I’m talking FOCUS, folks. How to get it and how to keep it.
These dictionary definitions work for me — “center of interest or activity … to be able to see clearly, to pay particular attention to.”
But they don’t tell me how to stayed focused, how to stick with something for the long haul.
Tennis great Venus Williams has won Wimbledon five times. While every sport has its psychological component tennis is one that demands real mental toughness and sustained concentration – you don’t have a team to fall back on. Your focus is constantly tested by distractions – how the crowd reacts, or your own mental replay of mistakes you made. You cannot go back over your mistakes and think that replaying them will change the future. You have to move on or you lose the game.
Entrepreneurs are no different yet why is it that so many struggle with focus? Let’s look at a few reasons:
1) Understand the flip side of focus – distraction. Too often we get distracted by the next shiny object and go off on another path hoping to achieve it. We seem to be conditioned to strive for more stuff, rather than doing one thing well until we’re the best at it.
2) Figure out what your purpose is, why you’re doing what you’re doing. One reason you get distracted is not having a purpose. And it’s more than making money, which is not a bad thing, but humans need more out of life than making money for food and shelter – we search for meaning, in ourselves and our world.
3) Write out your twelve month goal, where you want to be and why. Then breaking it down into achievable monthly, weekly, and daily milestones which when accomplished will give you a rush just knowing you’re on track. Keep a post-it note near your desk with the day’s goals. You know the old saying – if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.
4) Don’t think you can multi-task. A recent Stanford University study found that multi-tasking makes you less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Why? Because doing more than one thing at a time causes you trouble organizing thoughts and filtering out irrelevant info, and makes you slower at switching from one task to another.
5) Get rid of frivolous distractions. Mine is watching Real Housewives, several episodes at a time. Most of us schedule the work day but I keep a schedule for my evenings as well, slotting in work like developing a program, blog post or the next week’s to-do list. If I accomplish my to do list, I give myself a treat of watching one episode. Email and Facebook are also distractions, especially if you are checking email several times a day AND getting totally absorbed in what everyone else is doing on Facebook. Schedule time in your day for BOTH of these activities.
6) Sports psychologists often travel with sports teams because it’s not just about the physical skill you practice and develop, but the mental skills as well. They say, ignoring distractions, like going over past mistakes, and visualizing future wins help tremendously.
7) Don’t work so much, or so late, that you have trouble sleeping – sleep is one of the best ways to stay focused.
8) Understand how you work best. A recent (May 2017) Fast Company article reported that quality work requires focus and you only have the energy to focus for so long. They said it was better to work hard and fast for short periods of time and then take breaks to renew your mental energy. Figure out your optimum times for work – for some it’s mornings, for others it’s late after the kids are in bed. Whatever that time, you need to understand how and when you focus in order to do your best work.
9) Redefine busy — many people are busy wasting time avoiding things that will get them closer to their goal. I am a firm believer in focusing and tracking all of your income producing activities like speaking, attending an event as a sponsor, being an exhibitor at an event, networking, lead generation and ultimately sales.
10) Know how many people you need to have a conversation with and ask before you land a sale. If it averages out to one in five, and you need three new clients this month, then you need to make sure you have 15 sales conversations throughout the month and be sure you are in front of enough people to generate those conversations. Have you got a list of prospects to even approach? If not, get cracking and start finding opportunities like networking events, and exhibitor opportunities to start generating leads.
11) Know what your financial goals mean in terms of sales per day. If for example your goal is to make $5000 this month, that breaks down to $1250 a week, and $250 a day. What will you do TODAY to generate that $250? If you don’t hit the goal today, then you need to double tomorrow’s goal. And the only way to make that goal is to meet people, leads, which means you have to get out of the house to be in front of people.