It is the absolute golden rule to keep your focus as an entrepreneur. But anyone who runs a start-up or scale-up knows that as a jack-of-all-trades he or she is confronted with a lot of distractions. How do you still keep your focus? We give you 5 ready-made tips!
#1. Spend enough time setting up a structured way of working
If you take a structured approach to your work, you’re less likely to lose yourself in the details. But beware: a structured method for one entrepreneur will not necessarily work for another. It is therefore important to find your own structure. For example, have you lost track of your workload due to the mountains of work? Spend enough time organizing and clearing those mountains.
- Schedule a time once a week where you do some short-term planning, say every Monday morning for the week ahead.
- At such a moment, you should also review your long-term planning. Are you still on schedule?
- If you notice that you are off track, try to evaluate where you are going wrong. That way, you can avoid those mistakes in the future to be more productive.
- When you start planning, try to work with a color system or other classification method. Are you sorting by priorities? Or rather on themes?
- Trello is one of the project management tools we prefer. You may already know him, and we have to admit, he’s pretty basic. But sometimes it just doesn’t hurt to work with simple software. That way you lose less time having to set everything up and possibly explain it to team members. Because a Trello board like that can be shared, of course. Writing out your paper to-do list on post-its that you then hand out is a lot less productive. Trust us, we tried.
- Do you feel your attention wandering after less than half an hour? Then try the Pomodorete technique, in which you work in blocks of 25 minutes each time. Handy: there is even a desktop application for this that integrates seamlessly with your Trello board!
#2. Learn to say ‘no’, even to targets
Granted, it’s not easy. After all, as an entrepreneur you don’t want to miss a single opportunity to get the most out of your business. But as Apple guru Steve Jobs put it, “Focusing isn’t about saying yes, focusing is about saying no.”
Tough goals are often achieved thanks to the number of times you gave someone a njet. So how do you determine when to nod yes or no? Quite simply, list your startup’s priorities. Keep that grand vision in mind, but set micro goals to work toward. It is important to limit the number of goals to a maximum of 5. Otherwise you’ll have too many work points to deal with and you’ll still lose focus.
Let’s illustrate this with an example. Do you want at least 10 loyal, satisfied and paying users on your SaaS platform within six months? Then review today why your current users are not converting their free trial to a paid account.
And don’t be afraid.
Killing your darlings
No one likes to do that, but just because you don’t have time for those fun plans now, doesn’t mean there won’t be room for them later. Don’t throw them in the garbage yet, but store them well. This may make it easier for you to make the right choice, and may later serve as inspiration to explore new paths.
#3. Trust the team
Dare to delegate tasks and give each team or employee their own project, aka their own focus. This way you can focus on what you excel in and what is a priority for you. Learn to trust your teammates and a lot of work will be done. After all, nobody likes to micromanage.
Add to that an agile team project management method like
add. You look at what needs to be done, name the stumbling blocks together, divide the period into several sprints and then divide the work. Dare to delegate, and you’re golden.
#4. Death to the meeting
Nothing takes up as much time as having endless meetings about anything and everything. As you prepare the agenda, try to put a timing on the topics. And most importantly, stick to that timing effectively by appointing a timekeeper. Also, don’t be afraid to cut corners if disagreement persists on one particular point. Does it turn out afterwards that you really made the wrong decision? There’s always a way around it. This is also the theory behind the agile principle that many start-ups apply: keep improving during the process, instead of postponing important decisions out of uncertainty.
Tip: stand-up meetings. When you stand up straight you get to your point faster, you are more focused and it is healthy too. Do it!
#5. Don’t get carried away
Our society collectively suffers from Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Result: as entrepreneurs we don’t want to miss a single event. Certainly not if that colleague or that great sector colleague is present. However, try not to get caught up in hypes and events that are not relevant to your business. Again: look at your priorities. Are you hoping to raise an investment within the next few months? Then it is indeed worthwhile to attend that event about raising & finding capital. Detecting the right opportunities is what it’s all about.