Sometimes you need a jolt to wake you up.
This is not a political post, but I’ll start with explaining how incredibly unfocused I’ve become since January. The insane amount of breaking news has impacted my work on a daily basis. I had to disable the notifications on my Chromebook because I couldn’t stay focused on any task when Russia, North Korea, and Syria kept popping up every few minutes.
That would be okay if I were a news reporter and needed to be informed of any new development. Except I’m not a reporter – I’m a business owner. And I don’t make money from reading, watching or listening to hundreds of hours of political media.
The root of my recent unfocused behavior is clearly political. However, the reason you're an unfocused mess could be anything. Stress, family issues, relationship problems, money, your kids act like little monsters…the list goes on.
If your business is suffering because you’re unfocused, here’re three unpleasant (but effective) ways to metaphorically slap yourself out of your funk.
Get Real with Your Time
Sometimes the truth is hard.
It’s like avoiding the scale after the holidays because you know you’ve gained weight. You can’t zip your pants up but you don’t need your judgemental scale telling that to your face.
It’s time to get real about your time if you’re losing money (like I was). You can use a tool like RescueTime if you work online (there’s a decent free version) that will show you exactly how you spend your time (the good and the bad).
You can also keep a detailed record of your time if you work offline by hand or with a tool like Toggl. The point is to see how you're spending your days with hard data. It’s hard to make excuses when you see the facts in black and white.
Start a Social Media Detox
How much time do you waste every day on social media? And not social media that benefits your business.
Facebook users have almost reached $3.5 trillion in squandered productivity. Think about how much time you spend on social media platforms that have nothing to do with your business. Then try to figure out how much that time cost you in actual dollars. That exercise shames me and I have no excuse. I know better.
If you’re losing precious time to adorable cat videos or reading stupid celebrity gossip about people you don’t even know, it’s time to start a social media detox. Deactivate, delete or avoid all social media for at least a week. Sian K shares her experiences after a self-imposed social media blackout:
“The first night was difficult, I won’t lie. I was on edge about something which I was talking to my friend about and, when my friend went out that evening, all I wanted to do was go on Facebook and reach out to someone else who knew about the situation. My hand was actually shaking at one point as I tried to talk myself out of going on there.
The following days were much easier. The problem that I was on edge about had been resolved by the following day and, after that, I had no desire to go on social media at all.”
Try it. You have nothing to lose and your followers won’t die because they don’t read your clever tweets or a pic of your latest meal from Blue Apron.
Block Out Distractions
So you know how you waste time and you’ve also detoxed from social media. Sounds easy, enough? But do you have the control to actually stop doing the things that have hijacked your time?
If you lack the control or willpower to step away from your huge time wasters, it’s time to call out the big guns. It’s time to block out every distraction and limit your access. That means you can’t get on Instagram even if you want to – no matter what.
Freedom is one of many blocking apps that take away your ability to look at sites. Think of it as the proverbial lock on the refrigerator that keeps you away from the last piece of pie. It’s perfect for those that lack the willpower to do the right thing.
This may seem drastic, but it’s completely necessary if you keep jumping over to Facebook just for a minute…
Your Business Needs a Leader
It’s time to take action if your business is suffering because you’re stuck in an unhealthy cycle. Sure the reasons why I was so distracted are important (health care, climate change, foreign governments interfering in our elections, etc.). But since I’m not independently wealthy, I can’t just drop my responsibilities and save the world. I need to save my business too.
Like me, you may need to face some harsh realities to get back on track. You may need a drastic jolt to your system that forces you to wake up. Or face damaging your business.
None of this is easy. Whatever issue may be interfering in your work life could be serious and you may need to handle it to move on. But don’t let outside influences interfere with your business. Learn how to handle distractions and get focused on what your business needs right now.
I’m still trying to save the world. I’m just not doing it from work.