My Secrets to Productivity, How to Stay Focused When You Just Can’t

August 14, 2016 Career

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret today. I know that this blog mentions my productivity secrets in the title, but the real secret is that it’s really hard for me to be productive a lot of the time. I love my work and it totally energizes me. But there are parts of it that I have to power through. The thing is, while being an entrepreneur is amazing because you can create your own schedule and work at your own pace, it can also be a curse.

We are responsible for our own structured time and the key to working alone is intentionally putting those structures in place so that you always know what tricks to use to keep yourself focused. It’s really easy to wake up and get an invite to something fun when you’ve planned a day of work and think, Oh I’m an entrepreneur, I’m my own boss. I can get that work done tomorrow. I deserve a day of fun. But this is a slippery slope.

Here are three ways I set myself up for success every week. They’re super simple, but incredibly effective. Enjoy!

1. Schedule non-negotiable time when you’re working on certain projects and tasks. It’s so easy to get distracted with the emails piling in your inbox or the likes you’ve gotten on social media. I’ve been a victim of this many times, so I always block out 2 straight hours with no emails, no phone, and definitely no social media. I’ve found that when I focus, it’s usually 10x easier to get something done. Being scattered and all over the place is a sure fire way to fail. So make sure your have set aside the time to focus focus focus.

2. Get an accountability partner. Chances are you have at least one friend who is in the exact same position as you. They have a ton of work to do, a deep desire to be productive, and are struggling to get through their to do list. I find it incredibly motivating when I partner up with someone; we motivate and refocus each other on what’s really important. It almost becomes a game, where you’re both competing with yourself and motivated to support the other person along the way. You can do this easily through frequent text messaging, daily email, or even scheduled meet ups. Make it fun. You’re an entrepreneur because you want to be, remember?

3. Take breaks when you truly need them (especially when you find nothing is coming together). This is my favorite one. I love taking breaks. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really owned that my focus and attention doesn’t go much longer than 2 hours at a time (My editor Blair has learned this same thing about me). I think this is pretty typical for most people. You start to hit a wall after a while and you can just tell that your brain needs a break. For each person, that break will look different. For me, it’s going for a walk to get coffee. Other times it’s watching Ellen. And then oftentimes, I just need to call a good friend and talk about nothing for a few minutes. Find out what works for you and stop forcing yourself to be productive longer that your body is signalling you to be. There is power in honoring your truth.

Was this helpful? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and also learn what helps you stay focused and productive.

Thank you for reading.

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