Focus is Our Friend.
We all know those tasks: The ones that are tedious, time consuming, and just plain no-fun-at-all. It’s great when you’re able to outsource them, but not so great when you, as the business owner, genuinely need to address them yourself.
I ran into this just a short while ago. I finally got the Business Contact Manager function in Outlook set up. I soon realized that I wanted to do some serious cleaning up of the names I had imported from my regular Outlook address book into the BCM. However, this was a very daunting task, since there were hundreds of names/addresses/e-mails to review for completeness and accuracy.
Since it was clear to me that this was a task I’d be tempted to ignore indefinitely (at the expense of future efficiency), I committed to my accountability buddy that I would clean up the C-through-E names before our check-in call the following day. However, the thought of dragging this chore out for days was so obnoxious that I decided to blitz the task. I started my trusty online stopwatch and totally focused my attention on plowing through the names as quickly as I could. My goal was to clean up the entire alphabet’s worth of names, fast.
How did it go? In one hour, six minutes, and nine seconds, I cleaned up C through Z, got that particular monkey off my back, paved the way for vastly more efficient use of my time in the future, and justified a nice hit of chocolate later that evening.
What are some ways you can keep yourself on task?
- Use a timer. Yes, I know this is repetitious, and that’s because I feel so strongly about it. While I’m a sucker for the online version, any sort of timer is a great way to keep your attention on a task that needs doing.
- Be aware of your activities. I find I’m much more efficient and effective if there’s a part of my attention that looks on, like an outside observer, so I quickly notice when I’ve become distracted by unimportant activities.
- Give yourself a stern talking-to when needed. I’m also a big fan of tough-loving self talk – not the mental kind you hear so much about, but the out-loud version. It sometimes drives my husband nuts to think I’m talking to him, but he tends to shrug and let it go; he knows I get good results by saying to myself, “Okay, Kath, stay focused, let that go, that’s not what needs doing now…”
What steps can you (or do you) take to keep your attention from wandering to non-essential tasks that SQUIRREL!! may be fun but are not going to ultimately make you any more money? How do you manage to ignore all the bright, shiny objects that surround you? And, if you’re not that thrilled about finding answers to these questions, just ask yourself another one: What is lack of focus costing you?
Please note: These are not rhetorical questions! I really want to know, since probably every entrepreneur alive needs to use such focusing tools at least occasionally. Let me know what works for you so I can
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