Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Distracted? Just Hit Clear!

I recently received the following from one of my newsletter subscribers who struggles, like most of us do, trying to balance all the different pieces of running a business:

“On any given day I have roughly 50 tasks in the queue to be completed. Some are planned due to long term projects. Others pop up due to events that occur on projects that are in execution. Managing the complexity becomes an overwhelming task.”

This is so typical for business owners. We are constantly hit from all sides as we try to juggle multiple projects, deal with emergencies, and cope with constant distractions (especially the self-created ones—I stand guilty as charged on this one!) We all seem to end up feeling like we have Business Owner’s Attention Deficit Disorder (B.O.A.D.D.)

Here’s a tactic I use all the time to help me deal with the distractions of every day business life. This is a tip from Dr. Maxwell Maltz discussed in a book called Psycho-Cybernetics. I discovered the tip when I read Dan Kennedy’s excellent book No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs. (Note on Dan Kennedy—sometimes (often) Dan comes across as a rather cranky man who needs more fiber in his diet, but the guy really knows his stuff!).

Okay, so getting back to the helpful tactic (see how easy it is to get me off track?). The technique is called “clearing the calculator”. Dr. Maltz says people try to focus on too many problems at once and they lose their effectiveness. He compares this to using a calculator. In order to solve a new problem you must first press the clear button to get rid of the old problem. He recommends a mental exercise of “clearing the calculator” so you can clear away the old problem to focus on the new.

Since I’m not particularly good at mental exercises of this sort, I physically hit the clear button on my desk calculator to help me to focus (or re-focus or re-re-focus). Sometimes I have to hit that puppy a number of times before I settle back into working on a project after being distracted by other things. I do find it helpful (of course, I may need a new calculator if I keep banging on the bloomin’ thing like I have been lately).

Give this technique a try when you find yourself running about trying to fight all those fires that keep springing up.

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
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