I read a statistic the other day that said on an average day, you will be interrupted every eight minutes. Every eight minutes your attention will be dragged away from what you’ re supposed to be doing, and directed toward something else. Every eight minutes you’ ll lose track of what you were doing. You’ ll slow right down. And you’ ll have to virtually start again.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you, but…”
“I have a call for you on line two…”
Every eight minutes.
It’ s amazing you can get anything done when you’ re distracted like that, let alone successfully run a business. And you’ve probably come to accept that it’ s normal. For many small business owners this state of overwhelm is thought of as ‘par for the course’.
It’ s not.
It’ s the way you’ve been conditioned to think and be. The majority of educational and cultural conditioning trains us to operate in overwhelm — to become Technicians (or ‘Doers’) — by piling work higher and deeper. The result is a society full of Technicians who are capable of working IN their lives and businesses, but not ON them.
You may think you thrive on the hustle and bustle of your office, and that things are being done, that work is underway.
Perhaps you operate an open door policy. Or you have open-plan offices.
But in order for you to work on your business, you need to do something you’re perhaps not used to doing.
You’ve got to learn to say “no”.
No to the distractions, no to the overwhelm you’ re living in right now, because it’ s holding you back.
You’ re probably so deep in the work of your business that you have literally no separation between yourself and the work. The high energy “hustle and bustle” you’ re in all the time makes the Technician in you happy, but it simply won’ t allow you the space, the time and the freedom you need to work on your business.
Your employees can (and should) work in the environment you’ve created. Let them do their jobs so that you can be the business owner, the leader, the visionary.
It’ s time to turn your creativity, your energy and your passion toward this amazing creation called your business. But to do that, you’ ll have to change some of your habits.
You need to consciously choose to say no to the distractions that you’re used to, and direct your attention instead toward productive habits.
To get started, set aside an hour a day to devote to ‘strategic’ work, where you need to be uninterrupted and focused. If necessary, leave your office and visit the local coffee shop, or stay at home and work for an hour or two before coming to the office.
And you must TRAIN your employees to respect your time and space. For example, if your office door is open, it means you are available. If your door is closed, you’re NOT to be disturbed. Pretty simple. But also highly effective.
The good news for you, is that you can retrain yourself with some hard work, perseverance and a commitment to improving yourself, your life and your business. Just because you cannot imagine it any other way, and don’ t know how to do it differently (yet!), doesn’ t mean it’ s impossible.
Just remember that part of the challenge has to do with turning off outside stimulus. It’ s about setting up an environment where those distractions that are fighting for your attention every eight minutes are kept at bay. Turn off the phone and shut your email down. Close your door. Sit down and focus intently on the strategic development of your business. Work on it.
If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend you read The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber. And if you have read it, I recommend you read it again!