5 Common Distractions for Online Entrepreneurs

Focus is crucial when creating an online business. Here are five common distractions for entrepreneurs and tips for how to overcome these. Make sure you click through to the post to download the free cheatsheet.

Even though I love the work I do in my online business, I am by nature a bit of a procrastinator. Heck, I spent nearly an hour this morning setting up my laptop and work stuff outside because it’s such a beautiful, sunny day! When it comes to buzzing around before getting stuck into the actual work stuff, I’m quite the expert.

It’s because of this natural inclination that I’ve had to become really aware of what my biggest distracters are, as well as to create strategies to stop these from taking over my day. Here are five such distractions, as well as some strategies for how to overcome them.

1.    Letting email control your time

Email is a great way to stay informed and connected with others, which is especially important if we spend our days working in isolation, yet it can also be a huge distraction. Email creates a constant drip-feed of new content and potential interaction to pull our attention from our work, and ultimately be carried away from our own priorities to focus our attention on the demands of others. It’s kind of like having a group of people standing in front of your desk, shouting and vying for your attention.

Checking email has an almost addictive quality to it and I think some of this comes down to the level of stimulation we are guaranteed to find whenever we check our inbox. Bored? That’s cool – just 'quickly' check your emails and you’ll sure to have plenty to keep you amused or busy! And don’t even get me started on the time it takes to clean up the email inbox... that's almost a full-time job in itself!

Strategy for overcoming this:

Create structure around when you check your email, including:

  • Setting aside specific times of the day to check your email.  You may even find it useful schedule these in your diary.
  • Switching off automatic updates and notifications
  • Checking your email in conjunction with another task, such as just before you break for lunch or when you have time allocated to social media engagement

2.    Researching and consuming others’ content before creating your own

Keeping with the same theme as the above point, consuming the content of others under the guise of ‘working on your business’ can be a huge distraction. It’s natural to want to learn about how to improve and refine your business, and there sure are a lot of resources to help you achieve this. Too many in fact. But spending a lot of time reading through others' content as a way to build your business is like reading interior design magazines and expecting your kitchen to renovate itself.

One of the pitfalls of consuming so much content is that it’s all too easy to feel like you’re being productive by researching and investigating, and ultimately pursuing the improvement of your business. I speak from experience here! But ultimately you are still not producing anything and your business can stagnate as you have very little to offer your customers.

As a business owner, I do think it’s important to be continually learning and expanding your expertise and general understanding, but not at the expense of creating your own content. Creation of things of value is one of the factors that defines whether your blog is your business, or your hobby.

Strategy for overcoming this:

The strategy here is two-fold:

  • create boundaries around when and how you consume the content of others; and
  • have a framework for when you’re in creation mode. What works well for me scheduling blocks of time when I solely work on creating new content.

3.    Being distracted by other humans (and pets!)

This next distraction is similar to the two we’ve already looked at and concerns times when your focus is being pulled away from your work by the priorities of other people, and on their timeline.

Humans can be great. They can also pretty distracting. Whether it's your family (including the furry, four-legged variety), friends, colleagues or strangers on the internet, there will always be someone around who would like a piece of your time. They have their own needs and wants, and all too often those will not match with those you set for yourself. It may be in person, over the phone or via electronic means, but the interactions and requests of others can be a huge disruption in your carefully planned day.

My dog, Billy, can be a big distraction for me. I love him to bits and mostly he’s pretty good while I’m working but sometimes he will just sit next to my desk, looking up at me and hoping I’ll give him a snack or throw a ball. His staring sessions can last for an impressively long time. I don't know about you, but I find it very annoying and highly unsettling to be stared at and without fail I'll lose my concentration and need to get up to walk around, hoping to get him off my case. Super distracting and disrupting to productivity!

Strategy for overcoming this:

Again, this strategy is two-fold:

  • Establish boundaries around how you would like to interact with others during your day and where possible be clear with the people in your life about your availability.
  • Expect to be distracted! Despite our best intentions, others will cross our carefully planned boundaries so the key here is to manage your expectations and know that distractions will occur. The key is to find a way to get back into a productive headspace more quickly after interruptions.

4.    Doing only the fun or easy stuff

Running your own business is usually a mix of tasks you enjoy and tasks you know you have to do. As online business owners there are usually elements we're passionate about, while other elements can feel like one big chore.

