Tips on Managing a Business with a Short Attention Span
A small business environment is one that lends itself readily to distraction if you are not careful to focus on the priorities you have defined for yourself. This can be especially true if you know that you have a personality that is prone to distraction. A restless mind is by no means a bad thing, and as an entrepreneur you will often be well served by the ability to quickly shift gears and think on your feet. When the time comes for less exciting tasks, however, you might find yourself slipping more than you would like to. In order to manage your productivity while acknowledging the nature of your attention span, consider the following ideas for getting through the workday.
Don’t over-caffeinate. Caffeine, when used in a responsible amount, has been generally found to not produce significant side effects, and is recognized as a legitimate aid to productivity within reason. It’s the “within reason” part, however, that some business owners can have problems with, especially if they are not naturally morning people, are significantly stressed by business or external factors or have become dependent on caffeine in order to feel like they are able to work. For people with a natural propensity for distraction, a little bit of caffeine can be a very good thing, but consuming too much can lead to an inability to focus on a task for more than a few minutes and reinforce the issues of inattention as opposed to calming them. If you find that you are unable to focus after a certain point, try tapering your coffee habit to a more moderate level and see if that produces a positive effect.
Take short breaks. When you sit down to do something, and begin to feel distraction take hold, sometimes it’s better to give in temporarily rather than wrestle with yourself for longer than it would take to simply get up and take a breather. In the same way that a short vacation can be better than no vacation, a little break of no more than a few minutes can do a lot to revitalize you when your mind is somewhere else. While this is not an excuse to get up and pace every five minutes, it is perfectly acceptable to take a short break to refocus after completing a task and before you move on to the next.
Delegate tasks that you have difficulty focusing on if possible. For many people, there will be one task that they simply hate to perform. Whatever it is, if it not essential that you handle it directly, you should strongly consider delegating it to someone else. Delegating your task does not mean excusing yourself from being involved, it simply means making sure that the parts of it that give the most trouble are handled effectively by an employee you trust, with time for your to review at critical stages. Don’t become obsessed with the idea that everything has to go through you 100% of the time. If you have a roadblock that you would be better off letting a subordinate manage, focus on other essential tasks while making sure the ones you don’t personally handle get done.
Know what distracts you so you can avoid it. This is akin to saying “know thyself”, but there is a reason why that adage is still around, the reason being; if you know what makes yourself tick, you can create an environment that works with you and not against you. For example, if you are the type who will be in the middle of handling something and suddenly feel the urge to check facebook, you might want to uninstall the app from your phone, or temporarily block the site on your browser using a productivity plugin.
Photo Credit to Dani Ihtatho on Flickr