who are lax in paying invoices that you are owed. This distraction is not only unhealthy for your productivity, it’s taking a bite out of your profitability directly. You can set up automation for recurring bills, and encourage your clients to do the same. This will save you the time spent managing money transfers or other payments at critical moments each month.
These are just a few of the major distractions that can erode your productivity over time. Every business – and every business owner – is different, and so too are the kinds of things that may trip you up or take up valuable time. Take a moment to think about what’s distracting you the most, and what it could be costing you. Making some small but important changes to your management style may make a huge difference in the long run.