Five Tips for Staying Focused

If you are a small publisher or an independently published author, you wear many hats. Some of these hats include: writer, editor, proof reader, copywriter, blogger, marketer, publicist, and social media strategist.

With so many hat and tasks, sometimes it is hard to focus on just one. However, studies have shown that people are the most productive when they don’t multitask. Instead, your productivity is maximized when you are able to concentrate on just one task and get in the flow.

If you are having a hard time focusing on one task and find that you are not accomplishing as much as you would like to, consider these five strategies for focusing.

1. Schedule your tasks.
Studies show that chunking tasks in time intervals throughout the day is conducive to focusing on that task and accomplishing more. Schedule chunks of time for various tasks. If you want to write, schedule an hour in your day for writing. If you want to spend time on marketing tasks, schedule that into your day.

2. Turn off distractions.
To focus and get into the flow, turn off distractions. Turn off your cell phone. Turn off the notifications on your computer that pop up when you have a new email. Turn off anything that draws your attention and makes you lose focus. You might even need to put a bark collar on the dog or wear noise-cancelling earphone.

3. Allow yourself breaks.
Don’t overdo. Studies show that are maximum for concentration is an hour. After that, we lose the flow and productivity. So, after 45 minutes to an hour, give yourself a 15-minute break. Check your emails and your messages. Get something to drink. Stretch and walk around. Then come back and work on the next task in your schedule.

4. Use an accountability partner.
Using the buddy system can work wonders for focusing. Simply knowing that you have told someone what you aim to accomplish and knowing that they will ask you if you have done it provides great incentive to focus and accomplish a task. Find another small publisher or writer and get some accountability.

5. Reward yourself.
Set goals for yourself and give yourself a reward when you reach them. For example, if you are writing, set a word count for yourself. If you reach it, then give yourself a reward. Consider a Starbucks’ coffee, a pick me up smoothie, or a nice cup of tea. Giving yourself small rewards that acknowledge your accomplishments provides you additional incentive to focus and accomplish goals.

When you start to feel overwhelmed, start with one thing. Do that one thing using the techniques described here to stay focused. Remember, focused activity leads to more productivity.

Do you have any techniques for staying focused that weren’t mentioned here? Please share them with me and others who read this in the comments.

Related Posts:
Is Multitasking Harming Your Productivity?
Do You Have This Habit?
Do You Have a Focus Group?

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.

Photo courtesy of SplitShire

Is Multitasking Harming Your Productivity?

In high school, I rode the bus to and from school for a year. I loved the bus ride and the social time with other teenagers. On the bus, I often participated in multiple conversations at once. I attempted to listen and respond to two or three different subjects being discussed. Of course, I was fooling myself. In my effort to not miss out on anything, I was multitasking and actually missing quite a bit of each conversation.

Multitasking

Multitasking is when you try to accomplish two or more things at once that require mental concentration. Do you try to accomplish more by multitasking? Maybe you try to talk on the phone while you check your emails. Or, maybe you listen to a podcast while you catch up on your social media networking.

Did you know that multitasking actually leads to less productivity? According to Harvard Business Review, studies have found:

  • Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity.
  • Multitaskers make up to 50% more errors.
  • Multitasking causes a 10% drop in IQ.

In actuality, the human brain can’t handle more than one task at a time. Even though we think we are doing two tasks, our brain is really switching back and forth between the tasks. In his book, Brain Rules, Brian Medina points out that it takes more time to get things done when you try to multitask. People who are interrupted—and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth—take 50% longer to accomplish a task.

So, how can you improve your productivity? Stop multitasking. Instead, chunk your tasks.

Chunking involves working on one thing at a time for short periods of time. Set aside time each day to do specific tasks. So, instead of constantly checking your email or social media sites while attempting to write a chapter in your next book or work on advertising text, plan to check email and social media a few times a day—maybe at 9:00am, 1:00pm, and 5:00pm. Decide to spend a limited amount of time on these tasks, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, then switch to another task that requires your attention.

Don’t waste precious time on multitasking. As an independently published author or small publisher, you wear many hats and have numerous tasks that you must accomplish each day. Instead of trying to do two or three things at once, spend highly concentrated time on specific tasks and you will find that you become more productive.

Bookmark and Share

Related Posts:
Three Lessons from a Successful Entrepreneur
Do You Need a Marketing Template?
Surfing the Book Sale Wave

Don’t miss out on any of the great information shared in this blog. Subscribe to receive each post in your email box. Just click here.