I’ve written similarly on this topic before, for other media, in a lighthearted kind of way. However, now more than ever, I believe the message bears repeating. What’s the topic? What does “SOS” really stand for? In my world – it stands for “Shiny Object Syndrome” and I have it bad – particularly at this time of year. In the summertime, more than any other time of year, I find just about everything can become a distraction from my business.
If you are like me, and finding it hard to focus, I’ve done a bit of research that might just prove helpful. Sure some of this might seem to be just good “old-fashioned” common sense but we couldn’t we all use a little reminding sometimes? After all, with the kids off school and clamoring to be driven here, there, and everywhere or to be supervised while they swim in the pool (and gosh, it looks inviting out there and it is hot outside) distractions are everywhere. The problem is, you’ve got a business to run! You are self-employed, you are super women and you are successful – so c’mon, just FOCUS!
Sure – easier said than done. So here, without further ado, is a “Top Ten” list on how to conquer distractions:
- If social media is your enemy, turn it off! Sounds simple right? Just turn it off, yet so many of us find it hard and with addictive algorithms built right in what’s a girl to do? The answer is turn off your notifications. Without this feature on your phone or computer, you will have to make a more conscious choice to log in to your social media accounts.
- Schedule breaks. If you worked in a “real” place of employment vs. your home, you would be entitled to breaks and a lunch. Sure we don’t take them all the time but make a point to take a break at least some of the time. Stepping away from your home office occasionally will actually make you more productive while you are working because you know you have set time limits within which to get work done. You will also feel less guilty about taking a break because it is scheduled.
- Start your morning off on the right foot. Many self-employed entrepreneurs turn on the computer or cell phone almost as soon as they wake up and then begin working right away. Next thing you know it’s already 10am, you’re still in your PJ’s and you haven’t even showered. Yes, occasionally that’s the advantage to working from home but the reality is, we are often not nearly as productive as we think we are. Attitude is everything. Treat yourself like the star employee you are. Would you show up to work in your PJ’s? Nope. So don’t sell yourself short. Get up, get dressed then “go” to work.
- Consider this mental trick if coffee is your thing: treat yourself to a coffee a day. Leave the house in the morning, go and get yourself that coffee you so richly deserve, then come home and start work. It will provide a sense of separation from home as you leave and a psychological sense of starting work when you return. Plus – who wouldn’t want a cup of “Joe” from their favorite place each day!
- Along the same idea – work regularly scheduled hours. Again, some of us enjoy the flexibility of working from home because we DON’T have to work a regular 9-5 job. However, consistently working a wide variety of times throughout the day often results in working throughout the night too. You take time off to drive Junior to a friends place and that becomes a 2 hr distraction as you just “pop in to the grocery store for a few things.” Later, when trying to catch up on the work you missed during the day, you are distracted by the sounds of family having fun or missing your favorite TV show.
- Make sure your office has a window if at all possible. Nothing feels worse than feeling you are missing out on what’s going on in the world. Is it sunny, raining? Is a Tornado headed your way and you risk being caught unaware? While having a window might seem counter-intuitive to avoiding distraction think of it this way; if you do have access to the outdoors you don’t have to get up from your desk quite so often just to see what’s going on! Some of this is discipline of course but it’s true that just being able to see outside has actually been proven to help improve mental outlook.
- Turn your phone off occasionally, particularly your text message feature and let calls go to voice mail. Nowadays we are all pretty much “glued” to our phones. They sit on our desks while we work and for those of us working at home, they ARE our work. That said, they still don’t need to be on 24/7 and taking a break from them is a good thing. If you are concerned about missing an important text in-between all the frivolous distracting ones from your mother in law or the kids, use one of the auto-answer features for text and/or voicemail to let clients know you will get back to them shortly.
- Schedule appointments and phone calls for regular business hours. Again, sometimes the budding entrepreneur feels as though they have to take calls at any hour of the day or night. Maybe occasionally you really do. Most times however, the people you are dealing with are also working in a regularly scheduled environment and you should too. This is not so much a distraction issue as it is a respect for your time issue. You work hard, very hard but it doesn’t mean you have to be “on” 24/7.
- Pets! If you have one, you know that a pet can be an even bigger distraction than a child or a client who harangues you constantly. Unless your pet is particularly well behaved, blocking them from your office workspace might be the best policy. Not only are they occasionally very distracting, a misplaced paw on your keyboard could cause a world of grief when it accidentally deletes a project you’ve been working on!
Experts will weigh in on all kinds of other methods for limiting distractions including mindfulness techniques, meditation and yes, perhaps even using some version of the latest fad, a fidget-spinner, to help keep you focused. The bottom line is to employ techniques that you know will work well for you. Working in my PJ’s was never going to be successful for me and I definitely get distracted too easily in the morning. It was becoming a real issue. By implementing just some of these “get up and go out” to work techniques my productivity improved almost overnight. Maybe you don’t have shiny object syndrome but these tips are just good work habits for everyone. If you do have SOS – I understand your pain! It can be hard to overcome – particularly in summer when the shiny object in question is the gorgeous, hot summer sun!
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!