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Coffee break (gpointstudio/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Coffee break (gpointstudio/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Starting Out

How to stay focused when working on the go Add to ...

How to stay focused when working on the go? Fifteen entrepreneurs weigh in with their suggestions:

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.

Andy Drish, Founder, Referral Squirrel

2. Try the Pomodoro technique

 it’s 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!

Juha Liikala, Co-founder and  director of marketing, Webvehicle Oy

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.

Kelly Azevedo, Founder, She’s Got Systems

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.

Doreen Bloch, Founder and CEO, Poshly Inc.

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.

Danny Wong, Co-founder, Blank Label Group, Inc.

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 iI 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!

Thursday Bram, Consultant, Hyper Modern Consulting

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.

Colin Wright,  CEO, Asymmetrical, LLC

8/ Remember the milk

When travelling, 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 one 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.

Greg Rollett, CEO, The ProductPros

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.

Steven Le Vine,  CEO and president, grapevine pr

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.

John Hall, CEO, Digital Talent Agents

11. Bring those headphones

When working outside of an office or your house, it can be easy to get distracted by the immense amount of noise at coffee shops or in the airport. Investing in a nice pair of headphones is a great way to stay focused on the task at hand and tune out the things going on around you.

Heather Huhman, Founder and  president, Come Recommended

12. Divide tasks by location

When I’m traveling, I divide tasks by location: sitting in the airport, riding in the car, waiting in line, during ascent and descent, and cruising altitude. This requires a bit more planning, but I find that it makes keeping up with e-mail, phone calls and projects relatively easy. The ease and efficiency of never having to wonder what to do now helps me to invest the time wisely.

Elizabeth Saunders, Founder and CEO, Real Life E®

13. Which tasks are location independent?

 If I have to do work in an airport, lobby or Starbucks, I do my best to schedule what Iwill be working on in advance. Processing data and doing routine tasks is far easier than being creative in these environments. Set yourself up with tasks that you can accomplish given the time, resources and environment.

Lucas Sommer, Founder and CEO, Audimated

14. Do a little dance

 Okay, not really dancing; listening to music is kind of a must for me when I’m working in public, while traveling, or otherwise surrounded by people. Let We Are Hunted or The Hype Machine’s popular list drown out the world, especially in the presence of abundant distractions.

Derek Shanahan, Growth marketing, Playerize

15. Keep co-working to truly work: working on the go regularly will help train you to focus while outside your own office. A few years ago, I never would have been able to get four e-mails done as I walk from gate to gate at the airport, but it’s something you can really get good at.

Caitlin McCabe, Founder and  CEO, Real Bullets Branding

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #startuplab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and e-mail lessons.

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