Saturday, January 14, 2012

8 Strategies to Get Your Business in a Distraction Free Zone

Physical and mental distractions are stunting the growth of your freelance business. In line with getting focused on my writing career for 2012, I’ve vowed to cut out as many distractions as possible, at the computer and beyond.

Here are eight strategies to get your business in a distraction-free zone!

I know, I know. What? No Facebook? Yeah, exactly, just like it was 2003. If you’re serious about getting focused on your business and you’re not using Facebook for business, deactivate and switch to building your network on LinkedIn. You’ll no longer be tempted to wander off into Facebook Land the next time you’re at your computer. Best of all, you won’t have that constant nagging feeling of checking your messages or updating your status. Restore your focus (and maybe your privacy).

If you are using Facebook for business, only you can decide what is ‘enough’ time spent on this social media site for marketing, promoting your product or service. However, you should be cautious that your mind is not constantly wandering off to Facebook when you should be concentrating on something else – it’s the social media trap, if you’re not careful, you’ll get sucked in.
In the pursuit of learning all you can about building a business, being successful and making money you’ve probably subscribed to a ton of newsletters and blogs.

Here’s the deal, if you haven’t benefited from these inbox fillers, unsubscribe. Sean Platt of Ghostwriter Dad puts it in perspective:
Look for those voices that have accomplished things similar to what you would like to accomplish, then get rid of anything you could categorize as online clutter.
How often do you open your inbox to find a plethora of emails? It’s overwhelming and time consuming.

Keep your subscriptions to a bare, essential minimum. Let’s not hoard information, especially information that is just cluttering our minds and focus.
If you haven’t benefited from it in the past 6 months of subscription, it’s time to toss it out, only keep the voices that really matter and as Sean Platt advises, “Narrow the number of voices you listen to. It is really, really easy to get lost. There is an abundance of information and so much of it is appealing because it is free.”

This is a free, downloadable timer you can use to set yourself a block of time for concentration. You’re committed to 25 minutes of work based on the Pomodoro Technique. Once the timer rings, and your 25 minutes are up, you can step away from the computer and take a break.
This is a mental practice and you have to build your discipline to stay focused for those 25 minutes devoted to work. The app doesn’t close browsers or documents, and will give you a buzz once the 25 minutes are complete. It’s available as a free download.

No, really, Concentrate is an app for Mac users to switch between one task and another – offering complete focus on a single task. For instance, you create the category ‘writing’. You then customize particular actions you want to happen when you are concentrating, such as blocking social media sites, chat, and quit apps.

You’ll also customize what you want to happen when concentrating, such as a ‘growl’ sound to remind you not to daydream, open apps and docs associated with the task. As soon as you press the ‘concentrate’ button, everything goes into effect and you’re ready to unleash your freelance genius. Create as many categories as you want.

This app will allow you to switch between tasks without manually having to open and close apps/browsers. There is a download fee of $29.

There’s a lot going on during the day in my household. The phone rings, children need to get picked up and dropped off, and the same children need to be fed (or they’ll get cranky). As I am the CEO of My Household, getting an office space outside of home is not feasible at the moment. Instead, I wait for the world to fall asleep (or at least that’s what it feels like) and try to work my creative juices.
We’re smart people and we know that being a freelancer is really, extraordinarily hard work. This is especially true when you’re trying to launch your business and gain momentum. This is the time to get through the tough spots and keep going.

When I’m tempted to hit the snooze button during the insane morning hours, I remind myself that someone else’s alarm went off and they’ll be getting up. This usually helps me fight the cozy bed syndrome. Find the motivating thought that gets you out of bed each morning, or keeps you up at night and hold on to it as if your business depended on it – because it does.

You’ve spent all this time learning and soaking up what the ‘gurus’ are saying in your industry. Once you have the basics down, you have to believe you know enough. Now is the time to implement.
What you haven’t learned through reading, you’ll learn through trial and error. After all, experts usually get their expertise through the field. They learn from their mistakes, they track their mistakes and they start seeing what works. Repeat often until you’ve created your own recipe for success.
Your strategy is different than mine, and my strategy is different from the next person and that’s ok.
If you’ve doubted your freelance business, I encourage you to visit a local job fair in your area. Watch as the disappoint grows on the faces of the job seekers who came hopeful only to find most positions were 100% sales commission. It’s a reality check any freelancer can benefit from.
In the 2012 Writer’s Market, they provide a writing calendar. Each month has a goal to meet, or a reminder. December’s tidbit is: Evaluate your 2011 accomplishments and make 2012 goals. January: Make 2012 your best year freelancing yet! February: Use the extra day in February to submit your writing.

You get the drift. Set monthly goals (supplemented by weekly goals) for your freelance business. Before you know it, you’ll be evaluating your 2012 accomplishments, make sure you’re able to face yourself knowing you’ve done all you can to make your freelance business a success.
Let us know how you plan to make 2012 the year your freelance business takes flight.

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