Key Ways to Avoid Distraction as a Founder & Focus on Building Your Business in the Face of Crisis
As the founder of a business, you have to possess many qualities that drive success in order to thrive, including strong leadership, financial savvy, creativity and innovation, perseverance…and resilience. Maintaining your focus is critical, but in a world full of distractions, it isn’t easy. And when you throw in a crisis — like a global pandemic — it gets even harder to keep your eyes on the prize.
Bouncing back in the wake of a crisis may feel like an impossible challenge, especially when reports indicate it could be five years before some sectors return to pre-COVID performance. But with determination, clearly defined goals and a vision for the future, you can cut through the clutter and navigate your business through crisis toward a brighter tomorrow.
Here are the tips you need to shut down distractions and stay focused on what matters:
6 Ways to Curb Distraction and Build a Stronger Business Post-COVID
#1: Perfect the Art of Being Present
Distractions are goal-killers, and they find ways of creeping into your work time without you even noticing. Cell phones, social media and constant notifications interrupt your workflow and steal your attention from the tasks you need to accomplish. Add in a crisis like COVID-19 and the distractions compound. If you found yourself suddenly working from home, you likely had to deal with a tidal wave of new distractions, like kids, pets, spouses, Netflix and more.
You can’t get rid of every single external distraction, so manage the ones you can. Shut off email notifications and commit to only checking at scheduled times each day. Put your phone on silent, or better yet, stick it in a drawer. If you need a break, set a timer. Most importantly, when you’re working, give that work your full attention. Practice mindfulness, and work on building your time management skills. It will pay off — in crisis times and beyond.
#2: Ditch the Deadweight
Think about what you’re spending that you could be saving, and remember, that includes both money and time. Unnecessary expenses can drain your company financially in the midst of a crisis, and unnecessary time-wasters can drain your energy and drive. Go over your business’s financials and operations, and look for areas to trim. That may include renegotiating contracts with vendors, eliminating tools and software programs that aren’t giving you ROI and finding ways to streamline processes to maximize efficiency. If it isn’t growing your bottom line or putting hours back in your day, it’s time to cut it loose.
If spending your time and money like you did before a crisis is keeping you up at night, it’s a distraction. Eliminate it (and get the rest you need) by working to recession-proof your business. Take a hard look at everything from marketing and advertising to your business debt, and start putting plans in place to go lean for as long as you need.
#3: Put Self-Care First
Taking care of your own physical and mental well-being isn’t a distraction, but failing to do so can cause an avalanche of other distractions — doctor’s appointments, sleeplessness, poor nutrition and struggling relationships, just to name a few. These are all focus-busters, but more significantly, they are potentially dangerous. And during a crisis, the threat looms large. A study shows that 8 in 10 business executives experienced mental health struggles during the pandemic, but 40 percent of those put off reaching out for help.
Simply put, you cannot ignore your physical or mental health during a crisis. It’s difficult for business owners and founders to put themselves first, even in ideal circumstances. But during instability, it is even more critical. Prioritizing self-care will allow you the mental capacity to meet your own needs and then get back to business.
#4: Revisit Your Values
Hopefully, in the early days of founding your business, you established clear values to guide your decisions and define exactly what your company stands for. Core values are a huge part of your company culture, and no matter the size of your business, they are key to building a firm foundation.
Times of crisis can steal your attention from following your guiding principles, especially when your business’s survival hangs in the balance. But if your values are strong, you will always be able to lean on them to help you pave the path forward.
#5: Be Prepared to Pivot
In a crisis, the businesses that survive are the ones that find ways to adapt. This was demonstrated over and over again in the midst of COVID when small businesses across the country found themselves shifting their operations online overnight. For some, this meant implementing ecommerce for the first time, and for others, it meant offering curbside pickup, local delivery and shipping options they’d never considered before.
Pivoting your business creates new opportunities for innovation, but it also gives you a clear focus in a stressful time. Putting your energy into adapting to chaos is exhausting, but it pays off in the end.
#6: Plan Ahead for the Next Crisis
You can’t anticipate a crisis, but you can be ready for it. While the pandemic days are hopefully drawing to a close, it likely won’t be the only hardship you endure as a founder. Take the time now to revisit your business plan and create a contingency for crisis scenarios. The time you spend now will save time later by reducing distractions and keeping you focused on navigating through highly volatile situations.
Distractions are everywhere, but never more so than in the midst of a crisis. By learning to plan ahead, being adaptable and setting the right priorities, you’ll be able to stay focused on what matters — helping your business thrive. What tips have you followed to eliminate distractions while working from home during the pandemic? We want to hear your story! Share it with us, and you might be our featured #INCspiration.