In our fast-paced, high-stress, information-laden world, busyness has become the norm. We are presented daily with a tempting array of products and possibilities — all vying for our time and attention. Never in history have people been barraged with so much information and offered so many choices. It’s tough to stay focused. For small business owners who must wear many different hats to keep their companies going and growing, the challenge of staying focused and on track can be overwhelming.
A lmost daily, entrepreneurs share with us the difficulty and the frustration they face trying to stay focused. Just last week, we received the following email from a friend: “Please can you help me? I seem to start each morning with a great plan — I know what I want to accomplish. But I barely get started when the phone rings, I check my email, then life just takes over. By 6 p.m., I’ve spent the day putting out fires and taking care of unimportant details, and I’ve hardly had time to think about my goal. It just seems impossible to focus.”
There is a solution! In this article, I’ll suggest some practical keys that have helped me and others to stay focused.
Know Where You Are Going
The world makes way for a man who knows where he is going. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you’re to stay focused and avoid being sidetracked by enticing distractions, you need to know where you want to take your life and what you want to accomplish. This may change over the years, but if you don’t know, you’re likely to drift through life, carried along by a busy schedule, and look back in the future with regret.
A. Live On Purpose
Seek to understand your purpose. This might be a life-long quest, but keep at it. Decide what you want to achieve in life. It may be helpful to ask yourself: What is my purpose in life? Why did I start this business? What is the purpose of this business? What am I truly passionate about? What sort of a person do I want to become? Where do I want to be and what do I want to be doing three, even ten, years from today?
These can be thought provoking, sometimes uncomfortable questions to ask ourselves. Take some time to think about your answers, and then ponder what you really mean by those answers.
Have a plan and write it down, no matter how simple or complex it might be. Set realistic goals. The more clearly defined they are, the more likely you are to achieve them. Then establish incremental milestones and break your main goals into smaller goals for each month, week and day.
Have a clear vision of where you’re headed. In his book E-Myth Mastery, Michael E. Gerber shows that most businesses fail because of vision that creates an inevitable cloud of misdirected activity. As he coaches Sarah to grow her pie shop into a world-class business, Gerber recommends that she hire an artist to create a picture of what her business will look like in the future and hang it on the wall. Keep your vision before you — it will help you stay focused.
C. Be Accountable — You Can’t Do it Alone
Owners of small businesses are seldom accountable to anyone. Find someone to hold you accountable to do what you’ve committed to do. Share your goals and the deadlines you’ve set, and ask him or her to check up on you and accept no excuses.
Victoria K. Munro is co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small business owners through creatively designed programs and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at: http://www.Make-it-Fly.com, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.
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