Handling Distractions

As a small business owner perhaps the greatest challenge is handling distractions. They lurk everywhere in the most legitimate forms that you don’t realize you’ve been sucked in until it’s way too late.

They are everything from that proposal you need to write, existing projects, researching, marketing all those things that are important to the success of your business, but they insist on crowding your brain so you don’t have any energy left to actually get any work done.

You’ll notice I haven’t even begun to mention the non-work distractions like financial worry, the Olympics (they’re only for three weeks and you should be patriotic… right?) and friends and family who drop by or call because they know you’re home.

Then there are platforms like MSN, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other time-wasters that legitimately can be part of your business operations but hours seem to vanish as soon as you sign on.

You’re scattered, frustrated and ready to throw in the towel.

Welcome to my world, and the world of ever small business owner I know.

I’m currently working on four big projects, but also need to find the time to line up more contracts so when these are finished so my bills can still be paid, write a new novel and research to find out who I can negotiate with to allow at least 6 more hours in each day. Twenty-four hours just isn’t cutting it anymore.

So how do you do it?

How do you keep above the ever-rising tide of to-dos?
How do you make your friends and relatives respect that you’re still working even though you’re at home?
How do your keep the funnel full of potential projects while paying attention to the ones you’re currently working on?

My solutions so far:

I have a schedule that I stick to as much as possible.

  • By knowing what I have to do at a certain time every day it helps me avoid distractions and keep to a deadline. If I know I’m not going to have time later, then I’m less likely to procrastinate.

I’ve created my schedule according to my body-clock.

  • I know this sounds a bit weird, but I tend to be more focused and aggressive in the morning so it’s a no-brainer for me to cruise for contracts when I first wake up.
  • I’m more technically focused in the early afternoon, so web programming or editing is done then.
  • In the evening I’m more relaxed and creative, that’s when my novels get written.

I break for me.

  • I eat breakfast in the morning. While I admit I eat it at my desk, it doesn’t take away the fact that it’s a healthy meal. My latest kick has been steel cut oatmeal with lots of real apple and raisins. I make a batch on Monday and eat leftovers all week.
  • To prevent losing my edge and burning myself out I take a break at lunch. I do 45 minutes on the Wii Fit Plus (don’t laugh I’ve lost 2 inches off my waist since the New Year). When I go back to work in the afternoon I’m refreshed and ready to go
  • Watch your nutrition, not only does bad eating habit make you sluggish, they also make you gain weight and feel worst about yourself. If you’re out networking and making presentations, the last thing you want to worry about is a popped button.
  • If you feel uncharacteristically out of sorts and unable to focus try taking a vitamin B complex. I rolled my eyes when it was first suggested to me, and the second and even the third. Now I really notice a difference. I highly recommend them

These aren’t necessarily things you’ll find in a time management book.

But, I’ve found over the years that if by keeping myself as a top priority, I can stay refreshed and focused so that everything else has a better chance to fall into place.

Although if anyone has any good tips on keeping friends and family at bay without causing a riot, I’m all ears.

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