I know that I have a tendency to spend more time on the tasks I enjoy or those which are easy, and relegate the harder, more tiresome stuff to be done ‘in the future.’ Well, all too often ‘the future’ never really arrives, or it arrives when a big fat deadline looms and then I have to work like crazy to get it all done. Not only is this the opposite of fun, but it’s not a smart way to run a business.

Easy tasks can trick you into thinking you're hard at work and kicking goals when it comes to moving your business forward as you are still working, but what you will likely end up with is an imbalanced business where you excel in some areas, and neglect others.

Strategy for overcoming this:

Knowledge is power, so learn to understand what you enjoy the most in your business, and what you find most challenging, boring or just plain hard to do. It’s ok to acknowledge that sometimes all you will feel like is the fun stuff, and that’s fine. I’m a big fan of anything that moves your business ahead. But it’s crucial to ensure that you’re also working on the tasks you naturally avoid. I find that batching these tiresome tasks together allows me to knock them over in one go, freeing me up to get back to what I enjoy most.

5.    Being physically uncomfortable

Depending on your business, you may spend a lot of time sitting down or staying still in one place. Activities such as staring at a computer screen for hours, or doing close work with your head bent down over your work can quickly take a physical toll on your body. Aches and pains develop, and it becomes very hard to concentrate. Yet, the work needs to get done so we persist through the pain, and keep exacerbating the problem and pretty soon we’ve got ourselves into a vicious cycle.

When we’re in pain or discomfort, it can be very hard to concentrate and our ability to enjoy work begins to suffer. Physical pain is ever present and serves as a constant distraction, making it increasingly more difficult to shift our mind from our bodies.

Strategies for overcoming this:

There are a few things you can do to overcome this distraction:

  • Pay attention to your body and notice if you’re getting too tired or uncomfortable. If so, get up and move around.
  • Ensure that your workspace is comfortable and ergonomic. Buying yourself a better chair could make all the difference.
  • See a doctor or someone who specialises in the area of pain you’re experiencing.

I hope you've found this list helpful, and are able to adopt some of these strategies to help you feel less distracted in your work.

How about you? What do you find most distraction? Anything on this list strike a cord? I'd love to hear more in the comments below.

Experiments in Blogging

Blogging can be hard! This is my launching point for exploring other ways of blogging that don't feel like a chore.

I have a bit of a confession to make: I'm not all that fond of blogging. There. I've said it! This is my secret shame.

Ok, so 'secret shame' is a bit dramatic, but as someone who has a blog and a business I'm incredibly passionate about, it is a huge bummer to find myself dragging my feet every time I start writing a new post. What could take me a few hours to write instead takes me a few days of dipping in and out (and finding every feasible distraction under the sun) before I can finally hit 'publish' on an article. This simply will not do. So I keep trying to find ways to make myself knuckle down, including whole days where I've sequestered myself away from home to force myself to focus in and git 'er done. Still no love.

In terms of the posts I have published, I know I'm happy with the final product, and would only share something I'm proud of and which people might find helpful, but the process as it currently stands makes me less likely to do the actually blogging in the first place. Not a great place from which to be a blogger...

Yet, I'm someone who has always loved writing, so how can this be? I dream of writing novels and have tinkered away on creative projects my whole life. So why is it that I struggle to get my bloggin' on? I have plenty of post and content ideas that light my fire and I want to share these with others, but just can't seem to find my mojo when it comes to that actual writing bit.

Pardon my French, but it feels a whole lot like pushing shit uphill.

However, not one to be easily deterred when I really set my heart on something, I've decided instead to look at the 'how' of what I'm doing rather than giving up on this whole blogging thing. In life, and in business, I'm all about identifying what's working, what isn't working and tweaking things to create better results.

As a kid, I loved Pinky and The Brain, a cartoon about two genetically enhanced lab mice who were bent on world domination. Each episode they would execute a new plan to try to take over the world but always fail, usually because of Pinky's ineptitude. Anyway, the point of my story is that even though I loved the show (and yeah, I know it's just a cartoon) I would get annoyed that instead of refining the original megalomaniacal plot that nearly worked, The Brain would just come up with an entirely new scheme each episode. "Brain," I'd think to myself, "just change the damned plan, and the world will be yours!" And, I suppose, the show would be over after two episodes.

