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Want to Minimize Distractions? Try These Unconventional Approaches

Posted by Dave Clarke on August 24, 2014 at 6:28 AM

It's a universal truth that for small business owners, the day can get away from you—fast. Customers, clients, vendors, emergencies, events, weather... there are a million things that can distract you from what you need to do on a daily basis. But that's what running a small business is all about, right?

Sort of. For most small business owners, business is life and life is business—for better or worse. But you can use that to your advantage as a way to minimize distractions if you're constantly falling victim to the day getting away from you. Here are a few tips...

Wake Up Early

Know when most entrepreneurs get the bulk of their work done? When no one else is up. It sounds cruel, but other people are the primary reasons why we get distracted during the day. So give it a try. Wake up at, say, 5:30 a.m. and block off 90 minutes during which you'll complete specific work items. (Bonus Tip: make a to-do list the night before.) Not only will you find yourself getting more done, but you'll actually be happier. According to a University of Toronto study, "early risers are happier and healthier than people who like to stay up late. 'Morningness' might be associated with greater positive emotion in all age groups in relation to the concept of 'social jet lag.'" (So while you're at it waking up early, go to bed earlier too!)

Set Breaks

It's considered a badge of honor to work through lunch. Only slackers take breaks! While ideas like that may be the perception, it's not the truth when it comes to productivity and minimizing distraction. In fact, you hit a plateau during the work day: work for 10 hours straight and you'll have stopped being productive well before you hit the 10 hour mark. The actually inflection point varies from person to person, but the point is that a huge chunk of hours worked does not translate into optimal productivity. Your brain needs a break! So take a lunch. Go get coffee with an employee. Even a 20 minute walk between work sessions can improve your brain's productivity and minimize that distracted feeling.

Identify Your Work Style

There are countless articles out there that claim to have the secret to ultimate productivity. But the truth is this: everyone's different. Some people are great at processing a variety of tasks as they come in, in real-time. Others need to concentrate on one thing (say, invoicing) at a time. Some people may need to dedicate one hour a day to email while others prefer to process it as it comes in, on a rolling basis. But the bottom line is this: identify your work style, follow it, and you'll find yourself getting distracted less.

Communicate to Your Employees

Employees are great, but they're also a source of distraction (sometimes). Make it clear to your employees when your "Do Not Disturb" hours are. That way, you can get your work done and they can perhaps solve an issue or a problem that they'd normally ping you for help on themselves!

So how do you minimize distractions? Tell us on Twitter!

Topics: Small Biz Tips