As a busy entrepreneur, I’m usually juggling anywhere between 5 and 12 projects at a time. How about you?
Usually, things hum along nicely because I have set up and use systems and routines to control the workflow. Stuff comes up, it goes through a process and comes out the other end. Rinse and repeat. Until something new and bright and shiny comes along. Then it goes through a different process to see if it even makes the cut to go through the usual process.
This is not as confusing as it sounds. It’s actually quite easy. Plus my systems are adaptable, so even if something doesn’t quite fit, I make an adjustment or 2 and it works.
Even with great systems and routines it can be easy to get off track. Information, ideas, interruptions, entertainment, and snacks all want our attention. So many distractions and so many possibilities can make it hard to stay with the thing you are trying to work on.
This is especially true if you are tired, or overwhelmed, or sick, or looking at a cake. Just don’t give up. Do better.
Sometimes the distractions can sneak up on us. You let your mind wander a few extra minutes while sipping your coffee. You start something and then answer the phone. That interruption seems easy enough to deal with even though it’s not urgent so you go ahead and do it. Now what were you working on? Oh yeah the thing, the one that is important and you started, but where did you leave off? Before you figure that out, it’s time to go to the appointment you almost forgot about.
A few days of this and you are even more exhausted. And you still haven’t written the blog post you meant to have done on Monday. So, here are a few tips to get back on track. I know they work because as you may be able to tell, this is what is happening to me this week. This is the plan that allowed me to get back to it and crank out a lot of work today.
Return to the basics. When that overwhelm creeps in, go back to the routines you set up to keep you on track in the first place. Do them quite deliberately. Close the door turn off the ringer and set a timer for 30 minutes at a time. Check calendar, return calls, answer emails, do the bring-in-the-money tasks. Then see what else there is time for.
Organizing systems are your safety net. When too many things are vying for your attention, deliberately place them where they belong. They will still be there when you are ready to process them. So, take a minute to add the call to your call list., the new business idea to your next opportunity list, and the fact that you just ran out of milk to the shopping list.
Rely on your holding places for your focus. By having defined places for holding onto the ideas until you are ready for them, you don’t have to worry about them. By setting up certain times during the week that you will focus on specific tasks, you know what to work on when. By keeping your workspace clear, you will only have the thing you are working on out, so that when you finish that phone call, you remember what you were working on.
Just start. Then jump in when ready. Sometimes the mind just needs to get primed. Just do the easiest thing on the task list for a particular project and then the next easiest for the next 10 minutes. Usually that is enough to get you moving forward again, and even if it isn’t, at least you have ticked a couple things off the list.
I started this blog post by finding the photo first. By the time I did that my brain was back on track. Remember, it is best to always look for forward motion, not perfection.
Let me know what got you off track and how you got back, if it’s not too distracting.