Is it distracting out here or what?
Thank goodness the election’s over, right? Sheesh. But still, we’ve got the economy yet to hit bottom, banks still needing money (I guess to keep lobbying…), more banks needing money and now more countries needing money. Some of our mortgages are so under water they’re surfacing in China. And they’re sinking China judging by China’s own need for bailing out their economy. We’ve got a couple of wars going on. And Christmas is coming around the corner, though I haven’t seen any ads yet. (That’s something to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving.)
And then there’s college football, pro football is interesting now. NBA just started and college basketball starts in a couple of weeks.
And I’ve lost track of Britney, Lindsay, Paris, those skinny twins…
And then there’s this social media thing with blogs, twitter, YouTube, Utterli, Blip.fm, microblogs, podcasts, tumblr, squidoo, online social communities. There’s ning and rss feeds and news alerts. There’s viddler, oovoo, hulo…something, there’s plurk and twhirl and friendfeed, facebook and myspace, emails…(And I’m too distracted to link to any of them. You’ll have to…google all of them. That’s more distraction for you. You’re welcome.)
Oh. And did you say you’re running a business with meetings and reports and challenges. Did we say challenges? What are you doing to keep your employees informed? Your customers informed? And how are you keeping cash-flows flowing…THAT way…and where’s the new product coming out. What’s happening with that employee? Did you miss that meeting? Of course you did, you’re reading this post. Innovation, anyone? No? Ok. Well, did you notice your marketing budget, plan, thingy isn’t working and your CMO keeps talking in vaguer and vaguer terms and he hasn’t kept a meeting with you, in the past 3 months, which coincidentally is a shorter period than the period of declining results from his marketing efforts.
No? You’re too distracted.
Now, that I’ve described in less than 500 words a day in your life and your life is similar to mine and millions of others….let me share some tips with you that I’ve found (if followed…) help me stay focused. Focus, please.
1. Plan Ahead – daily. I plan each day the night before. It’s a simple plan. 3-5 things I want to get done that next day. 1-2 lines each. I usually handwrite it in a notebook.
2. Plan Ahead – weekly. I plan each week, too. I update it every 3-4 days. I review the results each week to make sure nothing’s dropped and to plan for the next week.
3. Go to bed early. Seriously. It’s a marathon we’re running here, people. A rested mind and body are a clear and energetic and positive and consistent pair of tools to work with. All other tools effectiveness depends on these two working together. They work better, and better together, when rested.
4. Eat lunch. Seriously. It’s the peak period for digestive power. It settles the morning’s frenzy. You think calmer on a full belly. Patience is higher there, too. You also sleep better with a big lunch and a light dinner. See previous point.
5. Go home on time. Too many problems arise from a tired mind. Go home, kiss the spouse, play with the kids. Be happy. Relax. There’s when the solutions start popping up. Problems tend to vanish when they’re not fed with our attention. In their place, come solutions.
6. Exercise. For goodness sakes, exercise. A. Do it because it’s healthy. B. Do it because you want to see your kids grow up. C. Do it because the brain works better in coordination with the body and some adrenaline. I’m talking 30-45 minutes on a regular basis giving the effort you can. Some days I run hills. Other days, I walk those same hills. I call it a run either way. I take what the body gives.
6. Read email once a day. Do us all a favor. Stop encouraging us to send email. If it’s important, people call. Or they’ll IM you.
7. Don’t reply to emails immediately. Wait. Either you’ll sense it’s urgency or you won’t. If you do, then you’ve had time to prepare a more thoughtful response. If it’s not, you haven’t wasted time.
8. Put your phone on DND. Turn off your cellphone. Not all day, just for an hour or two.
9. Block your time. Work on a project for 30 minutes. Then move to the next project. A. it keeps your mind fresh. B. you’re making progress, albeit in baby steps, but still progress. C. you’re not creating imaginary obstacle in your head. D. instead you’re systemticall, consistently, breaking down big projects into little 30-mnute projects.
10. Take a break regularly. Breaks keep my mind fresh.
12. Treat Twitter the way you treat email. Hit it, then turn it off. Focus your tweets on adding value. (I’m still learning that one.)
13. Create DND periods for your self. Tell your staff/family not to disturb you for an hour. Interruptions are not innovations. And soon, you’ll find they’re more self-reliant and you’re more productive. That self-reliancy thing you’ll see develop makes them more valuable to you and to themselves.
14. Keep a routine. Whatever it is, keep it. It frees the mind to focus on more important things.
15. Seek help. Yes. That’s right. You need help, my friend. Join a peer advisory board. The best are the Tab Boards and Peersight Online.
16. Buy a faster computer. There are great deals out there, now. And faster computers gets more done, faster. That makes you happy. A happy you makes your family happy.
17. Take an offline weekend. Don’t read email, don’t read blogs, don’t answer your cellphone, don’t skype or twitter. Turn it off. I’m always surprised at the solutions and ideas that come at the end of one of these.
18. Tell your spouse you love them. There’s something about doing that that just makes me more focused. Maybe it’s the contentment of making her smile. I don’t know. Try it. Tell me I’m wrong. And tell your kids, too. Your pets, too, for that matter. ( Tell them you love them, not that I’m wrong.)
19. Pick one or two of these. Try them for a week. See what happens. Adjust them to fit your needs.
Confession: Some of these I do very regularly, some pretty often. Some are on lists of others and after I read those others’ lists, I realized I was doing them, too. (Pretty cool.) These aren’t exclusive to me. They’re just what I realized work for me, when I do them.
I blogged a list of Tip to Stay Focused in Tough Times. (Disclaimer: it’s a shameless self-promotion. But…I’m focused. )
Anyway. We’ve got to go. Too many things to do: meetings, reports, problems to solve, twitters to tweet, utters to utterli, tumbles to tumblr, stumbles to stumbleupon, delicious, facebook, gmail, linkedIn, change my status or a tree will fall in the forest and no one will be there to witness it….
Oh wait. Now, we can focus. Ahhhh. Life is simpler, life is good.
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About the author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operationsÃ excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited. Zanes blog can be found at Zane Safrit.