Get down to business Let's focus on your business

What do you mean? I am focused!

It’s a new year and time to give your business renewed focus. You’ve set your business goals for 2016, so why not give your business a boost and really achieve them? To help you do that, I want to share with you one of my own best business tips: FOCUS.

Yeah, yeah. You’re probably thinking that you are focused. And who am I to tell you any different? As a marketing consultant or an agency, you focus really hard on providing your clients with great service that helps them achieve their business goals. They rely on you as the marketing expert, but when was the last time you applied that expertise to your own business?

Why focus matters for you

If you don’t focus on achieving one thing at a time, your marketing business will suffer. I understand that everyone has many things to do in the course of a day, but we need to give one thing the most attention at any one time, and it shouldn’t be the thing that has become an emergency — it should be the thing that is going to help us the most.

Someone once asked me ‘what happens if you try to chase two rabbits at the same time?’ Of course the answer is that you don’t catch either of them. That’s what can happen with our businesses as well — we try to do too many things at once and end up not doing anything well or effectively.

If we focus on one thing at a time, we actually get things done more quickly.

Multi-tasking is really a fallacy, as it means switching mental states between tasks and we just can’t do that rapidly. So, what actually happens is not that we’re doing many things at the same time, we’re just switching tasks after very short bursts of attention, and it doesn’t work.

It’s much better to concentrate on one thing for a set period of time or until the job is done. Then you’ve achieved something, rather than trying to do too much at once and not finishing anything.

Focusing on one thing at a time also gives you as sense of achievement (which we could all do with more of!) Because you are doing one thing, you get it finished more quickly, and you can look back with a happy glow and tick that thing of your too-long to-do list!

How to create focus in three easy steps:

1. Set goals

You can’t create focus unless you know what you should be focused ON, so pick something that you want to achieve (it should be something that will move you forward in your business), and set a goal around it.

A good goal is something that is measurable and time-bound, i.e. you need to quantify it and have a deadline. For example, ‘I want more prospects’ is not a proper goal, but ‘I want to gain an additional 250 small business client leads by adding them to my marketing tips newsletter by the end of April’ is a great goal. If you’re at all confused about that, ask yourself ‘will I know when I’m done?’ If you answer ‘yes’, then it’s probably a good goal.

2. Have a current project

I picked up this tip from a great book by Mark Forster called ‘Do It Tomorrow’ (isn’t that a brilliant title?), and it’s very simple. All you have to do is designate one thing that you want to achieve as your ‘current project’, and the rule is that you dedicate the first 15 minutes of every day working on it.

Yep, that’s it — 15 minutes. You can do more if you want to, but you only need to set aside 15 minutes.

However, this only works if you do it before anything else, e.g. no ‘just quickly checking email’, no ‘wondering what’s on Facebook’, no ‘just catching up with the industry news’. You can’t do anything else at all until you’ve done your 15 minute project.

It sounds silly, but I promise that this works. It’s amazing what you can achieve in 15 minute chunks. Think about how much your consultancy or agency would benefit from 15 minutes’ focus on your sales funnel every day. How many more potential clients would that be?

3. Keep to a schedule

In addition to your current project, I want you to set aside time in your calendar to do specific jobs. This will ensure that your whole day doesn’t get eaten away by ‘busy-work’, because ‘doing things’ is not the same as ‘getting things done’.

For me, this means not having my whole day eaten up by reading and responding to email — you might be the same, or it might be something else that swallows your time but doesn’t really get you anywhere.

The truth is that work will expand to fit the time available, so if you limit the time available for individual tasks, then you can usually get the required work done in that time.

So, all you need to do is block out a chunk of time in your calendar to write your marketing tips newsletter, for example, and make sure that you do it in the time allowed.