Staying focused is the struggle of almost every entrepreneur I know, including myself. As a result, I’ve had to develop systems that force me to stay on task.
On the one hand, our lack of focus is a direct result of all the creativity buzzing around in our mind – all our ideas to grow our business by finding new opportunities – and our ever-expanding To Do list. However, as with many things it’s both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the aforementioned creativity “buzz” – the curse is that we can become paralyzed and frustrated by it.
Too many ideas are not a good thing. Someone recently said to me that “any schmuck can come up with an idea” and it’s 100% true. It’s not the idea that is important, it’s how you learn to focus on the right idea – and how you execute it to grow your business. Ideas often derail us and take us off track. Often the simplest, most boring ideas end up being the most successful, because they zone in what is important and don’t allow us to waste time and get derailed. And conversely, often those widely creative ideas that seem brilliant in your mind often fall flat on paper, because they’re too complicated to allow your brain to focus on the execution.
So again, I’m preaching about less is more.
This is particularly relevant around the festive season, where panic often sets in because we have too much to do in a limited time. To get things done, remember that doing fewer things better is far better than doing many things badly!
Here are some helpful hints to help you stay focused over the busy festive season:
1. Prioritize it
Make a list of your top three priorities for the remainder of 2014. Identify what is really important, what is somewhat important and what is important because of guilt! Start with what is really important and only move to the “somewhat” important after that – leave your “important because of guilt” until last.
2. Schedule it
On a Friday afternoon, print out your weekly calendar (principle applies to an “analog” or digital agenda) and take a peek at the week ahead. Plan what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it by writing in your calendar under each time slot, i.e. allocate your time specifically. Focus only on those things. If new initiatives, ideas, tasks come up, then something else has to come off or delegate it to after the festive season.
3. Plan it
Every time you think of a new idea or initiative, slot it into your planning document for next year (HINT: Prepare an annual Project Me document and include your Goals & Objectives, Strategy for achieving your goals, and Plan – all should fit onto one page – think of it as your Mini-Plan). Over the holiday season, jot down ideas that you have and then in January, once things settle down, go through the document and make it more complete. That will form your plan for the year ahead – but at least you’ve got a “head” start.
4. Take one day at a time
I’ve probably said this before and I’ll say it again, “take one day at a time, but with a global plan in mind”. Don’t panic about things that are yet to happen. Be prepared, but don’t get paranoid.
Your objective during the next few weeks is survival. Get through this busy period by focusing on your top priority. End your year having accomplished your core goal – don’t add new things to your list at this late stage as you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. That is January’s job!
Happy holidays and see you in January.
Image credit: by Dafne Cholet, via flickr.com.