Small-business owners are continually bombarded by information. When is the last time you were able to spend one hour working without a single interruption? It’s unlikely that you can think of one, unless you were working at 3 a.m.
Even if you escape to a local coffee house for the day, you can’t avoid distractions. E-mails reach our inboxes 24 hours a day. Instant messages can come in at any hour. Facebook news feeds are continuously available. News alerts, bulletins and text messages call for focus.
All of these distractions dilute our focus on the success of the business. Eventually, the distractions consume your productive time and can destroy your business. For the most part, they won’t generate more cash—the lifeblood of your company.
It’s very easy to say to yourself, “OK, focus. No problem.” But it’s quite another to live this way. It’s a daily discipline that requires concerted effort. You must feed this discipline for it to grow within you and forcibly squeeze out the non-productive distractions in your business life.
So what steps can you take to eliminate distractions?
Think in terms of goals, not tasks
Most small business owners spend their time putting out fires or getting through the daily operational tasks required to run the business. Of course these are important, but someone other than the owner can perform most of them.
If operational tasks consume 100 percent of the owner’s productive time, the business does not grow. Owners need to think strategically. Focus on the goals you want to accomplish for your business, both long-term and short-term. Whether it's opening a second store or developing a more efficient sales process, the owner needs to spend time thinking before doing.
Carve out islands of silence
When it comes to thinking versus doing, it’s the doing that usually wins out. A business needs employees to focus on doing, but that's not what it needs from an owner.
The owner understands the overall goal of the business, where it stands relative to competitors and the different strategies needed to grow. But these ideas can’t mature into plans without the owner first spending time thinking about them.
Carve out an island of silence every day, even if it’s only 30 minutes or one hour, when you spend time thinking. Make this appointment with yourself and never break it.
Limit your daily goals
If you make a to-do list of everything you have pending in your life, both important and unimportant, it's often 100 items or more. Just looking at the list is frustrating, because nobody can accomplish that much. Stop trying to do as much as you can. Stop squeezing 40 hours of work into 12.
It’s not productive because many of the tasks that fill up a to-do list won’t move your business closer to its long-term goal. Focus on achieving just a few key goals that you can accomplish in a day, whether it's one goal or three goals. Regardless of the number, it should be manageable and realistic so you feel a sense of accomplishment when you leave work every day.
Clear your mind, focus on what’s important and eliminate distractions. These are the key steps for putting your business on a path toward growth. If you fail to do this and instead focus on the bombardment of daily distractions, you will destroy your business. Guaranteed.
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