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The Importance of Focus – by Jon
Focus, focus, focus. It’s a mantra we often hear but what does it really mean? Particularly, what does it mean in a business sense for us small business owners?
Here’s my interpretation and an exhortation from me to put it into your business context and ask yourself – do we have focus?
I’m going to talk (write?) about three distinct types of focus, all important for us.
• Focusing ourselves and our time
• Focusing our businesses
• Focusing our marketing
Focusing ourselves and our time
In this modern working day, we are constantly interrupted by phone calls, mobile phone calls, text messages, emails, employees (why can’t they just get on with their work?), customers (very tempted to make a joke here) and sometime even our partners and our kids.
(Who saw that excellent TV show “Very Small Business”?
Quote: “I’m trying to run a business here, I haven’t got time to be their father as well”)
That’s before we allow Facebook, MySpace, eBay and instant messaging from our friends to break our concentration. Sometimes (and I swear some people do this) I think I could spend the whole day just fiddling about with stuff like this and end up getting nothing done at all. If you are nodding now, then I don’t think you are alone.
On top of the culture of interruption we find ourselves in, we have to contend with a workplace and a business environment that makes myriad demands on our time and attention. If you sat down and made a list of all the things you have to get to over the next few days, I bet you wouldn’t be able to fit it all on one page!
So, there’s the difficulty of focusing on what are the important tasks, too, not to mention taking time to think about where your business should be going and what you should be doing to drive it in that direction.
If you don’t consciously focus your time on making sure you attend to the important things – the ones that will help you succeed, then it’s very easy to find all your time taken up by urgent but non-essential activities or by fiddling about with the other stuff.
Some simple ideas for helping you get some focus back from this demanding world:
• Turn off the email notifications, so you don’t jump up and read every piece of spam that comes into your inbox. Better still, turn your email off for a couple of hours at a time so you can get things done.
• Same for phones, mobile phones and your office door (shut the door, I know you can’t turn them off, unless you are in a spaceship). Tell people you are doing this and make sure they understand that there will be a time when you will speak to them or return their calls.
• Write a list of the tasks you have to get to. It will frustrate you but the next part is much more fun. For each one, either do it, ditch it or delegate it – straight away, no deferring!
o If it’s not vital for your business or if someone else can deal with it, get rid of it – ditch or delegate. Be ruthless. Most of it is rubbish anyway.
(Try this: anything that you feel like deferring, defer it into a file you can ignore or a pile on your desk. If it is important, someone will get back to you. Really, they will!)
• Put the important things at the top of the list or on a separate list called “Important Jobs” (Sorry). Then make time to do the important ones and let some of the other stuff slip.
This is called prioritisation and I think it is an increasingly important part of business practice. You will never get everything done – the work multiplies to fill and then overfill the time you have available to do work. It’s no use working harder – work makes more work, anyway.
Accept the fact that you won’t get through it all then get used to the idea that not doing it all is OK and your business won’t fail. Then do some of the important stuff rather than wasting all your time