How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

Today is Q& A day. Today's Question is from Daniel. Daniel asks- "Alli, I know this may sound like a dumb question, but how do I avoid getting distracted? It’s killing my business.  I mean, I know what I want to do with my business, I just seem to have trouble moving forward from what I want to do to actually getting stuff accomplished. Any tips?  (And please don’t say “get organized.” that’s what everyone says!)"

Daniel, that makes me laugh a little because the first thing I thought of saying was, “Get Organized.”  (So, I hope you appreciate my restraint.)

Truth is, I think your question is a very common problem for many people, no matter how far along in the game they are.  Distractions are everywhere.

Case in point, today I lost 20 minutes because a friend texted a link to a video about sloths. Now I love sloths, but I don't have time to watch videos when I should be writing.

That one tiny distraction kept me from getting my work accomplished.  And there are literally hundreds of those moments in our day. Every. Single. Day.

 How Do You Avoid Distractions and Help Your Business?

Whether your blog is your business or it’s the platform for your business, product, or service, there are some practical steps you can and should take to get things accomplished.


Step One: Get Organized

(Sorry Daniel, I threw restraint out the window!) You do need a plan to be successful and to minimize distractions.  Everyone’s plan looks different, but they all have some similarities.  Here’s a great starter list:

1.a Set goals (annually, monthly, weekly, daily) and reverse engineer your to-dos

  • Once you set your goals, use them to create your to-do lists. Here's what I mean by that; use your annual goals to make a monthly goal list, use your monthly list to make a weekly list and then finally a daily list.When you break it down into small pieces it is manageable.
  • Take it step by step and you will be on your way to kicking your to-do lists tail constantly. The thing to be careful about when it comes to goal setting is not to get overwhelmed.  

1.b Set work times that work with your productivity rhythms (if you’re a morning person, work in the mornings, etc.)

  • Create distraction-free environments for your productive work times  (turn off unnecessary screens, email notifications, phone alerts, etc.) Seriously, turn off Hootsuite, Skype and Facebook. Yes, you sitting there looking at your news feed- turn it off. :) 


Step Two: Create an Editorial Calendar

Really, can I tell you how often I say this, and people nod . . . in an “oh-yeah-I –totally-do-that” kind of way, but we both know they don’t.  It’s so basic, and everyone knows they *should * do it, but they don’t. Don’t skip this step.

  • Begin with a blank calendar (electronic or otherwise) and include annual events and important dates that will impact your business/brand/industry/niche (I use a Basecamp calender and I sync it with Gcal so I can access it everywhere.) And here is a handy editorial calendar  WordPress plugin.
  • Create themes for your content that are based on your core business essentials. (Remember to plan for seasons, holidays and special events)
  • Select brilliant content that your readers are telling you they want to hear (Surveys, Facebook questions, etc. are great ways to get this content)
  • Decide when and where you will post this content.  (Remember I said that you want to have content everywhere, not just on your own blog?)


Step Three: Batch Process Similar Tasks

Batch processing is simply organizing and working on similar tasks at the same time. When you group similar tasks, it also collects those tasks into one area of your brain and creates a super computer in your head.  (Your brain likes organization.  Here's research that will make you stop multitasking. Multitasking is making you stupid.)

  • Write all your blog posts for the month (Ok, you probably won't write them all at once, but try writing them for a week at a time. Then build up to writing them for two weeks at a time, etc...)
  • Batch the administrative, bookkeeping, household duties (I learned this from my husband. He plans a specific time to handle boring tasks and he focuses in and quickly does it all. My technique of doing a little here and there was wasting so much of my energy!)

Batching changed my life. I used to be the worst multitasker and I was proud of it. But then I learned the *importance of focus*  It's critical!

I promise you Daniel, (and everyone else who struggles with this) if you follow these three simple steps, you will be blown away by how much you get accomplished and how much your business thrives because of it.


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