A more sophisticated and succinct way to make this same point goes to Mr. Thomas Edison:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
- Thomas A. Edison

Anyway, you can probably see my point. Rather than throwing out an idea because it doesn't work, I'm a big believer in examining what didn't work and develop strategies to counterbalance and improve these factors. Simplistically put, this process looks a bit like this:

Try -> Fail -> Refine -> Try -> Succeed -> World Domination

In looking at my current process I wanted to identify what I do enjoy, and there are some posts I've really enjoyed writing in the past so I know that feeling is possible, so it seems that the next step is to try and find more ways to post than those I've been trying up until now.

I have a feeling the main components for me to explore will be content (i.e. what the post is about) and method (the type or style of post) and I already have a heap of ideas for mixing things up that I can't wait to share with you. I'm also hoping you'll let me know which you like so I can work on tweaking and shifting what I offer in a way that offers the most value.

Watch this space...

P.S. You want to know something interesting? This post practically wrote itself and was enjoyable to do. Mental note: do more confessionals!

Like to stay in touch while I conduct my experiments in blogging? Sign up below:

Why Taking Care of Yourself Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur takes on so many roles in order to run a successful business, especially as an online creative. Blogger. Designer. Accountant. Marketer. CEO. This can be one of the greatest joys of running your own business, but also the biggest challenge. So how do you manage all this and not lose your mind? I’ve put together a resource to help with just this problem. Click through to read these helpful tips and access your free self-care resource and meditations.

Working to create a business and life you love can be the most amazing experience. You have the opportunity every day to create something meaningful and help others in the process. Indeed, when you hit your stride, running your own creative enterprise can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. When in the zone, you may have so much on the go but yet you still feel excited and challenged and passionate about what you do, and carried along on a contact high of productivity that it feels like you could go for hours without needing to come up for air.

But this is not always the way unfortunately. Being an entrepreneur can also be exhausting, frustrating and heartbreaking. You give so much of yourself to your work that coming up against challenges and continually not seeing results can leave you depleted and disenchanted. Add to this the countless hours you need to commit to getting everything done, as well as everything else in your daily life still demanding your attention, and pretty soon your health and overall wellbeing can take a beating. Feeling this way can fast become a slippery slope into overwhelm and before you know it your groove gets jolted and you have so much to do and not enough energy or time to do it. Your headspace clouds over and you feel buried by all the junk that life and work throws at you.

I totally get it. We all feel this way at times (sometimes all the time!) and in creating and working on my business I have had times when I’ve felt so overwhelmed and fundamentally challenged that I’ve reached the point of wondering if I should just pack it all in and go back to the 9-to-5 grind. Thankfully my loathing of my former ‘career’ and deep desire for freedom has helped me stay the course, but as I kept coming up against this cycle I knew I needed a way to stop getting to breaking point. I realised that digging myself out of a rut can take a lot of energy and patience, and while it’s totally possible, wouldn’t it be better to just avoid going there in the first place?

Are you feeling this too?

To help you out (because that’s what I’m here for!) I wanted to share some of the ways I know to help get back on track, and to stop myself from spiralling too far into a depression. Along with these tips, I have just created and launched a free (yep, you heard it right, free!) online email series to help folks, especially busy entrepreneurs, to take control of their self-care and get some quick strategies to get happier and able to get back to creating your world-changing empire more quickly. More about that at the end… (or you could just sign up now with this form below if you're keen:)

Okeydokes, here we go. Read on for some of my top strategies for improving your self-care today:

BOOST YOUR OVERALL WELLBEING

If you ask Google to ‘define wellbeing’ (and I did) the first result you’ll see is the definition that wellbeing is ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.’ Sounds like something we all strive for, and certainly worth pursuing, yet so many of us relegate our health and happiness to the bottom of our to-do list and treat caring for ourselves as either an afterthought or something that gets done if we ever get time. “Sweet heavens above, please let me find the time!” We long to take care of ourselves, but as a culture we don’t, or can’t, seem to prioritise it. We idealise an overloaded schedule and constantly strive to prove we can do, be and have more. No wonder we all get so burnt out! 

