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Keys to Help You Stay Focused
Part Two of a Three-Part Series

Key #2: Steer Clear of Distractions
By Victoria Munro          

Yielding to distractions will divert your focus and steal your time. In order to steer clear of distractions, we must be aware of our weaknesses in this area—those temptations that easily sabotage our focus. Distractions can be harmless—even noble—activities. They come in many forms and may be different for everyone.

Sandra has a kind heart and wants to help everyone. Friends, colleagues and even strangers often turn to her when they have a need. As a talented copywriter building her own business, she often struggles to balance her desire to do pro bono work for others with building her own company.

Potential Distraction: If youíre inclined to want to help everyone or have difficulty saying ďnoĒ to requests for your time, youíre not alone. Many business owners deal with this dilemma.
Possible Solution: Evaluate how much time you can, or feel you should, give each week or month, and don’t exceed those limits.

Potential Distraction: You canít run a business without a phone, but it can be hard to break a reactive habit of picking up the phone whenever it rings.
Possible Solution: Try designating ďphone-freeĒ periods during the day when you allow calls to go into voicemail and return them later. This allows productive blocks of time to focus on important tasks.

Potential Distraction: Email is efficient, but many now find itís out of control, consuming too much time.
Possible Solution: Close your email program and set two or three times a day to read and respond to email. Then schedule these times into your daily plan.

Potential Distraction: Itís easy to get bogged down with busywork—the myriad of tasks that need to be done, but certainly arenít high priorities.
Possible Solution: Start each day by clearly defining the one or two most important tasks you must accomplish. Write them out, post them in a prominent place and focus on completing these first. Donít confuse busyness with productivity!

Potential Distraction: You can probably do most things in your business very well, but donít be tempted to try and do it all yourself.
Possible Solution: Learn to let go and delegate in areas where you are weak. Know your strengths and build on them. Spend the majority of your time working in these areas.

Potential Distraction: Office clutter is a distraction that can fog your focus, divert your attention and waste your time.
Possible Solution: Create an efficient filing system, keep it up to date and then make a habit of putting everything in its place at the end of each day. If necessary, hire someone to help you with this vital task.

Entrepreneurs working from a home office face additional distractions.

Potential Distraction: TV can become a time-consuming addiction.
Possible Solution: Decide before watching when youíll turn it off—and do it.

Potential Distraction: Family interruptions can cause frustrating distractions that prevent concentration.
Possible Solution: Plan special time with family, but set and keep clear boundaries when youíre working. Share your frustrations with family members and ask for their help and suggestions. Post a sign that indicates when you are working, or close your office door.

Potential Distraction: Working all the time can result in burnout that erodes energy, motivation and focus.
Possible Solution: Post hours of business on your website and announce them in your voicemail message. Donít answer the phone after hours. Set regular business hours. Get up and dressed early, take care of morning chores, and go to the office (even if itís across the hall) on time each morning. Take your coffee and morning snack with you to save distracting trips to the kitchen later.

There is Enough Time for Whatís Important
We all have a finite number of hours in each day and, we choose how we spend those hours. When we decide to do something, by default we are choosing to sacrifice something else. We must be selective to stay focused. We must know whatís important to us, and then recognize and avoid distractions that get in the way.

Read Part One of this series. Read Part Three of this series.

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: www.Make-it-Fly.com, 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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