Some race horses wear blinkers during a race.
It’s because they get too distracted by everything else going on around them.
They start looking at the other horses, the crowd, the jockeys… and they get overwhelmed.
So trainers make sure the horses most likely to lose focus wear these blinkers on the sides of their halters.
It reminds me of how, in business, I talk about the need to focus a lot.
Focus is GOOD.
It stops you from being distracted by your environment (both external and internal).
But for many busy business owners, carving out some space to focus on that ONE big project is practically impossible.
Urgent emails pop up. Staff need assistance. You notice a comment on your Facebook feed from a client that needs attention. A supplier rings with a problem....
All of these small external interruptions can shatter your focus.
Combine them with a tendency to switch focus as a procrastination tactic, and you’ve no hope in hell of completing your big project (you know, the one that will actually move your business forward).
The thing is, focus is a learned skill.
In today’s super busy, super scattered world, it’s like our brains have 10 tabs open at any given time.
It takes practice to calm our monkey mind so we can concentrate on just one thing.
Anyone working on mindfulness can attest to this 🙂
If you have been looking at the same unfinished project on your ‘to do’ list for more than one month, you MUST change how you’re approaching your time.
Try this process to get the important stuff done -
✔Use RescueTime to track your online activity for 1 week. Look for areas you aren’t using your time efficiently. Then delegate, delete, or consolidate tasks to free up 1 hour a day.
✔Make that 1 hour’s worth of time your new ‘power hour’. Mark it on your calendar, schedule it as if it was a client meeting. Protect that time - it’s important.
✔During your ‘power hour’, let your team know that this is your ‘do not disturb’ time. If you work in a physical office, close the door and put a sign on it if necessary.
✔Put your phone on silent - forward your number to your PA if you cannot bear the thought of a call going to voicemail.
✔Use a distraction-blocking app such as https://freedom.to/ to strip your browser of all distracting notifications. It can even block certain websites for a specified hour of time (great if you’re a habitual email checker).
✔Use https://tomato-timer.com/ to set the clock - then work on your project for one hour solid, or use the Pomodoro technique (work in 25 minute bursts with a 5 minute break in between) if you prefer.
✔Complete ONE task per power hour. Use sticky notes to break down your project into stages, milestones, and tasks so you are always 100% clear on what needs to be done. If your tasks take longer than 1 hour to complete, they are too big. Break them down into smaller tasks.
✔Track your progress. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of a project it can feel like you’re getting nowhere. Then it’s easy to get disheartened and lose focus on your goal. Move the sticky note for each completed task to a ‘done’ wall, so you can visually see your progress at-a-glance. It will keep you motivated and hungry for the end result.
I’ve found this works incredibly well for me, my team, and my clients too.
Especially those who are easily distracted or overwhelmed.
Give it a try in the next week, and let me know what changes for you.