I get distracted very, very easily by new things.
New gadgets (hello, Apple Watch), new tools, new systems. And above all else: new ideas.
I don’t actually buy many actual things (Apple Watch being a notable, big, exception) but I absolutely do buy into new ideas.
They’re just so shiny and pretty!
As you might expect, focus is one of my biggest challenges.
Over on my business blog I talk about the essential characteristics of a learning entrepreneur—focus is one of these very important qualities. My problem is that I am curious and flexible, and my schedule allows for that. So I often pivot between ideas too quickly, which means those ideas don’t ever get fully realized.
This GIF sums up the result nicely:
More time = less focus?
Last year I took a full-time job, and I left that job at the end of February with the intent to focus on my many projects. Keeping up that schedule just wasn’t sustainable, and I knew that to really grow my businesses, I not only needed the time, but also the ability to be open about what I was working on. I didn’t feel like I could do that while working for someone else.
So here I am, a full-time entrepreneur again, and I feel like I am less productive than before. I miss the structure I had when working that position, even though when I was in it, I often felt overwhelmed by all the regularly scheduled meetings (there were so many meetings, it never felt like there was time in the day to do the actual work I was paid to do).
I’ve been working with a client who has told me that large chunks of time are not productive for her—and I’m finding that’s true for me, too. (This NYT article even poses the idea that having a day job might mean better art.)
I have big, big projects I need to be working on, but instead I focus on smaller, administrative tasks, or I spend my time learning a new tool or system.
That’s not the way to go if I want to achieve my goals.
What bothers me even more is that I know EXACTLY what I need to do to make actual progress towards my goals. I feel like I’ve wasted the past (almost) 2 months, even though I also know that I actually have accomplished quite a bit. It’s not like I’ve just been laying around not doing anything. But I absolutely have not been using this time as wisely as I could.
I need more structure, and I need to make sure that structure has me focused on the right things.
In a recent Being Boss podcast episode, Melyssa Griffin talked about alignment with your business. It really struck home for me, so I did a little work this past weekend on realigning my focus.
Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a writer. When asked what my dream job would be, that’s even the answer I would give you now.
I have all the tools and resources to commit to this on a daily basis. I just haven’t made it a priority. So I’ve made some new promises to myself to write every day: 2 pages a day of my novel, and progress towards some other type of writing, such as blog posts, my nonfiction ebooks, or marketing copy.
Besides that, I’ve made it a goal to create for my business before doing other tasks.
So there are now two things I do before anything else—that includes email, admin stuff, chores, whatever—and that’s:
This is the first week of my new approach, and so far, I’ve already knocked off two huge projects that had been languishing on my to-do list. And I’m still making time for the other tasks I have to do. So far, I’m liking this new approach.
Focus on the Present
One of the reasons new things are so attractive is that they have none of the baggage of the past. A new project or a brand new goal doesn’t have the guilt that comes with prior failures or disappointments.
But I’m resisting creating “new” goals—I’m picking up these “old” goals instead and making them shiny and new.