How To Narrow Your Focus To Get More Done
Today Leslie is talking about productivity, revealing to you what tasks he has stopped doing in his business and what three core tasks he is now focusing most of his time on so he gets rapid results. If you’re not getting things done, reading this article will help you prioritize.
When it comes to growing an online business, it is easy to think that you should be able to do everything. With the whole world almost at your fingertips, there really isn’t anything that you can’t learn to do.
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The problem that then arises is that the online entrepreneur ends up with a lot of stuff on their plate. With so much information out there, it’s easy to end up suffering from information overload and being overwhelmed with the many tasks that need to be done in order to have a thriving business.
Every individual has a limited amount of time in their day. Since that is always the case, it should be expected that if you want to excel at any particular thing, or in any particular niche, you need to have a narrow focus. This is the same reason why Higher Education starts with an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree that includes a number of classes that aren’t necessarily related to your field of interest and can get up into the pHD where you are spending a ton of time focusing on one topic that you are specializing in.
When I did my Master’s degree in Neurobiology, I spent 4 years studying one specific Nerve Cell in 1 species of cricket (I know, I’m crazy).
In this article, I want to address the issue of narrowing your focus, and show how I’ve used techniques to help me narrow my focus and be more productive.
Allow me to get all scientific on you for a brief moment and give you a quick physics lesson. If you apply a certain amount of Force to a large area, it will result in a certain amount of pressure. However, if you decrease the size of the area significantly, there will be a significant increase in pressure, even if the amount of force remains the same.
Allow me to get more graphic. If I hit your leg with a reasonable amount of force, you might say “Ouch”. However, If I apply the same amount of force to a needle that is pointed directly to your leg, you will DEFINITELY scream from the pain. There will be a significantly greater impact because I focused on a significantly smaller area of your leg. I hope you can forgive me for using such a harsh example, but I really want to drive home that point.
This same principle applies to how we spend our energy. Everyone has a certain amount of energy available on a daily basis. You can take that energy and apply it to a ton of different things and have a moderate affect, or you can focus all of your energy on a limited number of important things and have such a great impact that the world will “scream”. Having a narrow focus allows you to cause as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time, and I do mean that in a good way.
If you are reading this post, it is more than likely that you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for online business. If that’s the case, I’m betting that you do a wide variety of things when it comes to growing your online business or accomplishing your goals (especially if you are crazy like I am).
The first thing I would recommend for you to do is to jot down a list of all the things you do when it comes to growing your business and approximately how much time you spend doing those things on a daily basis. Write down as many things as you can. This is a very important step because it allows you to get a more accurate picture of where your priorities actually are. We are often surprised when we sit down and take inventory of our time.
Once you have identified where your time is spent, the next step is to look carefully at that list and determine what the three things are that have the greatest impact on what you are trying to accomplish. These are your High-Value Tasks (HVTs) and are the things that you want to focus the majority of your time on.
When I sat down to take inventory of the things that I do, I realized that I was being very inefficient. My list of tasks were as follows:reading emailnetworking with others on twitter, facebook and instant messengerwriting blog postsmaking videoschecking my affiliate accountschecking my analytics accountstweaking the design on my websitesreading other blogscommenting on other blogsmaking information products
After looking at that list, it was extremely easy to realize what my top 3 were.
I’m in the business of providing others with useful information. Since that’s the case, I narrowed down my HVTs to making information products, writing blog posts and making videos. These are the high-value tasks in my business and the more time I spend on these tasks, the faster my business grows. When I do those things, I get great feedback from my subscribers on how much those things have helped them. If I don’t do these things, I have nothing to sell, and thus no way of making money (which just sucks). I then decided that I needed to focus on these things.
Once you have decided what those 3 HVTs are, the next step becomes obvious. You’ve got to focus on those tasks as if your entire business depended on it. Why? BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE BUSINESS DEPENDS ON IT! It takes a lot of work to grow a successful business, and if you are going to put in the work, it might as well be as focused as possible so that you can be as effective as possible.
Decide how much time you want to devote to your business on a daily basis. Once you have made a decision, 80% of that time should be allotted to your three high-value tasks. If you decide that you want to work two hours per day on your business, you automatically know that approximately 1 hour and 36 minutes should be spent on your high-value tasks. Please understand that the 80% is not a fixed value, but is intended to show that it should be a majority and it does go along with the 80/20 rule.
When I identified my HVTs, I decided to get to work. In the last year, I had developed exactly ZERO information products, although that was obviously among the tasks that contribute the highest value and is probably the most important of my three. After giving myself a kick in the butt, I decided to take action.
