In order to have a successful plan of action for your business, you have to be able to carry out the plan. Unfortunately, many us are “handicapped” in such a way that even the best of plans would be worthless until we removed the handicap.
Went Nowhere Fast
You sit down at your computer to do a particular task that will advance your business. One, two, or eight hours later, you shut down the computer and consider yourself done for the day. If someone were to ask you what you got done, you would hesitate, unable to name a finished product.
If you’re like me, you probably checked email, looked at Facebook, started your task, checked Facebook again, Googled some things you were thinking about, worked a little more on your task until something got difficult, went back to Facebook, and then looked at some “recommended” YouTube videos. On top of that, perhaps you were interrupted by your staff, your telephone, and other matters demanding your attention.
The end result is that you did not accomplish what you sat down to accomplish, which would have moved your business ahead.
It’s not unusual to get involved in “activities” that make us look busy and feel engaged, though we’re actually doing hardly anything. You think you’re moving forward, but too often you end up going nowhere.
Culprit in the Crosshairs
Distraction has been an issue since at least 400 B.C., when Socrates became concerned with the effect that the then-new Greek alphabet would have. He was certain that writing things down would create distraction through an excess of information. He was sure it would weaken memory and otherwise diminish the mind.
Each successive Information Age (there have been several) has raised similar concerns, but I doubt any was as formidable as the internet, especially when so many people carry it in their pockets these days.
Smart phones are the biggest productivity killer. But even sitting at your computer, with the entire web a mouse click away, is probably no better. Texting, social media, Googling things—before you know it, a half hour or more has gone by and you’ve accomplished nothing.
If you’re going to have a successful business, you’re going to have to “kill” the biggest source of wasted time: access to the web. This means that you will have to start exerting some discipline so that you can move your business ahead.
Self-Discipline Made Easy
I don’t recommend that you try to completely eliminate email, social media and all internet-related things all at once. I don’t mean to assume that everyone is as prone to distraction as I am, but there was no way I could have gone “cold turkey” all at once.
Just start slow.
The next time you sit down to work on your business, go for just the first half hour distraction free: turn off the cell phone. Turn off the WiFi. If you need the internet to do you work, then simply declare to yourself that you are not going to check email, social media, Google news or anything else that would constitute a distraction from your task. If you have other kinds of distractions, put a sign on the door, tell your family to not bother you for a bit, have your assistant take messages for you or do whatever you have to do to prevent any interruptions for that first half hour.
Then, for the rest of your work period, feel free to carry forward with the usual distractions.
Do this until you can breeze through that half hour without any compulsion to check Facebook or whatever.
Then increase it to one hour and start all over again. I personally work in one-hour blocks and take a little break in between.
Eventually, you can even push it to several hours. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when you can do your highest leveraged activities—creating sales videos or new offers, writing an email to your list or anything else to do with sales and marketing—for an hour or two, undistracted.
The whole point of sitting down to work is to take meaningful actions that will move your business forward. So every day you should work on one big, significant thing. (Ideally, you should also finish it.)
If you are going to allow yourself to be continuously distracted, you are, to some degree, killing your business.
Don’t kill your business; kill the distractions instead. Reduce them or otherwise block them out.
Technology is not going away. Your emails will remain in your inbox until you delete them. Your Facebook notifications will continue to add up until you click on them. Completely unplug for a half hour (at least) and move your business forward.