One of the most common questions people asked me when I was running my business in college was, “How do you balance everything that you need to do?”
And I always shared that I was able to do it all because I was blessed with great time management skills. Although I’ve always been the type of person to thrive under pressure, balancing your time doesn’t come easy to everyone–and that’s okay!
Procrastinating and getting distracted are two very real struggles as an entrepreneur–especially when your to-do list is a mile long with no end in sight. If you find that you need help with staying focused on your tasks to ensure they get done in time, keep reading to learn my favorite tips.
Remove All Distractions
As I shared above, getting distracted can happen so easily. A “quick break” turns into you realizing that you just spent an hour scrolling through some random person’s profile… when you could have spent that hour doing business work! Yikes.
If you’re the type of person to get distracted, remove everything from your sight that might cause you to veer off course:
- Turn off notifications on your phone so that you aren’t sidetracked by every single text, Snapchat, email, or something else. I don’t turn my notifications completely off, but I do leave my phone on “do not disturb.”
- Put your phone in a separate area entirely so that you’re not tempted to pick it up and start mindlessly scrolling. I put my phone in my desk drawer so that it’s out of sight and therefore out of mind.
- Get rid of social media sites from your browser. I haven’t tried this method before, but there are some Chrome extensions that won’t allow you to access Facebook or other sites for a certain period of time, which is great if you find yourself constantly opening up other tabs.
- Allow for some background noise (or no background noise). So many of my entrepreneur friends say that they work better when they have music or a podcast playing… but I’m on the opposite end and can’t have any noise in order to produce my best work! Whichever you prefer, stay consistent with it.
- Dedicate one room or spot to working. Instead of working in your bed or on your couch where you may be tempted to nap or watch TV, find a spot in your home (if you work from home) that will be your working space. Whether it’s an actual office if you have a spare room or even just a seat at your kitchen or dining room table, having a space that you can dedicate as your own will do wonders for productivity. Although I’ve always been a productive person, I felt that my productivity went through the roof once I leased an office space and had a physical location to drive to every day.
Although there are many ways to get distracted, the most important part is to identify what distracts you and come up with solutions to prevent that from happening.
Work During Your Most Productive Hours
A big reason why you go off-course with your to-do list is you are trying to work during a time that just doesn’t work for you. Maybe you’re feeling…
- Burnt out
Or something else. Whatever it may be, you’re just not in the zone to work–and that’s okay! You’re not always going to be in the mood to work, which is why you need to craft a schedule that allows you to work during your most productive hours so that you’re capitalizing on that time and getting as much done as possible.
I have friends who prefer to work late in the night, while I prefer to start early in the morning. I’ll reserve my biggest tasks for the morning when I’m feeling super energized and then save my easier tasks for later in the afternoon / early nighttime when I don’t have that same energy or focus. You never want to work on big projects when you’re feeling low on energy because you’ll never produce your best work that way.
Although I live in a digital world, I still love being able to use pen and paper to jot down random notes or plan my schedule for the day. There are two methods that I use to keep track of all of my tasks: Asana for overall client projects and deliverables and a paper schedule for daily to-do lists.
Asana keeps track of everything I need to do and when I need to do it. My paper schedule marks which tasks I’m going to do at which hour of each day… which may sound a little nuts, but for me, it works. I love using Asana to have a “futuristic” view of what I need to do while also being able to create a list for one specific day within my notebook.
I personally find that my hourly schedule keeps me totally focused because I have a fear of falling behind on work, and I know that if I lose my focus, I’ll fall behind–and this daily schedule tells me when I need to get things done.
Get an Accountability Partner
I personally can’t work with someone directly, as I feel like I’ll just want to talk to them and therefore will get distracted (so I guess being a solo entrepreneur and working alone has its benefits after all!), but maybe that works for you. If it does, find a way to make it happen, even if it’s just once per week!
Whether it’s meeting up with a local entrepreneur friend or scheduling a Zoom session, knowing that you have someone there who is holding you accountable to the tasks on your plate is huge. Although I don’t have “work sessions” with people, I do have an awesome accountability partner that I meet with once per month to chat about what I’m working on. Physically saying those tasks out loud to someone else gives me a bigger drive to ensure that they get done.
Take Care of Yourself
I’m sure you’ve heard this dozens of times, but taking care of yourself as an entrepreneur really is important–especially when it comes to your motivation.
When I wasn’t going to the gym, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, etc., I felt tired, uninspired, and lazy. But once I started to put in the work to create a robust self-care routine, I found that my productivity soared through the roof. Giving yourself a little extra TLC can do wonders!
Whatever you find works for your focus, stick to it. Some people swear by the Pomodoro method, and although it isn’t my thing, it may be yours. It totally helps to try a few different methods to understand which ones give you the best results.