The next two weeks were spent making one of my best information products to date – a 7 Day training series teaching people how to get started building an online business. In those 2 weeks, I outlined the product, started recording the videos and setting up the website for that product. I didn’t spend any more time than I had been spending in previous weeks on my business. However, I was more productive with the highest value task on my list than I had been for the entire year.
After those two weeks, I launched the product, provided a significant amount of value for my readers, and got some great feedback. Was it worth it? HECK YEAH. I now have an asset that can help grow my business and it didn’t take much extra effort on my part. All it took was for me to narrow my focus to increase my effectiveness.
I’ve also decided (obviously) to spend more time writing. This is why you are reading this right now. When I wake up in the morning, after I take care of some preliminaries, I spend my time writing because this is the time that works best for me, and I see that I write my best content early in the morning. The result is more content and more value.
Ok, the truth is, although some of the tasks aren’t your HVTs, some of them are still crucial to the growth of your business. These tasks need to be done. Here are some options on how to deal with these tasks.Spend the other 20% of your time on some these tasks. You might have noticed that these less important tasks take up a majority of your time. If that’s the case, think of ways to minimize the amount of time spent on these tasks. For example, use batch processing and deal with a large majority of the same type of tasks in a short, focused period of time, instead of doing little bits all throughout the day.Outsource. There are many people willing to help you out at an affordable cost. Why pay someone to do something when you can do it yourself? Because you need to focus on the tasks that will help you reach your goal the fastest. Outsourcing helps you get much more done and the benefits outweigh the cost significantly, IF you do it the right way.
All other tasks should be eliminated. It’s very possible that some of the things you are doing don’t bring you closer to your goals, and are just a waste of time. Identify these things and ELIMINATE them.
I’ll be the first to testify that when I looked at my list, I realized that I was spending most of my time being unproductive. I checked email maybe 20 times a day (no exaggeration), wasted a ton of time on Facebook, spent a considerable amount of time tweaking the design of my site and even looking for the next design that was going to “propel my website to the next level”.
Then I took a hard look at the people I was following who are where I want to be and realized that they weren’t focusing on what I was focusing on. So this is what I decided to do:Check email twice daily (AND NO MORE). This has been the most difficult habit to break away from for some reason. I love being constantly connected, but I’ve realized that in being constantly connected, I was wasting a ton of time. This change was the most necessary for me. I also decided to remove my email addresses from my phone, because I’m always tempted to pull out my phone and go back on my decision.Turn off my Instant Messenger. Too often, I’d be writing a blog post or doing something important, and would be interrupted by a popup window saying “You there?”. Then I’d start chatting with that person, and when I realized what happened, a half hour would be gone (or even more). So I turn my Instant messenger off more often than I’ve ever done in the past.Work disconnected. I love browsing the web. It’s what I do. However, checking on something “really quick”, easily ends up being hours wasted looking at pictures on facebook, reading “interesting articles” online and finding out that Google is taking world domination to the next level (btw, did you see that they are trying to develop a system where your car can do the driving for you? Those guys ROCK!). I now shut off my wireless connection whenever I’m working.Develop efficient outsourcing material. One of the main problems I see with outsourcing is that it’s often done inefficiently. I’ve hired outsourcers in the past and have not had enough tasks for them to do, or haven’t had the right kind of training to provide them with. I’m working on developing significant training materials to help me outsource effectively. Once this is done, I will be outsourcing on a more regular basis.I removed some junk in my life. When I open up my browser, I have my Bookmark bar set with a bunch of junk sites that I check often, just for fun. I deleted a bunch of those and no longer visit those sites.
I’d like to sit here and tell you that I’ve solved all of my problems, there is no more junk in my business, and I’m the essence of productivity. HA! That’s not true at all. However, I’ve made some significant strides. To be honest, to a certain extent, writing this article and sharing it with so many of you, is something that I’m using to help me reach my productivity goals.
By putting this out there, I have a bunch of people now looking at me to see if I really practice what I preach. Not only that, but I will be reporting back to you every so often to keep you updated about how things are going with my productivity goals.
So time for you to do the same. Here are my questions for you:What are your 3 most high-value tasks in your business?What things do you find yourself wasting time on?What steps are you taking (or going to take) towards narrowing your focus and having the greatest impact?
Leslie, The Freebie Guy is a blogger who teaches people how to grow their online business at www.TheFreebieGuy.net. He has recently started a 7 Day Bootcamp to take people from Beginner to having a fully functional Online Business in 7 days.