Melinda Emerson

By Melinda Emerson, author, speaker and small business coach

As a small business owner, you have a lot going on all of the time. You are often distracted. Why wouldn’t you be? You are probably doing 10 or so jobs at once, any one of which can jump out and become an emergency at any time.  Despite how hard it is, you must be able to stay focused. Here are four things you can start doing today to be more focused in your small business.

1. Set daily work goals. I leave my desk clean each night except for the one piece of paper that lists out my 5 target tasks for the next day.  I start each day by 8am and I try to complete my 5 priorities before 11am. It’s called the 5 before 11 system.  I learned it from a great book called “7 Minute Solution” by Allyson Lewis. I’ve been using this system for years; it really works.

2. Keep conference calls to 30 minutes.  No one needs to talk to you for an hour. When people want to talk to you, give them a 30-minute window. Make sure you know why you are spending time with them and what the call is designed to accomplish.  Establish your own conference call line, so that you can call-in from anywhere that you are.  You may not want the person you are talking to have your personal cell phone number.

3. Check email only three times a day. It’s easy to become distracted by email, especially if all of your social media accounts dump into your email.  Turn off the alert feature so that you are not drawn to it. It’s ok for people to wait 2-3 hours for a response. If it’s urgent they should to pick up the phone.

4. Meticulously track your time It’s easy to lose track of the time you spend on a work projects and social media marketing. Often, independent contractors find themselves spending more time on a project than they put into the proposal. It is up to you to ensure that you’re getting paid for the work you’re putting in and to complete projects in a timely manner. Be sure to include project management time in your bids; interaction with clients eats up lots of time. Try using a low cost service like Harvest to track your time and generate accurate invoices.

Do you have any more ideas to help keep a small business owner focused?

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Melinda Emerson filed this content as a paid contributor to Xerox. The content is the author’s opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Xerox.

About the author

Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.