Small business and startup tips: 5 ways to tune out distractions!

Distractions abound.  Every day we start work and spend a great part of the day battling the noise that surrounds any small business owner or entrepreneur. The email, the Facebook, the Twitter, the cell phone, the landline, the snail mail, the deliveries, the lunch orders, the radio,the text messages, the  television, the newspapers, the YouTube videos – all conspire to dilute our focus, stifle our creativity, and distract from what is really important: growing our business in a productive, efficient environment. Finding ways to tune it out is important; sometimes a lack of noise helps you to think creatively, focus on what you need to accomplish, and reflect on what is working with your business and what is not. Great ideas can come in ways that surprise you, but rarely come amid the hubbub of everyday distraction.  So… here are 5 ideas of practical steps you can take to reduce the noise.

1. Turn off the apps. Try to limit your time with email, twitter, Facebook and the rest to specific times of the day. The constant ding-ding of alerts can greatly diminish your ability to get other work done. I find that if I can ignore the incoming messages (whatever source the come from) I can think more clearly about what I am working on, accomplish goals in a shorter time, and complete my other tasks more efficiently and effectively. Productivity is only measured by what you actually accomplish, not by how many emails you read, tweets you send, or blogs you read, so my recommendation is that you literally turn off those programs and feeds at certain times of the day and only turn them back on when you are ready to focus on them.

2. Work from homeThe office can be a dark, bubbling tar-pit of conversations, jokes, music, and a multitude of other interruptions, all conspiring to keep you from your work and to hamper your ideas. Working from home allows you to pro-actively tune out the distractions and the commotion that come with working around a larger group of people.

3. Unsubscribe. I suspect that I have  subscriptions to 80 or 100 different blogs, newsletters, and email lists. These tend to pile up over time, many going unread and many others providing time-killing content, much of which I could do without. Purge, purge, purge – take the time to unsubscribe and cut these lists down to the ones that provide you real value and information that you actually use.

4. Make a list. Keep there clamor down by tuning it out with lists of the important things you are trying to accomplish on any given day, week, or month. I am a huge believer in using checklists to manage time, but they also serve to quiet the din that accompanies you everyday work.

5. Schedule yourself. A schedule can also help to reduce the interruptions that come with work. Scheduled meetings can cut down on the impromptu conversations, emails, and IM’s that accompany any project-in-progress by formalizing the conversation and questions that necessarily accompany a team effort. Scheduled phone calls will help to offhand calls that people make just because the “need to ask one quick question.” By scheduling time that is specifically devoted to a project or effort, you can reduce the number of unplanned, spontaneous interruptions that often dominate our days.

Photo: underminingme