Ten entrepreneurs share their tips on how they stay focused when working on the go – in airports, co-working spaces, Starbucks?
1. Time your work sessions. Set a timer for 30 minutes and commit to not doing anything else during that time. No phone, no e-mail, no Facebook. Setting a timer frees your mind to focus on the single task at hand without distractions.
2. Try the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique is a very effective work-pause-work method invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late ’80s. Each work sprint of 25 minutes is followed by a five-minute break. First, choose a relatively simple task to accomplish, focus on the task for 25 minutes and then take five-minute break to grab another cup of coffee. Then, start again. Works like a charm, especially if you’re on the move!
3. Take breaks to network. I live by a structured schedule, but it’s hard to concentrate when there’s a lot of opportunity around when I’m working. Scheduling work blocks and breaks is a great way to ‘reward’ myself with time to network, get distracted and enjoy some freedom while still accomplishing my tasks.”
4. Reliable Wifi with Mifi. The danger for me when working on-the-go is the lack of reliable Internet connection. When the connection is spotty, I may get distracted with my phone, a newspaper article and more. Having a Mifi device has been an amazing solution; you’re guaranteed to get a fast and fail-free connection so you can work anywhere, anytime.
5. Prep your offline workload. We tend to have a lot of reliance on Internet access, but sometimes when Wifi is spotty or just unavailable, make sure you have plenty of work you can do offline. You can still upload it online later, if needed. Just thinking about Internet problems can be distracting, so by eliminating the need for internet access, you can focus more energy on getting your work done.
6. Set three clear goals. When I work away from my desk, I usually list out three things I have to get done. I can network or do anything else I want as soon as I finish that work. I make a point of not doing anything else until I finish that work. I’ve never had a problem telling someone that I simply must get something e-mailed off before I chat – fellow entrepreneurs in particular often understand!
7. Artificial deadlines really work! I’m a big fan of giving myself artificial deadlines for whatever I happen to be working on, and doing so can really help you stay focused wherever you happen to be. Make sure the deadlines are tough to meet, though, otherwise you’ll be easily distracted by whatever is going on around you. If you’ve got 20 minutes to finish up that presentation, your eyes will stay on the prize.
8. Remember the milk. When traveling, you generally only have a few minutes here and there to really accomplish anything. The way I get around that is to have my to-do list, which is housed at rememberthemilk.com, stare at me in the face with priority-1 projects. I then shut the e-mail off so no new distractions come my way. That combination allows me to get things done and then enjoy the world around me.
9. Wunderlist stops the wandering. The best tool i have used to help me stay focused on the go is Wunderlist. I can sync my laptop, iPad and iPhone up at all times. If i’m using my phone, I can see the same list of priorities for each client that needs to get done as when I’m on my computer. I think that when you can’t visualize everything that needs to get done, you become easily distracted.
10. People don’t bother busy people! Staying focused outside of the office is all about the environment, so I put on headphones and listen to some light music. Not only does it block out ambient noise, but people are less likely to distract you if they think you can’t hear them anyway.