As entrepreneurs, we have such a great deal on our plates. With the constant slew of employee meetings, client calls, and company events – not to mention the amount of ideas that are popping into our heads at any given moment – there is plenty to keep up with. Getting pulled in a thousand different directions all at once can make it difficult to focus and get anything done.
More than anything else, the ability to focus is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest. Without focus, you can be working all hours of the day and night without truly being productive. Also, by focusing on the wrong things you could end up creating products that aren’t actually viable or providing real solutions.
So how do you stay focused (and on the right things) as an entrepreneur? Here are my best tips.
Envision the day(s) ahead
Don’t start your day without a plan. Take a few minutes to create a rough draft of how you want things to go. What’s the best case scenario? What do you accomplish; what do you work on, who do you meet with; how do you feel at the end of the day? Start putting your energy into creating an exceptional day.
However, it’s not enough to just think about the short-term. Take it one step further; what does life look like a year or two from now? What does your company look like? What are you doing on a typical day? This is what you should be focused on. Use that vision for the future to keep you on track in the present. Remind yourself every single day what you’re working towards so that no day goes wasted.
Be purposeful with your time
It is impossible to stay focused for an entire day (for one thing, our willpower is often depleted by the end of the day). Understand which hours of the day are peak times for getting things done and block off those hours for your big tasks. (Need to do some creative thinking? Science says we’re at our best early in the morning).
Create the ideal environment
You can have the best of intentions and all of the discipline in the world, but then end up being completely derailed by your surroundings and the people around you.
Don’t underestimate the power your environment has on your ability to focus. Surround yourself with highly motivated, focused individuals who will serve as a positive influence. If you need time to think deeply, devoid your space of digital distractions. Make it impossible to not focus.
Train your brain
Our overactive minds are good at multitasking, especially in this digital, hyper-connected world. A little too good, in fact. When you get so used to being engaged in multiple activities at once, any focus goes out the window. You need to retrain your brain and practice quieting your mind. Start with half an hour of uninterrupted time and then tack on more if you need (or can handle) it. Think of it like meditation; when you find your mind wandering, wrangle it back and center yourself again.
Know your (specific) priorities
Ask yourself this question: what do you need to be doing in the next six months in order to be successful in the next few years? Choose three things. Just three. Then, rank them in order of importance. Be as specific as possible. Try to identify what is truly important to your business. The rest of the stuff you are doing?
Keep this list of priorities in a highly visible place and look at it every day. Communicate it to your team to make sure that they keep you focused and are focused on the right things themselves. Allow everyone to move toward the same focused target together. Use this list as a guide for your daily to-do lists and agendas. Everything you do should align with these overarching priorities to ensure that you stay focused on the right things.