The solution is two-pronged. First, you must develop the self-discipline to stop and say, “Hey, it doesn’t have to be this way.” Second, you must create and utilize a five-step system to manage your workflow in a preventive manner.
To build your mental resistance to these disturbances, you must take responsibility for determining what requires your unique thought and attention and what doesn’t - and then let go of control when appropriate. Distraction is a dangerously deceptive saboteur of your goals so you must learn to ignore the small stuff in order to work on the big stuff.
Managing your workflow can be done via this five-step system. If you don’t already have one, hire a rockstar assistant and train them to use this system with you.
1. Eliminate – The inability to say no will leave you living a life of constant overwhelm. A lot of self-discipline starts with simply knowing what things you’ll have to decline. What do you need to reject? What can you get rid of in your schedule? What do you need to stop doing?
2. Automate – There is a series of repetitive tasks in any business – streamline them. Learn to use tools like Hootesuite to consolidate your social media activity, and Neat Receipts to create expense reports, do your taxes, and deduct from your checkbook register. Create automatic responses and rules for categories of requests that your assistant can use on your behalf.
3. Delegate – It takes a village. Identify every task that you can delegate – booking travel, data entry, graphic design, website design, copywriting, house cleaning, lawn maintenance, etc… If you’re not paying someone else to do this at his or her hourly rate of pay then you’re charging yourself at your rate (if you make $100,000 a year, that’s $52/hour).
4. Consolidate – In any given week, there are groups of emails, tasks, and activities that can afford to have someone other than you making decisions on. As my friend Steve Savage says, “drive decision-making downward,” and then have your assistant consolidate everything that has been completed on your behalf – expenses, meetings arranged, travel bookings, responses and messages – into one master summary.
5. Let it Wait – If it can’t be eliminated, automated, delegated, or consolidated, then your assistant should let it wait. I carve out a niche in my week dedicated to dealing with everything else that piles up. I can comfortably “let it wait,” knowing that I have a catch-all for attending to it later.
I personally use this system and it has revolutionized the way I work. Taking back your focus is the single best thing you can do to overcome Priority Dilution and improve your business. Remember that until you accomplish the day’s most important objectives, everything else is a distraction.
Rory Vaden is co-founder of Southwestern Consulting, Self-Discipline Strategist, and author of the New York Times bestseller "Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success." For more information, visit www.TakeTheStairsBook.com
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