Technology is rapidly increasing our ability to work at a faster pace. But managing multiple devices, email, and phone can be time consuming, distracting many people from focusing on their core work. Are you hitting your business goals or just treading water with day-to-day tasks? If you are spending more time on managing your communications than creating new products, you might want to consider these tips on how to declutter your work life.
Question: What is your advice on how to stay focused and keep organized?
Don’t juggle everything at once
Take breaks! As entrepreneurs, we often find ourselves juggling different tasks at once, and it's very easy to lose focus in the midst of it all. Go for a walk, sit in meditation, or call your mother. Taking a moment away from your work allows you to rest, recover, and regain momentum.
Schedule meetings in chunks
I like to schedule all meetings in the morning or in the afternoon to the extent that I can. That way, I'm guaranteed a block of time to focus on deliverables I'm accountable for rather than feeling like I'm having to stop/start progress throughout the day to hop on the phone.
Use a calendar and e-tools to organize your life
I highly recommend compulsively using Google Calendar and Trello (a workflow organizational web app). Between managing Japanese snack supply chain logistics for my startup, and organizing LGBT non-profit groups, it’s a challenge to maintain a personal life. I basically have to Google Calendar and Trello my entire life, or risk forgetting some important task.
Keep your space clutter-free
Make sure to keep an organized work space. Planning ahead is always ideal and when possible set aside time for specific tasks. When these two are not possible, I hire Joppers to assist me with organizational tasks such as running errands (grocery shopping or delivering packages) or even a quick manicure.
Stick to the plan
If I have a goal, I just create a plan and work hard. I always stick to the plan and follow the schedule. My family provides my source of positive emotions and is my super power.
Write a to-do list
I always create a to-do list the night before, so I know exactly what I'm doing the next day. I work using the Pomodoro method, which are 25-minute blocks of work followed by five minutes of rest. After four of these, I take a half hour break. During the 25-minute working block, I don't look on any social media or my phone. I use an app called 'Be Focused Pro,' but there are plenty of free versions, too. I can see which days are most productive by how many 'pomodoros' I do.
I don’t think there’s a silver bullet or magic answer for staying focused, but having a task list is key to focus and productivity. There’s lots of different methodologies for keeping track of tasks but all rely on the same principle: your brain is not good at keeping track of things. It’s good at processing. So, keep track of things on a task list, make sure it’s well organized, and do one thing at a time. Do it well, to completion, and then move on to the next task. Keep "multitasking" to a minimum and only for quick, trivial tasks.
Keep things simple and organized
I keep all my notes in one place, on one app, including random ideas, meeting notes, presentations, important telephone calls, team gatherings or strategy discussions. I use Evernote which syncs across all my devices, so everything is searchable and dated. I haven’t been on Facebook for over a year now.
Set your daily and weekly priorities
Owning a small business, there's always new things popping up day-to-day. I try and focus on prioritizing what has to get done each day, what I'd like to complete, and what needs to be finished by the end of the week. Our business has one other co-founder which works out great because I automatically have an accountability partner for checking in on my tasks. If you're a solopreneur or freelancer, one option is joining an accountability group.
Put your phone on airplane mode
Sometimes I put my phone on airplane mode. I stay off Instagram and Facebook as much as possible, unless it's to promote my work, which I include as working hours. I try to stick to a schedule that allows me to hit my mark at certain times, so by end of day I have tackled what I need to feel satisfied.
Block off time for thinking
I've found it very productive to reserve dedicated blocks of thinking times, or even a thinking day, where I remove myself from distractions, take a step back and think how I can better work on my business, rather than only in my business. Also, get plenty of it. It keeps your body healthy, your brain recharged, and your mood in check.