An online business is as tough to manage as a physical one—perhaps even more difficult. In a physical business, there are no real distractions. You serve your customers, clean your store, and then move on.
In an online business, there are so many software tools to choose from and so many marketing strategies to implement. All of these, while important in running a business, are distractions. These are things that I want to call “noise”.
So, how do you avoid these distractions and focus on being productive?
Here are some of my recommended solutions:
- Turn off your email and chat apps
- Decide on your core business role
- Plan, do, check, and act
- Identify your time wasters
- Work in an isolated space
- Outsource some work
By the end of this tutorial, I hope I was able to help you find ways to de-clutter your mind from distractions, and eventually make you more productive than you are right now.
Let us dig in on each of the recommendations and see what we’ve got.
Turn Off Your Email and Chat Apps
Email and chat apps are two of the most common sources of distraction. If you are running an online business, you need to have some quiet time—it is not like a physical business where it is alright to get inundated by clients.
In a physical business, the sources of distraction are commonly the source of income, too. When people ask for ketchup, these people are the ones who paid for their hamburgers.
But this is not how it works in an online business.
People who send you emails and chat messages can wait, most especially so if these are your friends. To avoid distractions, keep your phone away, or have the mental dexterity to keep yourself from answering these messages after receiving them. Focus on the task at hand, and only answer these inquiries once your task is done.
I do not advocate turning off your phone nor keeping it silent. Keep it turned on, but have the discipline not to respond to anything that is not urgent.
Decide on Your Core Business Role
In the online world, you need to accomplish your step goals to make it work. If your task today is to set-up various shipping zones for your online store, you need to get that wrapped up so your store will function the way you want it to.
But is this the core of your role in your business?
While many people today are what we call solopreneurs, this does not mean that you should do everything. I understand that you have to wear the hat of different roles, but you cannot expect to be productive if you are taking on all these roles at the same time.
As the business owner, you should act like a manager—manage tasks and strategize. This does not mean that you will not get your hands dirty. Do the dirty work but focus on your function—you are the leader, and you should be analyzing the results of action plans, not doing the actions yourself.
Plan, Do, Check, and Act
To eliminate distractions, you have to follow one of the basic principles of psychology. It is called Plan, Do, Check, and Act, or PDCA.
In PDCA, you sit down and strategize about your plans. Once this plan is set in motion, you need to ensure that you execute the plan accordingly. There has to be a gatekeeping exercise, which means that at regular intervals, you need to check if your plan worked accordingly.
Now, if the plan is working well, and you are getting the results you want, you need to continue doing that and improve your current processes. If the action plan did not work out, you have to act accordingly.
What does this mean? You need to measure the results. If you want traffic and your action plan is to post one blog a month, you need to check at the end of the month if your traffic improved. If it did, by what percentage?
If you wrote blog posts daily, as compared to only once a week prior to the action plan, did your traffic improve by a significant margin? If not, you need to course-correct and ask yourself carefully, does the blog count really matter?
Identify Your Time Wasters
To avoid distractions, you need to determine which activities are wasting your time.
There is one disclaimer I need to point out here: some time-wasters are not exactly meaningless activities—they are important activities, too, but you do not have to do them all the time, or you perhaps should have someone else do them.
An example of a time-waster is your Google Analytics. You need to visit your stats, but doing this on a daily basis is not going to help. Do this once a month only, and spend maybe two to three hours analyzing your stats.
Whenever you view your Google stats, you need to do root cause analysis. As you do your root cause analysis, you need to be able to identify the underlying problems, and then create an action plan, which would take you to the PDCA.
Focus on the meaningful activities that will drive conversion and results, not on activities that do not add value.
Work in an Isolated Space
It is not unusual to see people who “work” in Starbucks and on the beaches. This, of course, is full of it. You cannot work in a place where there is a crowd. These images you see are nothing more than lifestyle photos to encourage you to buy their courses.
To avoid distractions, you need to work in an area where there are no distractions. Choose a room in your house and turn it into a work area. Your spouse and children must be off-limits, and they should understand that you cannot be bothered if you are working.
Outsource Some Work
The last piece of advice I have is to outsource some work to freelancers. Some tasks in your business like SEO are time wasters. Just hire somebody to correct the issues with your website, or someone who can do graphic art for you.
If you need videography, you need to outsource it too, instead of you trying to learn a new skill. Make better use of your time by utilizing it on strategy, not on technical labor.
Focus on marketing your products. Pay attention to planning and executing your ideas. Check if your action plans are working, and course-correct from the standpoint of a leader to get more things done.
Distractions are costly—they will eat up your time, derail your plans, and hinder your business growth. Too many times, online entrepreneurs get lost in a sea of tasks. They get overwhelmed, and this results in stress.
Over a long period of time, stress causes a person to break down, and give up on their online business, especially so if the business is not getting any positive results. Do not let this happen to you. Follow my six tips on how to avoid distractions and become more productive in your online business.
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