As an entrepreneur, you are part visionary genius, part manager, part salesperson, and sometimes, part errand runner. With all these hats to wear, not only are you challenged to keep yourself on track, but in many cases you also need to keep others in line, including your staff, clients and associates. In order to keep your variety of roles from overwhelming you – which renders you less effective and thus less profitable – you need to harness your focus.
Here are 7 tips to help you do just that, based on nearly eight years of teaching yoga and meditating, and more than a decade as a serial entrepreneur.
1) Turn the sound off.
Noise is distracting. That’s partly why many yoga rooms are silent. If you’re in focused work mode, put your phone on silent, and turn off all the little beeps from Facebook, email and their counterparts. This gives you the control to check your messages when it works for you, and allows your mind to get into a rhythm without interruption. Simply calming the bleeps and pings will do wonders to help you focus.
2) If you work from home, set boundaries around work time and other time.
When working, keep your other tasks, such as housework, family time, and social calls separate – as much as possible. By setting up containers of time for focused work, your clients get the attention they deserve, and so do the rest of your duties when you’re done. The timer on your phone is a great tool to set time-specific work goals, as the alarm will usually go off even when the phone is on silent. A simple kitchen timer will also do.
3) Establish rituals.
When I was running my yoga studio, I would start each work day by checking in with my to-do list, prioritizing what needed to get done, and establishing a loose plan for the day based on what meetings and obligations I had. No matter what was going on, this always got done. It grounded me and helped prevent overwhelm. Business and personal coaches often recommend rituals because they are good for your internal rhythm and help you establish good habits. Establishing rituals will also help you optimize your most creative times of the day. When you’re working, be aware of when you feel most inspired, and create a ritual around it to encourage your genius to flow.
4) Eat whole, low glycemic foods.
Some foods are beneficial to eat before yoga, and some will make your class a frazzled mess, resulting in poor balance, irregular breathing, and a thumping heart rate. The same principle applies to work. Sugar, excessive coffee, and processed foods, although convenient and quick in their energy boost, will result in crashes, depression, increased anxiety and overall stunted focus and creativity. Whole foods are a great alternative.
5) Use technology to stay more present.
Teaching and practicing yoga effectively requires presence of mind. This is partly why a yoga studio is usually clutter free and clear of distractions. Work focus also benefits from less clutter. I use ‘full screen’ and ‘mute’ mode on my MacBook to eliminate visual and auditory clutter. I also use the ‘read later’ option in my browser when I come across an article while researching. Smart mailboxes and alphabetized folders will help you organize your email and documents efficiently, and specific junk filters help prevent an overflowing inbox.
In yoga, ‘Savassana’, or ‘dead body pose’ is a posture that requires conscious relaxation. Athletes use this principle to optimize their performance in sports, and you can use it to increase your focus at work. Even the New York Times is buzzing with the benefits of relaxation. In order to be in top form with your business, restoration is key.
7) Come back to your breath.
I know, now I really sound like a yoga teacher. But trust me when I say that yoga and focus go hand in hand. Yoga means ‘union’, the marriage between your body and your mind, and your breath is the connection between the two. If you want to channel the entrepreneurial brilliance from your mind into action, you need to get in the zone, and your breath can help you do that. Next time you’re noticing your anxiety or distraction levels rising, stop. Regardless of your deadline, close your laptop or step outside.
Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. No need to visualize, chant or repeat a mantra. Just feel your breath going in through your nose. Exhale slowly, and bring your full awareness to the act. Repeat five times.
When you can bring your full awareness into your moment by moment reality, the focus that ensues will not only increase your productivity, but will set an example for your staff and clients.
Even your errand-running abilities will improve…I promise you that!
Leap of the Week: This week, take your focus to the next level by using these yoga and meditation inspired tips. They will help you improve communication, productivity and profits…and leave more time for YOU to enjoy!