With so many things demanding our attention at any given minute focus has become one of the hardest states of mind to achieve.

And yet, it is not at all impossible.  The below 7 steps will guide you through the process of achieving laser sharp focus whenever you call for it. 

Let’s take a look at them:

1. Prioritize.

Don’t overload yourself with to-dos.   And, as innocent as it may seem, don’t multitask.   

This sounds counterintuitive, but the less key to-dos you attempt to check off your list every day, the faster will be your progress. 

End of each day or beginning of the new one go through your to-do list and select 1-3 items, your KEY to-dos, that will move your biz forward–e.g. write copy for a sales page, outline module 4 of the new course, fill out and submit application form to be a speaker at X event, etc. 

Smaller things like e-mail, social media, requests of others (if aligned with your goals) will have to happen around your main items.

2. Get Clear

As you begin working on a project, take the time to clarify for yourself what needs to be done.  At the very least, define the next logical step.

For example, “write copy a sales page” might be clear enough for somebody who’s done it a dozen of times.

On the other hand, if you are not comfortable with writing sales pages just yet, break it further into clear steps to know where to start:

  • Collect examples of sales pages you like.
  • Create a structure for your own page.
  • Collect the necessary information, like transcripts of conversations with your ideal clients sharing with you how it feels not having that area of their business handled or testimonials.
  • Write the copy.
  • Run it by somebody, who can give you unbiased critique.

3. Declare Distractions a War

Begin with creating a log of your distraction triggers.  After that go down the list and address each one of them. 

For example:

  • If you get distracted by the alerts your phone makes when you get a new message, put it on silent.
  • If you get distracted by emails coming into your inbox or any other programs running sigh out of everything, or, if you don’t trust yourself, block them.  
  • If your clients call you to check in on their projects, let them know that you are available for calls office hours and/or create a shared Google Doc that you regularly update that they can check themselves so as not to disturb you.
  • If to-dos keep popping up in your mind, record them somewhere physically—piece of paper, running doc, your task management software—and move on (don’t jump into doing it, even if it’s a task that “will take a minute.”  It won’t.
  • If what distracts you is your not being able to locate the right document promptly, invest time in organizing your files.

One after another, you will get rid of your distractions.  You will be able to get in control of your attention and concentrate on the task at hand instead of catching yourself drifting away and struggling to refocus.

4. Respect Your Time 

If you act like YOU respect your time, you will train people around you to do the same. 

Block periods of time when something needs to happen.  This applies to your client projects AS WELL AS your own.

When someone requests something of you and you WANT to accommodate them, ask for the deadline. Then check your calendar to see if that would be possible.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a few extra days if you need to. 

If it’s something not urgent or something you are not eager to jump in, say no!  Not comfortable yet?  Practice: “Unfortunately, I cannot commit to it right now.  Please follow up with me in.”

People will request of you as much time as you will let them.  You are the one who has to set the boundaries.

5. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin 

Know what you need to do yourself and what you should delegate. 

You’ve got to know what deserves your time and what does not.  Start with stuff that definitely shouldn’t be on your plate: running to the post office to mail welcome packet for your client, uploading your blog posts, or scheduling your social media. 

As you free up time to focus on high-leverage activities that bring in more money, delegate more—depending on the nature of your business it might be website management & design, copywriting, research, or client support.

The less you have on your plate, the easier it will be to focus.

6. Step Into Your CEO Stilettos

Schedule regular strategy meetings.  It’s okay if it’s just you for now. 

Otherwise, call up your assistant and share with her what’s been accomplished over the past month and what you are planning for in the next 4 weeks.

This will help you to keep yourself on track and make sure that things you are doing on a daily basis are taking you closer to your goals.  It’s very easy to get carried away by the “visible” to-dos: creating your art, marketing it, replying to e-mails, writing content…

Most people start their small businesses to practice their craft and do it on their own terms.  The “busy” work or the “visible” to-dos as listed above are expected, so we readily jump into to do them.  What we are less prepared for is that we also have to be the leaders, visionaries, and captains of our little ships.

Don’t forget about your managerial role in the company.

7. Clone Yourself

Get your systems out of your head and into shareable docs 

Remember that the processes you are keeping in your head (even if you can do something with your eyes closed) take invaluable space. 

Those are the types of things that pop up in our heads the moment we sit down to do something:

  • So-and-so didn’t reply, I need to check in with him.
  • I don’t remember adding the Share button to my webinar page, let me quickly double check.
  • I tweeted my blog post, but didn’t share it on FB, because I was interrupted.  Before I start on this project, let me take a sec to post my blog on FB (have you ever spent just a second on Facebook?).
  • and so on…

Having your processes outlined will help you keep track of everything that’s happening without having to keep it all in your head.  You will also be able to start something and finish it without having to come back to it for what Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson call “rework.”

Don’t delay it much longer.  It’s that much easier to have someone help you when you just tell them:  “Here is the checklist of what needs to happen when you upload the blog post and here is the screencast of how to do it.” 

And while THEY are taking care of that, YOU can focus on something you REALLY have to focus on.

Back to You

Which one of the above tactics resonated with you?  Which one are you going to test this week?