If you’re someone who is easily distracted, you’re not alone.  Whether you work from home or commute to an office, most workplaces are breeding grounds for diversions.  The good news is that eliminating these distractions can be as simple as turning off your cell phone.  Read on for a step-by-step guide to focus yourself and become more productive, two essential characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.

  1. Organize your work space.  Nothing promotes efficiency like a neat, tidy, and organized office, cubicle, or desk.  Create an organizational system that is suited to your business and style, and make sure everything is put away at the end of your work day.  You will then be able to dive right in tomorrow without the added task of finding what you need in a pile of papers or mis-labeled files.
  2. Break down goals into smaller benchmarks.  Most of your goals involve multiple steps that need to be done over a longer period of time.  For example, re-designing your website can seem like such a monstrous task that we don’t know where to begin…so we never do.  When writing down your goals, break them down into smaller, manageable tasks that can be completed in a few hours.  You will be finishing them regularly and you will know that you are on the path to overall goal achievement, which can be an incredibly motivating factor.
  3. Prioritize.  There are so many possible tasks to be working on over the course of any given day, so by prioritizing them, you relieve the pressure of having to complete every single one.  Identify just a few important and/or time-sensitive tasks and forget the rest.  Once your work is completed, revisit the list and prioritize again for the next day.
  4. Say goodbye to distractions.  A ringing cell phone, the high-pitched text message alert, the ping of the email notification, your multiple social networking profiles, your instant message window…these are all  taking time away from your task at hand.  Yes, those things need to be attended to, but silence that phone or disable the internet connection while working on other things.  Schedule a specific time during your work day that is dedicated only to catching up on email correspondence, for example, or checking how many times your blog link was retweeted.  Knowing that this time is earmarked, you won’t stress out about how many messages you may be missing while you go about your day.
  5. Give yourself a break.  Our brains use lots of energy while we work, so it’s important to take even a quick break every 60-90 minutes of continuous work.  Have a healthy snack, get up and stretch your legs, or listen to your favorite song.  Anything that helps you recharge will be a valuable asset to your stamina, which is crucial to continuous productivity.

Getting productive and staying that way certainly takes a large amount of self-discipline.  You most likely already have that in you as a small business owner.  Embrace your strengths and use them to make the most of your precious time. How to you focus yourself every day?  Please share your suggestions in the comments below!

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