This behaviour is kind crazy and definitely counterproductive to living a good life. By being in the best state of comfort, health and happiness we are able to more present and engaged in our lives, and filling our time with a frenzied pace doesn't allow us to create the space we need to care for ourselves. When we truly take care of ourselves so much of the drama and overwhelm melts away, we're able to see improvements across all the areas of our lives. We have better relationships because we’re less testy and more present. Our work will naturally improve as our concentration levels are better and our access to creativity and innovation gets clearer. So, to borrow an old-fashioned expression, prioritising everything and everyone else in our lives before our own wellbeing is like putting the cart before the horse. In other words, the wrong way around!

Looking for a way to kick-start your journey back to wellbeing, but not sure where to start? Or maybe you’re doing ok at taking care of yourself but sometimes it gets away from you. Either way I’ve got you covered! I’ve created a meditation to help you stop the busy busyness of your work, your day, your thoughts, and get a wellbeing check in. The best part? It’s under 10 minutes long so is a great way to get started and not be too big a time drainer.

Get it here as part of the free five-day self-care series:

IDENTIFY YOUR DERAILERS

Similar to the point above, looking at your life and being able to identify what is not working for you and where you might have your priorities out of alignment can be the start of some beautiful changes.

One element of this is being able to recognise what keeps tripping you up as you work towards creating and living a great life. I call these ‘derailers’ as they knock you off track again and again. You’re cruising along, then wham, these elements crop up and before you know it you’re either heading in the wrong direction or have stopped moving forward completely.

Being able to identify these derailers will allow you to get back on track more quickly or, even better, stop from being derailed in the first place.

Derailers can be unconscious behaviours like popping into Facebook to check one thing and suddenly realising you’ve been on there for two hours, or hurdles and challenges you weren’t expecting (super common when you’re in business for yourself!). You may find that others are thwarting your efforts to get more done either through general distraction or by expressing their very present needs (such as a hungry child or a client who contacts you in a panic with an urgent project change or request).

When we become derailed from our original focus it can feel upsetting and frustrating, and add to this that all too often we can also feel disappointed in ourselves for not sticking to our original intention. We might become angry or short-tempered and the last thing we feel during these times is calm and in control.

Being able to identify these derailers allows us to get ahead of them and create strategies to lessen or even negate these obstacles. It may be as simple as adding 25% time allowance for every project you plan or setting a timer before you enter the murky time-sucking vortex of social media. Heck, even allow yourself time to check social media where you can just follow your nose and spend an hour there. This is not about denying yourself distractions, but rather it is a way of stopping distractions, disappointments and life from derailing your objectives. You're ultimately setting yourself up for a win, rather than allowing yourself to keep being knocked off track.

Want more tips on overcoming derailers? Check out my post on 5 Common Derailers for Newbie Bloggers

MEDITATION

I know that I find meditation super beneficial (when I remember to do it!). It helps still my busy, busy brain and allows me to find clarity when trying to solve a problem. I’m not alone here. There’s so much research to demonstrate the benefits meditation can have in our lives, health, happiness and so much more. I’m not going to bombard you with statistics and research, but here are few resources worth checking out if you have time:

I have a super active imagination and while this is often one of my greatest assets, it can also make more traditional, silent meditation a big challenge and kind of a drag. My thoughts just keep coming at me and I get annoyed that I just can’t get it together, and the thoughts keep swirling around and around, and thus the cycle continues. This feeling of frustration makes it hard to implement and stick with a regular meditation practice because there's no real benefit. This is where guided meditations come in. I find it so much easier to still my mind when I can be taken on a journey, and just allow myself to let go of my thoughts without having to do all the heavy lifting. I still get so much benefit from the experience but so much of the pressure has been taken off and I find this helps me maintain the desire to keep up the practice.

You know I've got your back, my friend, and I’m here to help you out. Like I mentioned above, I have recently created a couple of guided meditations as part of my free self-care series as I see these as really effective tools in improving wellbeing, and I want to help folks get the benefits of meditation without the hard work.

I’m really proud of how these turned out and feel like they really are the stars of the program. You should totally sign up for this series just to get your hands on them!

