If there’s one thing I struggle with, it’s focusing on one goal at a time. With my smartphone buzzing around the clock, it feels like Facebook, Twitter and Buzzfeed are all working 24/7 to steal bite-sized pieces of my attention-span. At the end of the day, if I give into the temptation of looking at my newsfeed every few minutes, I feel drained; and looking back on a less productive day doesn’t help.
Being the goal-oriented entrepreneur that I am, I began a crusade to limit distractions and improve productivity by becoming more focused. The clarity that comes from being able to solitarily attack one objective at a time has allowed me to outmaneuver the competition. In this article, I’ll cover just a few of the tips I’ve found to help me focus and get more done in a day.
1. The 52 and 7 Rule
This simple, powerful strategy has been discussed at length. It’s a pretty simple concept, based on an exhaustive study of workers using an app to track the timing of their breaks. I tried to work this into my work routine and I’ve found I’m able to work productively for 12 hours a day. Normally, anything more than 10 hours and I’m exhausted and ineffective. But, the regular breaks really do help me maintain my edge.
Staying focused takes energy and drive. If you avoid taking breaks, you’ll wear down your batteries a lot faster than those willing to break away and refresh their mind.
2. Downsize your living situation
Okay, this might make me sound Machiavellian, but when I knew I needed to focus more effectively, I took a cold, calculating look at the distractions in my life. One of those distractions was my living arrangement. My girlfriend and I had spent that last 3 months living together, and I cared deeply for her. But, the stress associated with being a homeowner and living with someone else represented an opportunity cost.
Unexpected repairs and regular upkeep meant my home was both a time and money drain. So, I started to discuss the prospect of selling my home with my girlfriend. I was surprised to find that she was excited by the prospect of moving to a new place.
But, we experienced our first hurdle after meeting with our realtor to discuss the market and what we (I) could expect to sell the home for. Learning how to deal with the common tendency for unrealistic sellers to price their home at a higher rate than the market is a challenge. After someone owns something, the value in their mind goes up. After my realtor pointed this out, I realized she was right. My girlfriend took a little longer to come around to my point of view; we needed a relatively quick, hassle-free sale so that we could quickly move to someplace that didn’t involve all the headaches of home ownership.
Even with the realistic price point, the housing market in my community was a tad slow. Honestly, the hassles of selling almost outweighed the benefits of moving. But, selling my home to a local broker made the process much faster and easier.
3. Reconsider the relationships in your life
With my housing situation sorted, it was time for me to focus on my relationship with my girlfriend. I gently started to hint that I felt work was taking too much of my time and energy. By explaining that I didn’t want to cheat my girlfriend out of an amazing relationship, I humbly suggested that we take a break. I was expecting a fight. It turns out, she was feeling that she was a distraction in my life. She didn’t deserve that. So, taking a break was a great way for us to both improve our lives.
Of course, having a significant other in the picture brings great benefits too. So, if you still want to maintain a relationship, there are alternatives that can help you focus without sacrificing your love interest. I work from home, so having someone else at the house is a built-in, nearly constant distraction.
Had I chosen to maintain my relationship, I would have used a co-working space. This cost-effective alternative allows entrepreneurs to have the benefits of an office, without a headache and some of the added expenses that renting office space usually entails.
Of course, because I sold my home and moved into a single-occupant apartment, I had the absolute best scenario for focusing and making changes in my life; no commute, solitude and the ability to completely control my immediate environment.
4. Optimize your workspace
The areas where we work significantly impacts our productivity. For me, I have a hard time working in noisy environments. Even music, which is calming for some, distracts me from the task at hand.
The idea of creating the “Google Analytics” of an office space is fascinating to me. So, I decided to begin keeping track of how and where I like to work in my apartment. Am I more productive sitting on the couch, or at a desk? Is working from bed a bad idea? The portability of a laptop gives one the unlimited for a potential workspace.
To reach maximum productivity, you need to list the pain-points in your life. For me, home ownership might have been a solid financial investment, but it was a major time drain when things went wrong. My relationship with my girlfriend was a great release, but it was also a distraction. Quickly selling my home, honestly assessing my relationships and analyzing my workspace has given me the freedom to reach my potential.
What changes will you make in your life to make great things happen?
Photo credit: Jakub Zak/Shutterstock