As a small business owner, you’re naturally going to have to keep a lot of balls in the air at any one time. You simply don’t have the luxury of being able to devote entire weeks or months to one specific area of your business. Your average working week is, necessarily, an often frantic scramble across very varied terrain.
In this type of ever-shifting environment, distraction can be an absolute killer in terms of productivity and focus. In order to make the most of your limited time, you’ll simply have to learn how to eliminate distractions and stay on target as often as possible.
With that in mind, let’s step through the three main tips you can use to eliminate distractions as a small business owner.
- Only check emails at scheduled times
Every small business is different and the amount of times you absolutely have to check email may well vary from firm to firm. Regardless of what your actual schedule ends up being, you should be checking email strictly at preset times during the day and not falling into the trap of randomly opening your inbox whenever you’re feeling a dim sense of background unease.
This step alone will shave hours of otherwise wasted time off your week. Ally it to actually triaging the contents of your inbox rather than randomly responding, and a world of unnecessary distractions will start to slip away. What this means is that you actively process your inbox and either write down and schedule next actions or deal with an item immediately. This stops you from working in your inbox and clarifies the list of tasks you are actually trying to do.
- Block social media
For many of you, actively using social media on your primary business account will be an important part of your weekly marketing activities. This is fine as far as it goes, but you have to draw a clear line between business-related social activities and simply goofing off.
In fairness, the temptation to slack here can be immense. However, as a small business owner you are actually in charge of your own schedule. If you’re losing hours a week slacking off with mindless refreshing or idle chit-chat on Facebook, you are literally wasting your own time.
There are various ways you can actually block sites such as Facebook and Twitter on your primary work machine, but really this should come down to a simple matter of willpower. You are an adult trying to make a living; start acting like it and leave the socialising and browsing to your leisure hours.
- Use a time management technique to carve out productive time
Avoiding distraction is substantially easier if you can actually clear distinct blocks of time to focus on particular tasks. These don’t have to huge oceans of time either – the smaller, the better in fact.
One classic ruse to get through your day on target is the Pomodoro technique. Put simply, this involves breaking out 25-minute blocks of uninterrupted time, separated by five minute breaks. The idea is that you are deliberately blocking out all distractions, writing down your primary micro-goal, and going at it hard for 25 minutes. Give it a try and you’ll be astonished by the productivity gains on offer and the freedom from distraction you’ll experience.
Our three points above are far from the only techniques you can employ in the battle against distraction but they very much represent the heavy artillery at your disposal. Give them a try in tandem for at least two weeks and you’ll find a new world of distraction-free productivity opening up in front of you.