4 Ways to Stop Getting Distracted and Start Hitting Goals
Needless diversions can limit your business's growth -- here's how to avoid them.
I recently concluded an interview with a podcaster. I should have been happy, but felt deflated and discouraged. My business the previous year had the best year ever. However, I knew I had a persistent obstacle, one I battle with all the time: distractions.
After I got off the interview, I thought to myself, "What if I wasn't so distracted? Would my business be better? Would my life be better?"
Yes, the business is successful, but that's despite the many projects I'm working on that are not going so well. There have been many calls, activities and side-tasks which wound up being a waste of time for me, my team and my company.
What about you? Are you doing a lot of "stuff" but find that much of that activity is not great for the bottom line? Here's what I do to help me focus better.
1. Establish your flywheel
In Jim Collins' 2019 monograph, Turning the Flywheel, he details the ultimately simple things that make businesses work — the key things that make success happen.
One example he uses is Nike:
• The company invests a lot of money in a sneaker.
• It then invests more in finding an athlete to endorse it.
• The next step is selling the sneaker at a very high price.
• Repeat the process.
So, what's your flywheel — what are the key aspects or pillars that make your enterprise work?
2. Say "No"
I'm a "yes" guy. I like to be liked and don't like to say "No." However, I'm learning that the more I respond with an affirmative to people, the fewer opportunities I have to do other things that might be a better expenditure of time. Saying "No" let's me do more things that are better and more congruent with what's important to my business — lets me focus more on that critical flywheel.
3. Include empty spaces in your calendar
I used to pride myself on packing my calendar— on letting every minute be consumed by activities. More recently, however, I'm taking satisfaction from having Fridays much freer and in having hours at a time between appointments on Monday, or any other day for that matter.
My executive assistant has been instrumental in helping me "time block" like this, ensuring that I'm not overloaded. With that newly found free time, I can sit at my desk and think about the future of the business. I can read a good book or watch a movie. I can use this time to send thank you cards and otherwise build better relationships with clients or future clients.
Diversions from what's truly important are a hazard, in part because they often start so subtly, and seemingly innocently. But like weeds, they can quickly and silently spiral out of control and eat away our time, drain our energy and cause us frustration.
4. Say "Yes" to the right side projects
A business coach told me an interesting thing after I called her about feeling so diverted by needless tasks. She said, "Ramon, are other parts of your life and your business doing ok? If so, you then can give yourself permission to work on other projects."
Here's the point: It's ok to work on other things that bring you joy, or that you want to experiment with, or that you want to test out. If you live your life too rigidly, you are missing part of the point of being a small business owner: the freedom to chart our own course — to work with who we want, how we want and in the way we want.
It's true that distractions are not good, and that we should focus on our business. However, just as it's ok to have a bit of sweets and desserts, it's ok to enjoy your business and focus on fun projects from time to time.
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