I think one of the biggest challenges we face as solopreneurs is finding enough time to get everything done. There is the contracts that need to be prepared, the phone calls that need to be returned the fires that need to be put out and something ALWAYS needs to be tweeted. Then throw people in the mix, there is the kid that has a recital, the aunt that you need to visit and bae is always ready for a lovefest. It’s enough to drive a gal to drink (double thick strawberry shake please)!
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my office at 11:47pm and I could barely keep my eyes open. I was working on a major deadline for a client activation. What’s worse is that I still had to get in my car and drive 20 minutes home. One the drive home, between dodging deer and trying to stay awake, I remember being utterly pissed thinking that the client was probably snug in bed or at the very least in her PJs at home. But the truth is, I couldn’t actually be mad at the client. All week I had been inundated with distractions that kept throwing me off task.
It’s not like I don’t know how to shut down distractions, but somehow I had slipped back into a pattern of needing to be accessible to everyone. Honestly, I was afraid of appearing to be a selfish, cold, indifferent b*tch. And although I’m not any of those things, I didn’t want anyone to feel any kind of funny way about my behavior. Then it dawned on me, that waylaying criticisms wasn’t worth playing highway ping pong with Bambi at midnight.
I’m going to share 3 BIG “little distractions” that can sneak up on you and keep you from getting sh*t done.
1. Smart Phone Notifications: Yup, that cute little notification sound on your phone has your brain programmed to have a little seizure each time you hear the sound. Your heart races and your palms get all sweaty as you fumble to open a text to see a selfie of your sister saying how bored she is at work. Uhhhh, now that could have waited right?! Now tally up all the notifications you have on your phone; email, social media, calendar reminders, alarms, funky fresh apps… whew! So imagine how many times a day you are distracted! Finance and Productivity Expert, Derek Lee says that it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 minutes to regain your laser focus once it’s been broken. He recommends shutting off your mobile devices in 90 minute intervals and engage in super intense, laser focused productivity sessions. These are something Derek calls “jam sessions”. Jam a few of times a day and watch your productivity increase.
2. Clients: Yes, client emails, meetings and “I just had a quick question” phone calls can add up to quite a few hours lost in a week. Because they are paying the bills, we tend to cater to our clients giving them full out access to us whenever they call. Welp, the gold standard of service can easily apply to a Madison Avenue agency, but it’s a little bit harder for Sally Sue who has a staff of 1, 2 or few. Schedule blocks of time in your day to respond to client requests and specific days of the week for meetings. And I try to convince as many clients as possible to convert to conference calls or Skype. And recently one of my colleagues introduced me to GLIDE, a live video messaging app. It’s a totally awesome way to communicate in quick snippets (GLIDE ME BABY!!).
3. Family: Errr, yeah… this one stings! But every business owner has been faced with the task of training their family. We had to teach them that being SELF employed is still indeed having a job, we are just our own boss. Your kids want to come in to the office and play with you in the middle of a client deadline or your sister wants you to go shopping with her on her day off (which isn’t your day off) or… well I can on and on about this one. The point is, your family has be trained to respect your work boundaries. That means they get clear instructions on when they can have access to you and an honest explanation of why boundaries are being set. Now here is the kicker!! They are going to TRY you repeatedly to see if you give in. Because our family is not accustomed to us telling them “not now”. This re-programming will take time and a willingness to consistency stick to the rules no matter what. Because the first time you let your rules “slide”, it sends the message that your boundaries are rubber rather than concrete.
Note To Moms: I KNOW you feel guilty about not being immediately accessible to your kids at ALL times. But the truth is you are the only person in the world that they expect that from. They understand that teachers, friends and other adults have times allocated to do other things, why should you be any different. Train them to understand that THEY have specific time with Mommy and then make that time AWESOME! It will become something they look forward to instead of resenting your work time.
Here’s to getting sh*t done!