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Distraction and the accompanying lack of focus and productivity are at the heart of why many online entrepreneurs fail to reach their goals. Starting an online business offers attractive benefits, particularly if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, but the constant distractions can easily set you back. While poor productivity will often stand in the way of success, there are methods you can follow to turn things around. Recognizing there is a problem is at the start of the process, with the following steps then helping you to get things done and reach your goals.

Dr. Mac Powell’s 6 Steps to becoming a more productive online entrepreneur:

Make a List

Starting the day without direction is a recipe for disaster. Most people need a plan that helps them maintain focus throughout the day-and creates a sense of reward and pride for staying on-task. In most cases, creating a list of plan at the end of the previous day will ensure you start the next morning off on the front foot. If you can, schedule the most important work first, or in some cases the easiest to accomplish to create a sense of achievement and momentum.   There will always be times when you need to deviate from your plans, but if you’re finding that you get to the end of the day with a longer list than you started with, you need to adjust the distractions that are preventing you from your goals.

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Remove Distractions

While you may have a solid plan in place, distractions can quickly move you off course. Working online makes people open to distractions, with many of your work and social activities taking place in the same location. Social media is a common culprit, often eating into work time. Watching YouTube videos and checking Facebook might seem like small distractions, but the time can add up, and worse, the ramping-up and calming-down cycle of performance can be severely impaired. Create more productive and creative pockets of time by removing distractions, logging out of accounts, and temporarily blocking specific sites using your browser plugins.

Use the Pomodoro Technique

You’re not a human not a machine, and developing a cycle of performance and engagement is critical.  One of the most popular systems of attentional engagement is the Pomodoro Technique. The application of the system can vary, but it usually involves structuring your work into 25-minute sessions, with a short break immediately after. After completing four of these cycles, you would typically then have a more extended break of around 30 minutes. You may need to adjust the system to suit your work habits, but it can help you complete highly focused work that is both intense and manageable.

Focus on Individual Tasks

Working online can be incredibly efficient, with all the tools and sites easily accessible from your computer. This efficiency can, however, pose some additional problems. You can find yourself moving between tasks, or responding to messages and emails while trying to complete other work. A more productive strategy is to focus on individual tasks, only moving on when the current task is complete. This method allows for total focus, ensuring you are dedicated to a single requirement.

Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Setting goals offers motivation, but it also creates accountability. Understanding what you are aiming to achieve lets you track progress and ensure you don’t get distracted. Short-term and long-term goals are essential to this process. Short-term goals allow you to achieve some wins, helping to keep you motivated while contributing to the overall plan. Long-term goals might alter as you progress, but they let you see how far you have come. It can be hard to see progress when you are focused on daily activities, but long-term goals highlight the overall achievements. I keep a list in my shared files that has three columns: Today, This Week, and This Year.  The “Today List” gets completed every day, with occasional carryover; “This Week” gets revised Sunday evening; and “This Year” typically only gets modified on December 31st before the Champagne is served before midnight.  I find that the more diligent I am with clearing my tasks every day, the easier it is to stay on task toward my yearly goals.

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help motivate and inspire you. Positive influences can be found in many different capacities, including the people you associate with and the content you consume. You can meet other entrepreneurs at events, conferences, and online. Positive influences can also be found in your daily habits, with insightful blogs, training programs, and Facebook groups all ensuring you receive sound advice and positivity regularly.

Productivity is an issue for most online entrepreneurs, with so many distractions. Even if you can focus consistently, though, there are always additional gains you can make. Developing a systematic approach to your work ensures you focus on the essential tasks and create a solid structure for your workday. Creating a positive environment can also improve your relationships. Ultimately, when you can solve issues with productivity, you position yourself to succeed and grow your business.

About Dr. Mac Powell:

Dr. Mac Powell is an innovator and educator whose passion for leading change is exhibited consistently in his work. He has been in numerous leadership roles, including as the President of Bastyr University, WestMed University, and John F. Kennedy University. Dr. Mac Powell has written over 100 articles on the importance of higher-education and performance and has dedicated his life to improving the community around him.

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