Distractions from getting work done can be an ever-present and major issue, especially if you’re both a parent and a small business owner. I would know – I’m a Father, a small business owner, and a business student. I have experience with needing to juggle multiple things in a day, needing to work from home, and needing to make sure I stay focused and get my work done.
While I can’t say I’m perfect at being productive, here’s some tips I’ve found to help stay focused and get work done:
Four Essential Tips:
- Use a tool to block distracting websites. During my early years of study I had the bad-habit of having Facebook open in the background whenever I was at the computer. While I stayed up-to-date with feeds and posts, the result was I’d end up checking Facebook every 10 minutes or so and not getting any effective work or study done. And so I have to recommend that while you’re working don’t check your social media – or any other sites for that matter which may distract you, such as your auction listings, daily deal sites, or so on. Better yet, if you really need help not checking them, use a tool to block access while you’re at work. An example to do this is Cold Turkey (http://getcoldturkey.com/), a program which will block any sites you choose. You can even program it to block sites for a set amount of time and it will prevent you from making changes to the list of blocked sites until the time is up – for those days when you just really need to stay focused and stop constantly checking if that video you uploaded last night has gone viral yet.
- Don’t multitask. The other day my partner got angry with me for forgetting something she’d asked me to do. Unfortunately, this happens to me every now and then. However I find it happens after situations in which my focus is split: such as while the kids are in the room playing, my partner is asking me to do something later that day, and I’m trying to finish typing something on the computer before I lose my train of thought. Something has to give in such a situation, and that something is often decreased output in all the areas I’m attempting to do – not paying attention to the kids, not listening to my partner, and not fully achieving my work. In fact, studies show that multitasking results in decreased performance and accuracy in the tasks you’re concurrently doing. Thus while multitasking may be a necessity and a valuable skill-set for some areas of modern life and for being a parent, it is also a killer of good quality work. Focus on one thing at once, and then move your focus to the next thing.
- Do something, and then forget about it. You know you’ve been there – you’ve sent an email, for example, and then started worrying that maybe you forgot to mention some important piece of information, or started worrying that you wrote “lol” in the wrong place and so the whole email might be taken in the wrong way. This dwelling on a pervious task from the past distracts you from getting things done in the present. In fact, completing a task and then instantly moving on is an ability I believe many successful people tend to have: they can make decisions and then move on, or ask questions and then move on, or complete actions and then move on – all without having to replay the tasks in their heads and thus preventing them from focusing on other, more current, things. Learn from situations, but don’t dwell on them.
- Prioritise. Sort the tasks on your to-do list into order of the most important, or the most valuable, or the most difficult first. Then once you do it, congratulate yourself on getting the honestly most important thing accomplished that day. This way you’ll get the things that really matter done, and get the things which sort of need doing but which, in the long-run, don’t really matter all that much done only once you’ve gotten your truly valuable work out of the way.
While this list of tips is not exhaustive, it is a few things I’ve found have helped me. What tips do you have for staying focused and getting the work done?
Author Bio: Max Bell is the Father of two young children, a small business owners, and a student studying a Bachelor of Business Studies at Massey University. He also writes online at obstaclemethod.movementunleashed.com.
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