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Victoria Munro of Make-it-FlyTen Tips to Keep You Focused
In a World of Distractions
By Victoria Munro

Printable version

“The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere. The superior person is committed to focus.” – Mencius (Chinese Philospher)

1. Develop Your Focus Fitness
Our ability to concentrate and focus is like a muscle that is strengthened through exercise. Jumping from one task to the next is less productive. In their book TechnoStress: Coping with Technology @Work @Home @Play, co-authors Drs. Rosen and Weil note that “Multitasking diminishes your productivity and makes you work harder just to feel like you are barely keeping up with all your work.”

2. Beware of Subtle Focus Stealers
Worrying thoughts, unrelated to the task at hand, can creep in and rob your concentration. Suddenly remembering something you need to do or tell someone can send your thoughts off at a tangent. Always keep a Conference Planner or notepad close by. Make a note of your concern and return promptly to what you were doing.

3. Be Present – It’s Powerful
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, develop a habit of being very present. Notice the details, think about them – whether in a document you must study or a visit to a client’s office. Relish the moment and resist the temptation to let your thoughts wander.

4. Put on the Blinders
The leather flaps attached to a horse's bridle limit side vision and help him look forward, keeping potential distractions to a minimum. When you need to concentrate, eliminate distractions and background noise such as the radio or TV. Experts tell us that a part of our brain stays centered on these and lessens our capacity to focus.

5. Build in Bonuses
Give yourself rewards when you finish a project – something you will look forward to and enjoy. Make the reward equal to the difficulty and length of the task – it could be your favorite iced latte, an hour off to stroll around the park or a week’s vacation.

6. Make the Most of Your Prime Time
Know what time of day or night you’re most productive and creative. Plan to block out hours during this time to focus on those tough projects that need your best attention.

7. You’re Not Superman!
Running a small business requires you to wear many different hats and keep many balls in the air – it can feel overwhelming. Accept the fact that you simply can’t do it all. Be willing to let some things go and extend deadlines when needed. Take time first thing in the morning or at the end of the day to review your situation – see it from 30,000 feet. Make note of and prioritize your top three tasks for the day ahead, keep the list where you’ll see it, then work through the tasks in order.

8. Limit Interruptions
Constant interruptions will kill any hope of clear focus. If interruptions are a normal part of your workday, become proactive and plan ahead to avoid them. Identify and make plans to eliminate them.

9. Make the Most of Meetings
When planning a meeting, define and focus on the reason for the event and stick to it. Start and finish on time. Don’t allow meetings to last longer than necessary – your time and that of other attendees is valuable.

10. Keep Your Eye on the Carrot
What is your ultimate goal? What does it look like? How clearly have you defined it? How badly do you want to achieve it? A crystal-clear long-range goal is like the proverbial carrot on a stick – the incentive that keeps the horse trotting forward. Without it, you can easily become distracted and wander off course, and waste precious time and resources exploring unnecessary side trails or lose your focus completely. Keep a laser focus on your ultimate goal.

(618 words)
© 2005-2007 Victoria Munro.

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About the Author: Victoria Munro is co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small-business owners through creatively designed programs and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at:, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.

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