EMBRACE ACCEPTANCE

Acceptance is one of these principles we all understand, can see the value in and want to embrace, yet it is also one tricky little fiend. I would love to achieve acceptance in all things and move through the world like a zen monk, being untouched emotionally by others and their shortcomings, and generally being a loving creature. But alas, this is not simple. In fact, I think acceptance is one of the trickiest emotions to embrace.

Acceptance means that we allow something to be, without trying to change it or exert our will, or force something to be other than it is. This sounds simple enough, but when something or someone acts in a manner which is so contrary to what you believe it should be then acceptance can feel impossible.

However, acceptance isn’t about blithely embracing things without question. Rather, acceptance is taking away the anger and emotional attachment to an issue, and therefore freeing you up to focus your attention and energy in a more positive way.

If you’d like to explore how to better embrace acceptance in your life and business, I have a handy meditation to help you in creating more acceptance in your life, I have a whole section dedicated to this in the self-care series.

MAKE THE COMMITMENT. SHOW UP.

One of the best things you can do to honour your self-care is to continue to make the commitment to be kind to yourself, and actively engage in ways to improve your health, happiness and comfort. Not only will you find it easier to pull yourself out of a spiral into overwhelm before you're too far gone, but you'll find that you head toward these negatively feelings less and less because you naturally have a better mindset.

Will you let me help you get started?

In the self-care series I've put together some of my best strategies to help cultivate the right mindset for creating a better business and life. I know I’ve spoken a lot about the series in this article, but this is because I created it especially for the purpose of helping folks, especially bloggers, creative and entrepreneurs, to make self-care easier and allow themselves to enjoy the process of running a business and working towards creating an amazing life.

I wanted to make sure this series gave you resources to get ahead in the self-care game as well as tools you could use when you're in a bad headspace and need some help to get you out.

I'd love it if you signed up. I know it could help you improve your overall happiness and believe that when we are in the best headspace, we are able to create our best work and show up fully in life.

5 Quick Happiness Boosts for Bloggers

Calling all bloggers! Love your blog and your life with these 5 happiness boosts. Working on a blog can sometimes be a lonely, frustrating business, and I’m here to help you get happier and enjoy your work more. Click through to read these quick happiness boosters for bloggers and download your free cheatsheet.

You have passion. You have ideas. You have something to say. When it comes to this whole blogging thing, you’re in!

Although there is a lot to love about being a blogger, it is certainly not without challenges. When you're starting out on anything new your initial enthusiasm is enough to carry you through for a while but once you really start digging in, unexpected challenges come up and it’s easy to start questioning everyone.

Blogging is no different.

Let me tell you, I’ve been there my friend and am here to help!

I’ve looked at some of the most common happiness detractors for bloggers (newbies and seasoned!) and have put together happiness boosts to help you overcome these. Quick and clean, these tips have been designed to help you get more done by lifting your overall mood. Plus, by getting into good habits you’ll become an unstoppable blogging machine before you know it!

Happiness Boost #1: Step away from your desk. Go for a walk or even just look out the window. 

Sitting down all day can be a real happiness drainer. You may the day feeling fresh but before you know it you’ve been sitting in front of a screen for hours on end without a break. Your eyes are feeling glassy, your brain is muddled and your back (and derrière!) are sore from prolonged periods of sitting. When you get to this point it’s time to get up and move around

Getting up and walking around returns much needed blood-flow to your body and your brain, and helps straighten out the tiredness that comes from inactivity. Go outside. Get some fresh air. Or, if the weather is a bit crap then even just standing by a window will benefit you by extending the distance of focus for your eyes. Our cave-dwelling ancestors didn’t spend all day staring into the short distance, and this evolution means our eyesight needs to be stretched to long distances in order to not become strained.

Bonus points: get up and move around before you get to full fatigue.

It’s easy to forget to take breaks when you’re caught up in your work, so taking regular breaks will keep you from getting to this fatigued state. If you find you seem to forget to take a break, maybe you just need to schedule this in every hour or so. Your body and brain will thank you for it.

Happiness Boost #2: Meditate

Meditation is awesome and it’s not just me saying that. Research has shown time and again how beneficial meditation is in positively impacting anxiety, depression and stress, improving our relationships as well as helping to boost creativity, focus and happiness. No longer just the practice of monks and mystics, meditation has been adopted worldwide to improve lives and overall wellbeing. Taking some time out – even just a few minutes – can help focus your mind and reduce stress, and meditation is a great way to enhance the benefits you experience from a break.

