Sunday, 30 June 2013

Dealing With Distractions In Business

From the 'Drop the Monkey Business' column in The Galway Advertiser 27/06/2013 P.115

Driving home from beautiful Connemara in the west of Ireland last week when the sun was giving us one of our rare summer moments I came across a wonderful business. This commercial creation had a very interesting, successful and, I would imagine seldomly used trade model. When I asked the lovely lady who was working there for a business card as I wished to look them up online and email them thinking I may wish to make an order at a later date I was told, ‘No that’s not possible”.  She continued to tell me how they have no phone, no email, no website, no business cards and they have been running a successful business for over 20 years. What a story.  I was intrigued and continued to dig a little deeper. “These are all distractions that keep us from doing what we do well. Working.” said the lady with a big smile full of pride and rightly so, as she is spending 100 percent of her day doing what she loves doing with little or no disruptions.

Mastering the art of avoiding distractions can prove very difficult in today’s world of information overload. So many people have direct access to you via your smart phone and Internet. How do you filter out the noise and separate the unneeded distractions from the useful distractions so you can dedicate more focused time to tasks that will help you reach your goals quicker? I believe you need to reprogram your mind. Of course the above mentioned model is not for all, however it is good food for thought and a great starting point to ask: If we could start over with a blank canvas and use only what’s needed, how would we go about doing it? What would we do different? What is really needed?

The biggest distraction in the work place use to be: conducting personal business, daydreaming, running errands, and making personal phone calls. These are all distractions that you must go out of the way to do or engage with others. Now the Technology is getting really good at getting into peoples lives to distract and zap precious time, for example; the use of smart phones sending push notifications from the one of 100’s of apps that sit on your phone. You don’t have to go out of your way to find a distraction anymore; now the distraction will come and find you. How many times have you started your day fully committed to putting in a full 8 to 10 hours of work and then wondered why so little work actually got done? If you’re like me, the answer is "too many times!" You can talk all you want about using great selling techniques, having a brilliant business idea, how you are good at networking, good at planning, how you aim to boost your business, but all the technique in the world will add up to zero if you don’t disciple yourself to be selective with the incoming noise of the new generation technology. You need to apply some self-control and decide for yourself who you choose to communicate with and what you aim to get done on a daily bases. You must decide and be choosy about who is going to interrupt your space. If you find yourself giving too much time to Mark Zuckerberg, just remember, Facebook is a business who’s main ambition is to keep you on their site for as long as possible and they don’t pay you a wage. Okay, Facebook isn’t everybody’s distraction but is a solid example of what I am talking about. Identify what stops your focus and look for ways to overcome it. Take responsibility for what steals your time, be it apps or people. No one else can tell you what you need to do. How will you handle the distractions that keep you from accomplishing what you want to achieve in business and life?

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Back To Basics

From the 'Drop the Monkey Business' column in The Galway Advertiser 13/06/2013 P.95

With so much to do, to start, to join, to begin, to become and to be good at in today’s fast hitting, individually targeted and continually evolving world of constant overload of information, clubs, hobbies, be part of this and be a part of that for a better life, sometimes a great thing to actually do is to STOP, to slow down and take stock of everything in your life. A bit of self-love to focus your mind, wants and needs. See what needs to go, what needs to stay and what you need to start to make the journey that is life a little easier and a bit more enjoyable. Call it spring cleaning (which is not exclusive to spring!) detoxing, clearing out, getting rid of the old and making room for the new, it all comes down to one word. Change. I once heard a quote “Change nothing and nothing changes”. This is so true in every part of your life, be it business or otherwise. Einstein called the opposite a definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Yet, that’s where the majority of people seem to be most content.

If you wish to attract new passions and innovative ideas into the small space that you call yours it can be a great ritual to look at what no longer works and do a clear out.  Look at the old habits that you started years ago. When you really look at what you get out of that particular routine you may realize that it’s original benefits and needs have been fulfilled long ago and you no longer need to carry that thing. When you scale back all the noise that you identity as life you give yourself an opportunity to reengage with what matters most. You get back to basics. Back to the family, the people around you that matter most. Back to the hobby that really makes your heart skip a beat. You go back to doing the tiny tasks that may have been irrelevant once yet when you allow yourself to get stuck in the moment they indeed can put a smile on your face that goes from the left ear to the right. And it might be something as simple as cutting the grass, washing the dishes, enjoying every sip of your well earned cup of warm tea, helping your elderly neighbour take out the rubbish bins, or simply being on your own and taking time out for yourself. We do all have a pause button that we should press a little more often. It’s good to stop, to reflect and to change where change is needed. Like the sun when it does come out to stay, you have to allow the brilliant bits of you to shine. You can do this by removing all the unneeded surplus activities and hours of well-practiced procrastination.  You can do this by being comfortable in your own skin, being yourself and not what you think others want you to be. Where do you start? Just take one step at a time. Even the good things are habits too. Make the habit to stop doing the actions that don’t help you achieve your goals. Make it habit to try one new thing every so often, Maybe it’s only to go for that 20 minute daily walk that you don’t go for but know if you did it would make you feel a lot better than watching TV. Maybe it’s to pick up the phone and contact an old friend; maybe it’s to push your business to the next level. Maybe it’s just to get back to basics so you can build or rebuild. I am not a huge fan of the Nike Sportswear brand, but I must say they really have a slogan that can be applied to anything you wish to start, stop or when you want to put a little fire in the belly. Just do it!