We’ve all been there. Entrepreneur hell.
It’s late at night. Your palms are sweating. You’re racing to get everything done in time. New things keep popping up and your brain feels pulled in a million different directions. You just can’t focus.
The life of an entrepreneur can be more stressful than we’d like to admit. But things still need to get done – you’re running the show, and you need to execute without going insane.
Here are five ways that entrepreneurs can stay productive – even when you’re stressed and feel that focus is a luxury.
1. Set slug goals
We’ve all heard of SMART goals, right? Specific, actionable goals with a set timeline. There are also Stretch Goals – for those inspired days when you’re able to achieve far more than planned. Now, meet Slug Goals.
Rather than setting targets and missing them, just focus on doing the minimum needed to get the task done. I’m not saying cut corners – just cut out the fluff. Also: You’ll stop beating yourself up about all the (unnecessary) things you didn’t finish.
2. Focus furiously
Stop trying to doing everything at once. You may have a long night ahead of you, but don’t be fooled: you’re not running a nightly marathon. You’re doing a series of sprints. Set yourself a timer for 20-25 minutes. Then put your blinders on, and focus on just one task.
For those 25 minutes, think of nothing else. This works, because when you’re stressed out and distracted, it helps to bring back a little tunnel vision. By focusing on just the bare minimum, you’re way more likely to complete the task. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
3.Think in themes
This step expands on the previous one. Categorize all your tasks into different categories, and only attack one category (i.e. business functions, etc.) at once if possible. Switching between different contexts is a major drain on your productivity – it interrupts your focus and forces your brain to re-focus all over again on something different.
4. Don’t overthink it
When you’re facing a huge task, don’t get daunted. That’s the easiest way to start procrastinating (and get nothing done). Just take one little bite out of it. Even before you have time to think about it. Then another bite.
For example, if you need to write a series of articles for your content marketing program, just start with one sentence. Then another. Create an outline. Before long, you’ll build up momentum – even if you need to re-write the first sentences, you’ll be more in the zone.
5. Keep moving
Never underestimate the power of matter over mind. When your brain is tired, it’s so easy to slide from feeling frazzled and distracted to too much focus…on the wrong thing. And then feeling overwhelmed all over again.
Make sure you get out of your chair every half hour or so, as a reward for keeping focused. And move! Have an impromptu dance party, walk around, jump around! Sounds simple, but you’ll be amazed at how it can bring back perspective.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sophie Taylor is the founder of Sanity Haven, a London-based productivity coaching company. I help female entrepreneurs to get more done in less time, without working more (and with much less stress!). Connect with @SophieCoaching7 on Twitter.