Entrepreneurs know how to get things done. However, the ongoing flow of creativity and innovation that comes with running a business can get overwhelming. There are constant distractions and demands. Essentially, this can be a challenge. As a client described recently “I’m working all day but don’t feel that I’m getting anywhere.” Given that, here is how to stay focused as an entrepreneur.
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But first, know thyself
Although it’s helpful to get inspired by stories from successful CEOs, know thyself. What works for one person may not fit your lifestyle, or priorities. For example, advice to get up at 5am to eat that frog may not work for you. Because your business hours means your bedtime is 1am. Or you are a night owl, and do your best work in the evening hours. Therefore, the most important thing is to know your own cycle and routines, and adjust accordingly to make these strategies work for you.
1. Stay fit and healthy
Nothing boosts focus like wellness. Exercise boosts endorphins. And when we are dehydrated, brain function declines. Staying fit and healthy ensures that you are focused, and not foggy. So get lots of sleep, eat well, and move every day. This optimizes your health and boosts your ability to focus.
2. Streamline workflows
Next, take a look at all your communication channels and organizing tools. Look for ways to simplify and streamline. For example, say there is one software to monitor projects with contractors, and another platform for staff. Flipping between platforms, emails, and lists is time wasted. More importantly, it’s hard to focus when there are so many sources of information coming at you. So streamline workflows. Consolidate lists and project planning into one method.
3. Be realistic
Though to-do lists are valuable, they do have downsides. When Monday is stacked with dozens of tasks that can’t be possibly done in one day, it’s easy to get off track. Because then the schedule on Tuesday is overflowing with unfinished Monday tasks. And so on and so on, all through the week. This is overwhelming, and stressful. Subsequently, focus is pulled to the weight of the task list and the lack of clarity. Which takes away from actually getting things done.
This is one strategy for how to stay focused as an entrepreneur. Be realistic about the time available each day, and the time required to complete tasks. It is better to set 2-3 goals for the week. This gives your brain less to think about, which increases focus.
4. Be structured
Generally, entrepreneurs work on 4 groups of tasks: operational, tactical, administrative, and strategic. Clearly, it’s necessary to manage clients, staff, and suppliers. But without a structured schedule, this can consume the whole workday. For example, a client told me he jumps onto email at 8am. By the time he wraps up delegating, responding, and directing operational and administrative tasks, it’s 2pm. And he is tired, with no energy to do the projects required to execute strategies to grow his business. So create a space in your schedule to focus on the projects, planning, and decision making that matter to you. Make the time to have the time to dedicate to working on your business.
5. Eliminate distractions
Obviously, distractions break our focus. But you may be surprised at the small distractions which are getting in the way of being highly productive. So when you head into a block of focused work time, turn off notifications on phones and laptops. Mark the time in your calendar and tell family and staff that you are working. Be in a place where you won’t be interrupted. If you can’t get that at home or in the office, find somewhere else. Go to a coffee shop or library. My favourite way to block time and create space to focus is to join a FlowClub session. Then I’m online with people from around the world who are also looking to clear distractions and focus on tasks. There are sessions all day, every day. Also, there are options to personalize the experience. Choose from a pomodoro format that builds in breaks, which is known to boost focus. Pick time blocks of 60, 90, 120, or 180 minutes.
6. Stop multitasking
We’ve all done it – thinking that we’ll get stuff done faster if we do them together. You may have heard that science says otherwise. Studies show that multitasking tires the brain and leads to more mistakes. Actually, multitasking just dilutes the brain’s ability to concentrate. Juggling many tasks at once does not allow for full focus and attention.
It takes effort to change habits and routines. Streamlining workflows and consolidating productivity tools takes time. But these are important strategies for how to stay focused as an entrepreneur. In the long term, it will allow you to be more effective and reach your goals faster. For a real game changer, check out Flow Club. Enjoy space to focus and a sense of community from accountability partners. I’m there most days, and I even host sessions. Come join me in the Flow!