I am boldly stating that one of the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs face with their ventures, or any type of online work for that manner, is to maintain keen focus on a task until completion. Being entrepreneurs (or aspiring ones) we are innately inquisitive to a point where learning about new and exciting topics can be a detriment to our productivity. In my case, I can’t help but uncovering a trail of interesting links: like a blog article that will help me market my brand on social media, then clicking a link that will show me how to boost my person brand, then of course I have to check out the author’s Twitter… I can’t help but to follow the bread crumbs (Is that the phrase?). All these social platforms that aggregate, syndicate and pollinate web content helps make social media enthusiasts’ lives easier by helping them discover and share information that they find important. However, on the other side of the coin, they create easily accessible distractions that can help steer you off course. How can you find a balance between information input and output?…Here are 5 practical ideas to help you get there while working online:
1. Map 0ut your milestones ahead of time:
This is a key to the success in any endeavor! I typically break down my list to three month periods, monthly milestones, weekly items and daily tasks (read this article by Jun Loayza to figure out how to do this). Make sure each milestone written down aligns with your core focus in some way. If it doesn’t, that task is secondary and must not be completed until your core milestones are finished. This will let you envision your path before you have to pull out the machete and blaze the trail.
2. Use Google Tasks or another ToDo List Service:
I use Google Tasks (a tool included with Gmail) to organize my weekly milestones. I believe keeping this list in your peripheral is vital. I say peripheral because having the list in the forefront is time consuming in its self and will gives your anxiety when you glance at the empty check boxes. This list will hold you accountable and keep you in check (no pun) while you are performing a task. No lie, checking a box once you fully completing a task is strangely satisfying. Check out this list of other ToDo list products if Google Tasks doesn’t do it for you.
3. Limit yourself to 3 browser tabs at one time:
To be open, I don’t abide by this tip enough. But I have found that it works wonders when followed. Why? First of all, it allows you to only work with the bare essentials. A task can get bogged down by extraneous garbage all the time; therefore the bare essentials are essential. For example: on my browser, I will have my Gmail (and task list), Pandora, and whatever internet program I am using to complete the task at hand. Resist the temptation to tweet what you’re doing or to check you Facebook newsfeed…if you can’t…break the task down into smaller segments and complete that segment before giving in.
4. Turn off all IM programs or set your status as “busy”:
Believe me Gchat, Yahoo Messenger and Skype all provide users with amazing features and utility( I got through my cooperate stint with a little help from Yahoo emoticons), however the “ping, ping, ping” can throw you off. I keep Gchat on the majority of the time because I am almost always logged into my Gmail (normal just to keep the task tab populated). I make sure to keep my Gchat on “busy” or sometimes “invisible” if I really need to focus. “Busy” makes it so friends and other contacts can still ping me at anytime…but they will most likely ask me when a good time to talk is (not D Gip). Be warm and accept messages from everyone…but never to the extent that it throws you off task.
5. Set aside time to read article and subscribe to interesting blogs.
This one is very important in the age of social media. I try my hardest to set time aside early in the morning and late at night to read interesting articles I stumbled upon during the day. If I come across something interesting on Twitter, or else where, I will bookmark that article in Delicious to read later. If the overall theme and content of the blog engages me right away I will subscribe to it and toss it in my reader. This method makes sure that you keep your very important milestones in the forefront during the bulk of your day and keeps the beginning and end stimulating.
If you don’t take my word for it, leave it to me favorite psychologist of all time emphasize it eloquently: “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook”- William James
If you or a friend suffers from Internet ADD please pass this along. This article can help!