A new year, a new start and a new resolution.
This year I resolve to focus on one thing at a time.
Running a small business, like so many of you, means I am the person responsible to for almost every element of my business and almost all of the marketing of my client’s businesses too. It struck me at the end last year that I have a lot going on. All the time.
And that’s been fine. Multi-tasking is something I’ve always been rather good at but there are times when this can become counter productive, overwhelming and not really very healthy.
The Calm of Christmas (honest!)
I sort of stumbled across a new system for working at the end of last year. Due to the nature of some of my clients businesses, November & December is a key selling time and therefore I launch massive campaigns during this period. It’s normally nuts.
The campaigns were very complex and involved press releases, social media, facebook ads, google adwords, live events and newsletters. I had a lot going on and it was imperative that the timing and content was spot on. I realised that I was going to have to place my entire focus on their Christmas campaigns or risk everything falling apart, including me.
At the start of this crazy, busy period, out of necessity I began to shut down all outside distractions and simply focused on the campaigns. That meant stepping back from social media, in particular several facebook groups that I am an active member of. I stayed in the groups but shut off all notifications and only dipped back into them when I had time or wanted a change of focus or a break. I didn’t take on any client meetings or skype calls during this time that were not related to the campaigns.
I also had to accept that I might not actually be able to get everything done, and therefore made a very clear list of priorities; 1. must be done, 2. should be done, 3. nice to be done.
It was such a useful process (and pretty successful in terms of their sales too). I was very productive, I got everything done that I needed to. I didn’t feel stressed, but I was buzzing. I had a lot to get through and I did work very long hours, but I nailed it. And most importantly I really, really enjoyed this period of intense work that in previous years has nearly finished me off.
It might be no coincidence that late in the summer I had read a book that was recommended to me called The One Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Garry Keller. The concept is all about narrowing your focus and ultimately concentrating on doing ONE thing at a time. And doing it well. Then developing systems that support making this a daily habit.
Isn’t this a profound idea? To stop trying to do everything at once, and instead focus on doing one thing at a time. But it isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. How often do we watch a movie but also scroll through facebook on our phones? I often listen to podcasts whilst cooking dinner or when out running. I think it’s certainly a sign of our time. We expect so much of ourselves and each other. It’s like we are trying to live life faster in the same amount of time. We need to slow down. I need to slow down.
Breaking Making the Habit
So after a really nice break over Christmas and New Year, which involved lots of snow, mountains, fresh air and early nights, I reflected on how good running those Christmas campaigns felt. And that’s when I decided that ‘focus’ would become my watchword for 2018 and I’m working on making this a habit, every day.