Bonus points: practice every day for even more benefits

Bonus resource: Personally I really like guided meditation as it takes the pressure off me having to sit in silence and attempt to still my monkey-mind in full swing. Being able to hand my thoughts over to the process of just listening in really helps me feel calmer and more centred right away. It is because of this that I created a series of meditations to help with common work- and life-related problems, two of which can be accessed for free as part of my self-care series – a five-day email course that was created to help bloggers and online creatives implement a self-care plan in order to get more done.

Want to get these meditations? Enter your details below for access:

Happiness Boost #3: Daydream

I love me some daydreaming. I’m a big ol’ dreamer from way back. I love to just sit (or lay down!) and think, letting my mind wander all over the place. I adore exploring my mind for ideas on living an amazing life I love. The more I allow myself to stretch the possibilities of what I want and what I could create, the more intuitive I become. This holds me in good stead in shaping a meaningful life, and as a result I have some pretty amazing visions for my future, which in turn guides the work I do in the present to create these dreams.

I find it's important to let go of the ‘how’ when dreaming. Trying to figure out the ‘how’ only puts limits on what you envision and it is the expansive nature of daydreaming that gives you the best insights into what you truly want. Just go with the flow and see what you can come up with.

Sometimes when we’re working on the beginning stages of a project (such as starting our wonderful new blog!) we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Daydreaming can help you reconnect with the reasons why you started out on this project and help you fall back in love with it, instead of just feeling bogged down by all the work.

Bonus points: try journalling your thoughts

I love journalling and often find that my true thoughts magically start to appear on the page when I put my thoughts down in writing. I try not to question what I will write but instead just let it just happen. Intuition plays a big part here and I often leave a journalling session feeling less burdened and clearer on what to do next.

Happiness Boost #4: Get in touch with a loved one. Connect with others.

Spending so much time alone can be detrimental to our happiness. Loneliness and isolation quickly become regular features in our lives if we block out our relationships because we’ve ‘got too much to do.’

I’m speaking from experience here, my friends. I love spending time alone, but know that too much is not good for me. As I tend to be a bit of a homebody, having work I enjoy to keep me busy often means I don’t always book time in to spend with others. However, too long between catch ups with family and friends means I become grumpy and a bit depressed, not to mention feeling guilty that I’ve been neglecting my loved ones. I have found it’s better to just make this a regular priority, and get so much benefit when I do.

The trick is to find the balance between your commitment to your dream and taking the best care of yourself by cultivating your relationships. This may take time, but by taking time to be mindful you will naturally attune your intuition and recognise how much time you can spend alone before it becomes unhealthy and unproductive.

Bonus points: spend time in person with loved ones. Technology is fantastic at helping us humans stay in touch with each other but it will never replace the benefits we get from the eye contact, touch and connection we get from a face-to-face experiences.

Happiness Boost #5: Rest. Nap. Chill out.

Sometimes you just need to stop and switch off. If your mind reaches a point where concentration feels impossible, you’re not going to be able to get much done. Even if you’ve been loving the work you’re doing, your brain will eventually reach a point where it needs a break, and if you don’t listen in, your mood can go south very quickly. Taking a nap, reading a book or just doing something restful can help you reset your headspace and allow you to refresh a tired mind.

While it may feel counterproductive to stop work, getting some rest may just help you get your happiness back on track and allow you to return to your work feeling positive and re-energised.

Bonus points: sometimes you just need to call it a day. The work may feel super important and must be done as a matter of urgency but spending your time feeling jumbled and frustrated is not going to allow you to produce the best outcome, and if a break isn’t going to cut the mustard then maybe you just need to accept that you’ve done all you can for the day. If you do this, it’s important not to beat yourself up for not working – the benefits you get from stepping away from your work will be hampered by guilt and stress over not working.  Enjoy the break guilt-free, and return to your work tomorrow, refreshed from the space you've given yourself.

Want a handy reference of all these tips? Download the free cheatsheet below:

I hope these tips have helped you add a boost of happiness to your work and life. Do you practice any of these already? What is your favourite? Leave a comment below.